Why? Because liking of any person or thing is always subjective and no two people have the exact likes, dislikes, tastes or opinions. Know that there will always be those whom do not like you and be okay with it because it bares no reflection on you. We all move in different circles and directions. It’s just how life works and how we were made.
Continue to love and embrace yourself as the person God made you to be. Continue to enjoy the friends and loved ones you do have and never mind the people you don’t have. They aren’t important. Embrace your differences because no two people are the same. Accept every flaw and quirk you have. Accept no one’s ignorant, cookie-cutter version of what you should be. You are enough!
Imagine how utterly and downright boring life would be if we were all the same. Imagine a world full of white people, black people or Hispanics…a world full of people with blonde hair and blue eyes or dark hair and dark eyes…a world full of skinny people…or overweight people…or if everyone had the same tastes opinions or beliefs! It would be like living in a town in which all diners were pizza parlors and served pizza but nothing else. Yuck! I love pizza, but I wouldn’t want to eat it every damn day!
So love being different. Know that there are people who love you and are begging to spend time with you. And above all else, know that God loves you. You will be alright.
Not only do I love to write, I also love to sing. I’ve been writing since I was ten but singing since I was eighteen months old. It was while traveling home to Tennessee from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina (my dad was a soldier) to spend Christmas with family, when my parents first discovered that I had a natural talent for music.
To hear my mother tell it today, a song played on the car stereo and while sitting in the back, directly behind Mom and Dad in my car safety seat, I hummed and sang, babbling to the tune and words of the music, slapping my pudgy little hand against my lap and bobbing and swaying my head to the beat of the music. My parents immediately took notice as I kept in perfect key and rhythm. Mom, who was sitting in the passenger seat as Dad drove, turned around and peered at me from between the front seats. She then looked at Dad, wide-eyed with amazement, nudging him with her elbow and saying,
“Listen to this baby sing!”
“Oh, I hear it!” Dad said excitedly, having several times taken his eyes off the road every few seconds to look at me through the rear-view mirror. My parents, both music lovers themselves, then turned and looked at each other, mouths agape with astonishment. They had never heard an eighteen-month-old toddler sing so well.
Mom then turned around, looking at me again with a big smile on her face. Dad continued glancing at me through the rear-view mirror, grinning from ear to ear with delight.
Fast forward forty plus years: I had entered a talent show in Covington, which was held at a bar and night-club not far from the county line. First prize was four-hundred dollars, second prize was two-hundred and third prize, one hundred. Having sang in several bands and won numerous talent shows and contests, I was one of the last of about twenty contestants to perform, with my chosen songs being “Girl on Fire” by Alisha Keys and “Fancy” by Reba McEntire. My mother, stepfather and my husband, who was my fiancé at the time, had come to watch me perform.
When the contest was over, we sat in a dimly lit barroom filled with over a hundred people, waiting for the judges to tally up their votes and the winner to be announced. It was close to midnight on a late-spring night and the back door of the tavern was kept open to let the cool air in. Our table was next to the open door and bugs were flying all around, attracted to the lights over the stage.
To my horror, I felt a huge mosquito-hawk fly down my camisole, into my brazier! Completely creeped-out by the wiggling and squirming felt down my shirt and fighting like the devil the urge to frantically dig down to fish the critter out in front of a hundred plus people, I quickly got up and exited the building through the open back door!
Once I got outside, it was completely dark…no security lights…nothing. Although there were several cars in the parking lot, everyone was inside enjoying the festivities. Being certain that the cover of darkness would provide me the privacy I needed to take care of the situation, I pulled my bra down over my breasts and began anxiously brushing and thumping bits and pieces of the insect out of my bra and cami.
Suddenly, click! Headlights! Spotlighted by headlights…on high beam! Because it had been pitch dark, I hadn’t seen the two men sitting in a parked pick-up about fifty feet in front of me! They switched on the headlights while cranking the ignition, then revved up the motor…and I’m standing there…completely exposed!
Mortified, all I could do was turn my back to them to face the side of the building and finish. I then scurried back inside as quickly as possible. I returned to our table and my family and fiancé were falling out of their chairs, others were also looking at me and snickering. They’d put two and two together after seeing the abrupt glow of the headlights beam through the door, knowing I was outside taking care of myself. I couldn’t help but to laugh myself!
After winning first place, I took my prize money, politely thanked everyone, and my family and I made our way through the crowd to leave for the night. On the way to the front exit, I happened to look to my right and notice two older men sitting at a corner table with big-wide grins on their faces, looking directly at me with laser focus and eyes, which seemed to light up. Instantly, I knew who they were!
Feeling my face flush hot, I turned to my mother and said, “The sooner we get out of here, the better!”
It’s funny now. But while it happened, not so much.
You go home that afternoon. In the privacy of your own bedroom, you cry, you scream, you beat your fists against your pillow, your bed, the wall, the door, anything to release all the years-long pinned-up rage, which has festered like a cancerous boil. You fly into a rage and destroy your own bedroom, turning the damn place upside down! What you really want to do is beat the living hell out of all of them. You’re not really beating the pillow, bed, or whatever else. No. In your mind, you are beating the living daylights out of them…every single one of them! You want to do to them what they have done to you.
Before long, it’s six o’clock and you are having dinner with your family. You struggle as you tell your mother for the hundredth time that you were in a fight at school and that you are suspended for three days. Your mother gives you the tongue lashing from hell, she tells you that you’re trouble and that you need to change your attitude…that if you weren’t so (insert bad quality here), then maybe you would have friends and nobody would mess with you. Even worse, you start to believe it too. But sadly, you haven’t the slightest clue of what it is that you need to change. You can’t fix it because you don’t even know what’s broken.
Your mother has just implicated that what has been happening to you is your fault…that you bring it on yourself. She then grounds you…only you have nothing to be grounded from. It’s not like you ever get invited to any slumber parties or birthday bashes. So, she grounds you from what little you do get to enjoy.
You remember that in the past few years, you’ve tried to open up and tell the adults in your life what you are dealing with. You pleaded for help, only to be perceived as the culprit so no one is interested in what you have to say. They accuse you of lying or manipulating others just to cover your own backside. They tell you to “shut up” and that they don’t want to hear it. You aren’t allowed to speak in your own behalf…at school or at home. Deep down, you try to hold on, with everything you have in you, to the belief that you are a good person but no one else acknowledges it. As a result, your own acknowledgment of your own goodness begins to wane.
You are desperate for a change…for relief but there is no sign of refuge. You want justice but it seems that justice will never come. This is a situation that you can no longer see an end to.
After brokenheartedly realizing that your own blood can’t or won’t even help you, you begin a downward spiral into hopelessness and despair. You have nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. Now, your bullies have managed to alienate you from not only the people at school, but your own damned family as well. Your suffering at school has now bled into your own home. And even then, your classmates still aren’t satisfied that you have suffered enough. In essence, your classmates want you dead, only they don’t have the guts to kill you themselves because they don’t want to go to prison. So, they continue, even intensify the torment, in hopes that you will do it for them.
You feel that the one and ONLY thing you have going for you is that you aren’t dead. Then you begin to think that maybe death wouldn’t be such a bad thing. At least no one could hurt you again. You start to think of ways to die. Before long, death becomes an obsession. You believe that your life is one big curse and want so badly to end that curse. You are under the misguided belief that death is the only escape from an earthly hell that you have been forced to live.
Now you must choose. Should you keep living in hell, or should you just resign yourself and put an end to it all?
I want you to know that regardless of how hopeless a situation may seem, there’s always hope. Better times will find you and there will come a day when Karma will find your bullies and deal with them. And you? You will emerge victorious. You see? I believe that God rewards those who suffer the most…even in this lifetime. So please, don’t take your own life. You are worth fighting for even if no one else thinks so. Keep going! Keep pushing! Keep fighting! Keep living! Your reward and your victory are coming!
When you arrive at school, everyone notices the glue in your hair and stained clothes. They point at you and laugh, call you horrible names, even lay hands on you. You are so distraught that when lunch arrives, you can’t even eat. Your stomach is in knots and your head pounds from the stress of being the outcast of your school. The nausea is intense!
You look around and watch everyone else having fun and enjoying school. You watch as girls flirt with their boyfriends and the boys snake an arm around their chosen young ladies. You watch the rest of your peers as they get to enjoy real friendships, getting invites to birthday parties, slumber parties, camping trips and dates. You watch them laugh playfully with each other, you can see the happiness in their eyes…eyes that look on you with disgust… and the look of joy all over their faces…the joy slowly turns to scorn when they look in your general direction.
You want to be happy for them but no longer have it in you. Instead, you can’t help but to resent the hell out of their happiness and blessings…blessings that you yearn to have…that you would give your right arm for if that’s what it took! Blessings that they seem to take for granted!
You wonder, “Why can’t I have that? Why? I’m important too. Don’t I deserve to have friends?” But God seems to be too busy to answer. You want to cry…to scream but cannot. You don’t want to let them see you sweat…you can’t bear for them to see you cry! Your pride- what little you have left, won’t let you give them the satisfaction of knowing they have succeeded in destroying you…they have killed every opportunity for you to make friends of your own…they have squashed your dating opportunities…they have taken all of your accomplishments and good qualities and trampled them under foot. You then become angry and bitter and wish nothing but destruction for their friendships because they deserve to be taught how it feels. You want so bad to trade places with them and it seems that your lot in life is to wander this earth alone.
You watch as some of them even say horrible things behind their friends’ backs. But you notice that, strangely, the slighted friend is quick to forgive them and they get to go on being buddies, as if nothing ever happened. But you? If you so much as look wrong, they want to tear you to pieces. But they already do it…they tear you apart every day and have been for years. All for nothing but existing…for being YOU!
Then after lunch, the torment escalates to a full-blown brawl and you are physically attacked in the bathroom. Naturally, you defend yourself, trying to protect your well-being and keep from being hurt. This is the umpteenth physical attack that you’ve had to defend yourself and you’re just dog tired!
Tired of having to fight just to get through what should be a normal school day! Tired of constantly ducking and dodging everyone! Tired of laying low! Tired of having to grow eyes in the back of your head! Tired of being held hostage for eight long hours every day! Tired of being forced to adhere to the many double-standards that your classmates have held you to for so long…too long! You aren’t just tired, you’re exhausted! Your classmates have worn you down…trampled your dreams, your personhood, confidence, self-esteem, and your rights to be yourself and to be safe.
A teacher breaks up the melee and you and your attacker are escorted to the principal’s office. If you’re lucky, you and your attacker both are suspended from school. If you aren’t, your classmates will rush to the defense of your attacker and only you will be suspended…for nothing more than trying to defend yourself from being hurt and possibly killed. Because your peers have been standing in line for years, one by one, taking turns attacking you, you are always one of the two…or more…involved. Therefore, you have been labeled a troublemaker and now even some of the school staff are highly suspicious of you. Only the few staff, who are more open-minded understand what you are going through. However, their hands seem to be tied when it comes to effectively helping you.
Having experienced school bullying myself, I would like to give a detailed scenario of what it is like to be a target for those who have been fortunate not to have been bullied. My aim is to put you in the shoes of a target so that you can better understand what they are forced to endure daily. When it comes to living with bullying, no story is far-fetched or unlikely.
Imagine you’re in Middle School or High School. You wake up in the morning and eat breakfast. While you eat, your mother is busy preparing to go to work. You stare at your mother, wanting so badly to tell her was is happening at school and how much you hurt inside. But you’re much too afraid.
If you do tell her, will she assure you that she will address the situation or will she tell you that it’s all just a part of the school experience and that you should just put up with it?
Will she put her arms around you, give you loving motherly advice and tell you that none of it is your fault or blame you, telling you that you must be doing something to bring it all on yourself?
Will she listen to you, or will she just dismiss you and tell you to ignore the bullies?
You ponder these questions and what your mother might say and then decide that maybe opening up is a bad idea. You are also ashamed…of being bullied. How can you tell your family that you are the pariah of your school…that you are number one must wanted among your peers…and not in a good way? What will they say? How will they react?
Soon, it’s time to go to the bus stop. You go, however reluctantly. You stand there, waiting for the school bus, hoping that maybe it broke down on the side of the road, had a flat, that something happened to delay it. You absolutely dread seeing the bus approach. You have a lump in your throat and it is extremely hard to swallow. You are terrified because you know what’s coming the moment you step onto that bus and later, when you walk through the school entrance. Just like every day before…and for the past several years, you will be ambushed, caught in a vicious onslaught of ugly names, taunts, digs, cruel pranks and probably even punches, kicks and shoves!
Just knowing this is enough to paralyze you and make your stomach turn. As you see the school bus approaching, your heart sinks and your stomach turns somersaults. You wonder if the torment will ever end. You wonder when the day will finally arrive when you can be like everyone else…strolling easily along in school, enjoying friends, laughing it up, and having the time of your life. You wonder, “Why not me?”
When the bus stops in front of you, the doors swing open and you step on. An instant hush falls over the other passengers and you notice the furtive looks, giggles and disapproving grunts as you make your way down the aisle to the first empty seat. Suddenly, you hear several different voices, “Oh God! Not him/her again!” “Hey, bitch/punk! How does it feel that nobody likes you?” “Nobody will EVER like you! You should have been aborted at birth!” “You’re such a waste! Why don’t you kill yourself?” This has been happening for so long that you have tried to overlook the taunts, numbing your pain and stuffing it deep down inside. However, you can only do this for so long.
As you near an empty seat, a girl gets up and spits in your face. A boy gets behind you and shoves you forward so hard you almost fall to the floor. Then you find an empty seat and sit down. The girl sitting behind you borrows glue from a little first grader and pours it in your long, shiny-clean hair. Another girl pours red food coloring down the back of your nice white blouse and brand-new jeans!
Now you must go to school with glue in your hair and a soiled outfit, only to be further ridiculed. You mother must work so there’s no way she can come take you home for a hair wash and clothes change. And because you don’t want to be a burden to your parents by telling them that you need for one of them to bring you a clean set of attire, you’re stuck at school all day, disheveled.