Bullies and Cliques: Most Peak in High School Then Become Losers in The Real World

Little Girl Playing in a Kiddie Pool

High school is child’s play – the kiddie pool of life, if you will. And most often, graduation means the end of the line for most “popular” bullies and cliques.

I say this because most of my former school bullies had their fame in school but have done very little with their lives since. Most achieve very little as adults, while those bullied by these types evolve into remarkable and highly successful adults.

I know this for a fact because I’ve watched as one of my older school bullies got a Nursing degree, then worked as the Director of Nursing in a nursing home. She seemed to be moving up in the world and got handed the most favorable positions- all because she was well-known in the town. (Most of my bullies from school either became nurses, law enforcement, teachers, or went to work in corrections.)

While working her prestigious DON position, she got hooked on prescription pills, and someone caught her stealing out of the medicine cart. The owners of the nursing facility fired her from her job. Next, the state of Tennessee revoked her nursing license. Then her husband divorced her, and she ended up penniless and working in a local cafe for minimum wage. I can only imagine how humbled and humiliated she felt.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t secretly wish for anything bad to happen to anyone, and I don’t boast of the misfortunes of others- not even those who tormented me in school. I’m merely making the point that Karma does repay eventually, and most of these coddled and babied daddy’s girls and puffed up mama’s boys get a colossal letdown once they’re out on their own.

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I came to find out that this has happened to many of my former bullies. They bully innocent others like myself during school, then get the comeuppance they never expected as adults.

Here are a few reasons why most of my ex-bullies aren’t very successful:

To be truly successful, a person must leave their comfort zones and face their worst fear- the possibility of failure. Most bullies will never leave the familiar. They’d rather stay in an environment where they continue to get opportunities, promotions, and rewards handed to them by their “town connections,” which are small to mediocre victories.

Most of my bullies never left that one-horse town. Why? Because they knew they wouldn’t get the special treatment and free passes in any other jurisdiction that were generously afforded them in *Oakley. Therefore, they stay where their friends are and know that they can get by on nepotism and the “Good Ole Boy System,” which rules not only *Oakley but most tiny Southern towns.

However, here’s the thing about small towns and rural areas. It doesn’t take long, nor does it take much effort to maximize potential in places such as these, even for well-connected bullies and cliques. A person can only go so far in a rural area, so let them have their small town safety net because they’re only playing in the kiddie pool! They would drown in the big pond.

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High school is the highlight of most people’s lives, so bullies today should enjoy it while they can. Because the real world doesn’t care who you were in high school.

Adult life has no concern with how popular you were, whether you were Homecoming Queen, the varsity football team’s star, or on the cheerleading squad. The workplace doesn’t care if you were in a fraternity or sorority or the class president!

All the real world wants to know is whether or not you can contribute something to it, and most bullies are as incompetent as they come and add nothing to life but negativity.

I’m very thankful that many of my differences, ridiculed by my classmates, are the same characteristics and skills that people today (other than my former classmates) value and admire about me. WHAM! Take that, bullies!

Bullying and Biases

Humans tend to be selective of those who are more like them because sameness brings comfort and security. We can choose who to date, who to be friends with, hang out with, and with whom to do business. We choose who we choose.

I can agree that we have the right to choose the people we associate with. What we don’t have the right to do is mistreat, dehumanize, and demonize the people we don’t choose. Although we may not like certain people, we should respect their right to human dignity and to exist. We should let them go on with their lives and pursue their happiness, goals, and dreams, rather than try to hold them back just because they’re different from us.

Though we may not like a person, we must know that that person is due the same human rights. And where we go wrong is when we regard anyone different from us, “the enemy,” solely on their differences and not because of any actions they’ve done against us.

In deeming someone an enemy without just cause, we force them to become our enemy by the abuse we commit against them. Our offense justifies their defense. We make them an adversary by provoking them to fight back and defend themselves.

Biases can cause a kind of tunnel vision in that we can’t see outside our comfort zones. Sameness and familiarity may make people more comfortable and give certainty and security, but, on the downside, it causes narrow-mindedness and short-sightedness. It produces blind spots, and the more biased we are, the more we miss, or rather, reject information that may broaden our horizons and make us better and more informed people. In short, it promotes blindness to the world around us.

It’s like living in a small town all your life and never venturing outside the city limits. There’s so much you miss because there’s a much bigger world outside that small town.

It’s the same with selecting the same types of people to be in your life- people who look like you, think like you and act like you. You cheat yourself out of meeting many people who are also great and exciting. You miss out on people you could learn from and who would otherwise be significant assets to your life- people who would otherwise be great friends and add love and positivity to your life.

After all, “variety is the spice of life.” Right?

On the other hand, when you base your biases only on character and open yourself up to people who are different from you, you open yourself up to a much wider world. You broaden your outlook, widen your vision, and open yourself up to a broader range of ideas that might add benefit to your life.

With knowledge comes empowerment.

Bully Privilege

In most cases, bullies have the benefit of followers and bystanders covering for them when they terrorize and brutalize their targets. Targets, on the other hand, get no leniency whatsoever, so, they must make extra efforts to keep their hands clean because, unlike the bullies, they can’t afford to break any rules. IF targets dare to engage in the same behaviors the bullies do, they’d quickly be fired, expelled, prosecuted, or worse, killed.

What targets are severely punished for bullies get away with. You see it all the time- in the schools, workplaces, and communities. For a target of bullying, there’s no margin for error. Targets don’t have the benefit of a cheering section. And if bullies can’t find anything to hold against the target, they’ll make something up.

Understand that bullies and their enablers don’t play by the same rules. When bullies engage in bad behavior, people are silent, and the bullies are exempt from accountability. While bullies get a pass for the worst behaviors, targets are persecuted for perceived or made up slights or normal human errors that anyone could make.

Realize that this is a clear-cut example of “bully privilege” and it’s real. It’s been around since the beginning of time.

During the Medieval Period, kings had scapegoats who were blamed for mistakes and wrongdoing- scapegoats, who were executed. If targets expect to defend themselves properly, they must stop being so shocked about it and realize that such things exist.

Targets must prepare and stop being blindsided because it will only throw them off balance and hinder their ability to think properly.

Realize that we live in a fallen world and one that isn’t just. Also, understand that nothing is impossible and that we should expect the unexpected.

Only then will you be able to come up with a strategy and protect yourself more effectively.

An Unfortunate Reality of Bullying: Relationship is the Determiner.

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It’s not easy for people to distinguish between the real bully and the victim. Bullies are good at making victims look guilty, showing only the victim the worst, most brutal, and evil sides of themselves while showing everyone else their best, sweetest, and most loving halves of their personalities.

The bully may feign sympathy and compassion for her victim by making statements such as,

“I feel so terrible for (victim’s name). I sincerely hope she gets the help she needs before it’s too late.”

Bullies accuse their victims of attacking them when it’s the over way around, and people can quickly either get confused and not know who did what to who or blame the wrong person altogether.

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Many times, if you’re a target of such torment, whether people believe you or not depends on their relationship with you and with the bully. If the bully is someone, they either like or love, they will, out of loyalty, take the bully’s word over yours. It won’t matter that the bully is in the wrong. And in many cases, people may know the bully is in the wrong, even witness the bully’s bad behavior.

Again, they still may take the bully’s side because, “that’s their friend” or “that’s their family.” Or maybe they dislike or may even hate the bullying person, but they dislike or hate you even more. So, they choose who they perceive to be the lesser of two evils.

People tend to believe those they care about and disbelieve those they don’t care about or don’t know.

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My advice for targets of bullying is this: It pays to have friends and connections. If you don’t have them, find ways of making them, even if you must establish those connections outside of the toxic workplace or learning environment.

They may not be able to help you with your situation in the bullying environment. But what they can do is help you feel so much better about yourself and not to feel so alone. And self-care is a must when you’re a target of bullying.

Also, establishing connections and relationships now may pay off in the long run because if you’re a target of bullying at your job, chances are you won’t be working there for much longer. And maybe your outside friends and connections just may work at your next job and life will be much easier.