Bullies have been doing their thing for a looong time. Cain was a bully. So was Goliath, Genghis Kahn, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, Kim Jong un, Draco Malfoy and about a billion others including some nasty creatures in schools and online.
The cool thing about bullies is what they leave behind. I’m not talking about pain, suffering, damage, destruction and devastation—of course, there’s that. The outcome I’m referring to is more enduring: strength, stamina, motivation, courage and tenacity.
Some amazing people were tormented by by their peers—Michael Phelps, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Christian Bale, Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock and George McFly—just to name a few. Bullied folk usually become determined and resilient, which is a pretty good trade-off compared to what their oppressors get. I’m wracking my brain to think of any redeeming quality a bully might gain from his intimidation but honestly, I can’t think of a single one.
I wouldn’t label myself one of the truly “bullied.” Nobody drew a cootie shot on their hand to inoculate themselves from me if I approached. I didn’t get beat up or shoved into a locker. What I experienced in my youth was much more benign. I was simply an outsider, invisible to the naked eye.
Although it was more than half a century ago, I clearly remember the group of girls who met together after school to decide if I could join their club. Rejection is a terrible thing for a third-grader. I didn’t realize it at the time but now I can pinpoint that very day as a spring-board to an important life-lesson: Who I am doesn’t depend on anyone else. Life is about discovering and creating yourself. Instead of fitting, in I climbed trees and looked at clouds. I began using my imagination to write stories and then books. I started sketching then painting. I learned to sew, sing, tried out for plays and debate. I organized, decorated, learned to garden, started a business and then another.
Although I’ve made some dear friends along the way, I’m still a loner! I learn and do whatever I want without having to fit in.
You might say bullying is bad and you’d be right. But I like Chris Colfer’s philosophy: When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.