I came up with the title of this article to make people do a double-take. What??? How can he say there is something POSITIVE about bullying?
Well, let me clarify what I mean by saying I am drawing the content of this article (as I always do) from my own experiences. Certainly there are people out there who have dealt with bullying on an entirely different level. For me, luckily, the bullying was mostly verbal. (The most physical force I ever dealt with was being shoved a couple times.) With that fact in mind, what I outline in this article might not apply to those who get pummeled on a daily basis, but you never know.
At any rate, being the subject of taunts and verbal bullying has made me who I am today. Who is that, you may ask? I am a very laid back, non-judgmental type of person. My attitude toward other people is: if you are nice to me, I’m nice to you. That’s all there is to it. I don’t care if someone is a jock, a nerd, black, Hispanic, gay, lesbian, liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, Taoist, Buddhist…none of that matters to me. In the end we are all just people. We all have similar fears, similar dreams. The media may like to focus on our differences, but I like to focus on our similarities.
(BRIEF NOTE: This doesn’t mean I think differences are necessarily bad. Without them the world would be a pretty bland place. However, when you focus on them so much that it drives us apart…well, that is when it becomes a problem.)
And why am I that way? Because I wished people had given me the same courtesy growing up.
In my early school years, I used to enjoy meeting new people. It gave me a chance to learn new things, and vice versa because I was different from them. So I would go on and on about being into writing, video games, role-playing games, horror movies, martial arts and so on. They would nod politely and act interested.
Eventually I started to notice a pattern: later on after I had shared all these things about myself, I would find out that the person (who had acted so interested at the time) would be going back to their friends and saying, “Can you believe this freak? He talked for an hour about horror movies. He thinks he’s cool or something, but I think he is a damn weirdo!”
So after a while, I learned to just keep my mouth shut. The early lessons of my life were: (1) Share nothing, (2) being friendly is a bad idea, (3) don’t EVER open up to anyone about the real you unless you have known them long enough to trust them…so, you know, only if you have known them for about a half a century.
Without even being aware of it, this kind of treatment helped me develop into who I am today. Whenever anyone acted kind toward me and wanted to be my friend, I welcomed them with open arms because those kinds of people were so few and far between. On top of that, I NEVER mocked anyone for being different simply because I already knew how that made me feel…and if I didn’t like it, odds were it could hurt other people’s feelings too. (That goes back to the whole “we have more in common than different” philosophy.)
In any event, while I certainly wish I could have developed these traits without having to go through the hell of being bullied, I’m glad it happened. I’m glad I turned out the way I did…because I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted to turn out being like one of THEM!