It’s about to get lit in here

It’s about to get lit in here

What in the world am I doing with the title of this blog? I don’t even know if I am using that “hip” expression the way it should be. I am just trying to sound cool, and the one thing I have known for years is I am not cool. Sorry to disappoint any of you who thought I was.

As we get older, we have to admit things to ourselves – and others. Some of those things are silly – like me thinking I was ever cool. Rest assured, no one was ever going to confuse me with the Fonz when it comes to coolness. Just like no one was going to mistake me for a professional athlete or the sexiest man in the world. I always have been who I am – just the average guy who grew up in Small Town America and did his best to fit in.

Lately I have had to admit something to myself that is quite painful about that little kid who grew up in the small town. I guess I kind of knew this about my life, but I have never admitted it. Maybe I was embarrassed. Maybe I didn’t want to admit it happened to me. But as I have moved through life, there has been an issue that has bothered me more so than others, so it might be time to put my cards on the table.

As a journalist, I read accounts of horrible things happening to people each and every day. I can’t avoid it; it comes with the job. Natural disasters, murders, fatal wrecks, dirty politicians – on and on goes the laundry list of terrible issues that make the news. One has hit me harder than all of these – not because those others aren’t important but because the victims often are the most helpless in society. I am referring to the issue of bullying – and mainly when it comes to children. I know adults also are bullied, but children being the subject of cruel and many times physical attacks really gets me fired up.

The reason is simple – I was bullied. Now, don’t get me wrong – what I suffered is no where near the magnitude of what many young people suffer today. Bullying has gone far past simple name calling and the relatively harmless pushing and shoving. Today, children are killing themselves because of the abuse they receive from their peers simply because they are different. Often those who can help are too late for these children who feel there is nothing they can do to make life better than end it.

Bullying leaves scars – some literal, some figurative. But those who are bullied all end up with their life changed in some way. For me, the bullying may have been because I was a small kid. Maybe it was because I wasn’t very cool and not very athletic. Maybe it was because I was smarter (a geek) than those who were bullying me. No matter the reason I was bullied, the actions of others affected my every day life just as it does anyone who is bullied.

In school I would linger by my locker in hopes of giving the bullies a chance to leave or get to class so I wouldn’t pass them in the hall. Other times I would rush to my locker and leave out the back of the school, traversing the football practice field and walking home. The best thing for me was avoidance, but when that didn’t work, I had another weapon at my disposal – comedy. No, I didn’t stop the bullies with a knock-knock joke. I developed a self-deprecating humor that often would disarm or appease the bullies. You see, if I made fun of myself, there really wasn’t anything for the bully to do other than maybe a shove or a punch on the arm before they would walk away.

The problem with that for me is that I have carried that humor with me through my whole life. As many people have said, including myself on many occasions, I am my own worst enemy. To this day, I still am quick to make fun of myself when I feel threatened or pressured. What was a defense mechanism to combat bullies became a permanent weapon in my arsenal. Frankly, it isn’t a healthy habit but one I find difficult to break.

Why am I sharing this with you? Really, I have no idea other than to educate people that bullying does indeed leave a lasting impression on its victims. No, I didn’t commit suicide because I was bullied. No, I didn’t shoot up my school because I was teased and abused. However, I didn’t come through it unscathed either. No child who is bullied remains unblemished. It’s terrible to go through your childhood being scared of who might be around the next corner. I coped the best way I knew how, as do many young people today. But my point is they shouldn’t have to cope. Children should not live in fear of being ridiculed because they are small, uncoordinated, smart or whatever it is that makes them different than the “cool” crowd.

Bullying needs to stop and we need to do everything in our power to make sure it does. If you are a parent and you believe your child might be the victim of bullying, talk to them. Find out what is going on. Empathize with them and don’t simply offer trite “solutions” to their problem. These children need to be heard before they are helped. If the problem is serious, talk to the proper authorities to help the situation. If you think your child might be the one doing the bullying, stop them! Do what it takes, but make sure your child is not the reason another young person does something drastic that will cause harm to themselves or others.

No, nothing got “lit” in this blog other than maybe my pride. No one likes to admit that they were bullied, but if by doing so, I can spark conversation or help one person who is being bullied than I am willing to suffer a bruised ego. Many times a bruised ego is far easier to deal with than a bruised and battered body.

One Reply to “It’s about to get lit in here”

  1. Chris, I could have written this blog post (well, maybe except for the being a journalist part). I went through much of the same throughout school, and I learned to deal with it through the same type of self-deprecating humor. I still deal with feelings of inadequacy and just a general sense of being the loser that the bullies said I was. While I still hate the emotional scars I carry, I can say that the experience did leave me with more compassion for others. I always look for the outcasts and plant words of encouragement where and when I can, in hopes that I can save someone else from the downward spiral of self-loathing I’ve experienced my whole life.

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