Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Stand up to yourself.

Her name is S. As a 7th grader S must have been 12-13 years of age.  Its the most challenging age. Its when the hormonal roller coaster ride starts, sadly for women to not end for another 40+ years.  But coming back, her dorm changed when she started 7th grade. From the senior dorm, where S was placed initially due to lack of space in the age appropriate one, she was now given permission to go hang out with dorm mates from her own grade. And yes she was excited.  S became instant friends with another girl.  Lets call her A.   A was a quiet girl, just like S.  They were like two peas in a pod. Life was moving along fine, and they were a very happy dorm of 10 girls with a warden who was, lets just say nice in her own special way.  All was well, the girls had learnt how to wake themselves up, manage  their laundry, watch out for each other and even mastered the art of whispering under the blankets so the sounds of ten girls giggling away could  escape the alert ears of their warden. 

Slowly and steadily S noticed a change, A would not hang out with her anymore. Not only A, all the other 10 stayed away or answered in mono syllables. As a 13 year old, S didn't really know why. She  tried very hard to talk and please them, but to no success. And if this wasn't enough, she was made the dorm in charge for the latter part of 7th grade.  7th grade ended, they were all promoted to the next grade, came summer vacation, S took her flight to Nigeria, where her parents were and enjoyed every bit. Came back, only to find out that the situation had not changed one bit. They still wouldn't talk. At this point she was confused and was almost ready to go talk to the head warden, when one night at the "meditation hall," a sermons being read was about "internal strengths." The sermon hit the right spot and S decided to wait. After about a year of being taunted and smirked at, she had mastered the art of ignoring. It was easy to now go on with life as if nothing was wrong. Thank fully, it was a girls only hostel, so bullying was limited to verbal words or at the most ignoring. 

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The status quo continued and somewhere towards the end of 8th grade, few of the girls decided to come talk to her.  And she never asked them why they did what they did?  Sounds silly, right. Anyone with a brain would want to know why? Not her, she didn't care. After about a year and a half of smirks, it didn't matter. 

You're wondering where all this is going. Well, you see, somewhere along the bullying, S had developed an internal strength so strong that allowed her to move on and even till date the strength holds her in place. 

And in case you are wondering, this is a true story and S is yours truly. Yes this happened to me. 

Like everything in the 21st century. Bullying too has evolved.  Its no longer restricted to school and college campuses. It has found roots in offices, play fields, and even the cyber space. Can it be eliminated? I don't think so. Just as for every hero, there are a few of us who would rather clap than strive to be the hero; similarly for every bully, there are few of us who would rather surrender than stand. And as long as we have surrenders and clappers, bullies and heroes will co-exist. 

We all know bullies exist for they are trying to fulfill a need or a gap in their being. It could be a desperate call for attention, a desire to be popular or a vent out mechanism for anger stemming from another cause. Irrespective of the cause, it's negative. Positivity from bullying can happen only when the recipient can stand up not necessarily to the bully, but more importantly to themselves. 

Bullying is not only about people physically, verbally or emotionally hurting you. That's just one side of the coin. The other side is YOU getting hurt. We have all gone through life and am sure can cite multiple examples of when we were called names, or boo'ed at or maybe even felt hurt by a very dear and special friend. I know I have. Every single time, my reaction has been to go into the silent zone. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it does help me think through the situation and not reacting instantly sometimes is all that is needed. This strategy works for me. Find out what works for you. Find out what is it that gives you the strength to focus internally, when faced with an adverse bully situation. 

The silence helps me stand up and see the face in the mirror and smile. 

So next time you're in a situation of bullying. Stand up to yourself first and then to the person in front of you. Trust me, standing up to YOURSELF will take a lot more effort. But after that it'll be a cakewalk. 

Why did I choose the topic of "bullying." This friends is my first on demand post. Yes, two weeks ago some one actually texted me and asked me to write about 'bullying." And she's one of the sweetest people I know, so I have wondered why she wanted me to write on a topic that basically translates to aggressive behavior.  I never asked her and now its too late :) 

Her text said "write about bullying in one of your blogposts," and here I am sitting on a wednesday night at 9.04pm, pondering on what to write about bullying. Surely, you're not interested in the clinical perspective of it.  Drawing a blank, I Googled quotes for bullying. In case you haven't figured out, I have a "thing" for quotes. I have always loved them and even today preciously hold on to my collection of "quotable quotes" from my high school and college days. 

The topic resonated well also because its a discussion I have often with both my 11 and 4 year olds. In different perspectives of course. The 4 year old often has a complaint about her friend in preschool who apparently won't play nice if she doesn't get the first turn.  Bullying nor not? Clinically maybe. Realistically speaking no. The little kid is exploring her boundaries and the world around her. For the 11 year old,  I have already narrated this story to him more than once. Told him to NOT please friends, just so he can be in their good books. Told him, that good friends will see through and positive behavior is what gets things going. 

It's okay to clap as the heroes pass by. But it's NOT okay to surrender.  

Taylor Swift sings it very well :) Mean. Love this song! Its so true. 

“If you're horrible to me, I'm going to write a song about it, and you won't like it. That's how I operate.” 
- Taylor Swift

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