“…words will never hurt me.”…Not really.

“I’m not the only kid
Who grew up this way
Surrounded by people who used to say
That rhyme about sticks and stones
As if broken bones
Hurt more than the names we got called
And we got called them all
So we grew up believing no one
Would ever fall in love with us
That we’d be lonely forever
That we’d never meet someone
To make us feel like the sun
Was something they built for us
In their tool shed
So broken heart strings bled the blues
As we tried to empty ourselves
So we would feel nothing
Don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone”

There were no better words I could start this piece with than these. The magnificent work of Shane Koyczan’s spoken word poem ‘To This Day’ can pierce through the hardest of hearts and leave an everlasting mark on anyone who cares enough to listen.

I have been contemplating writing about bullying for a while now, and I just couldn’t bring myself to. Having gone through a phase of it for the longest time growing up, it brought back quite a few repressed childhood memories every time I decided to sit and write. But I know it’s important, and it has helped shape the woman I have become, for better or for worse. I also know that there could be someone out there who needed words to describe how they felt, and if mine could be the ones that help them, I would feel a sense of fulfilment in doing what I could. I know it could make a difference; I’ve had a fair share of writers do the same for me. Especially after writing my recent post on “What are you afraid of?”, I knew it was time for me to write what this made me feel.

So many parents used to think that bullying builds character. Zack W. Van says “Bullying builds character like nuclear waste creates superheroes. It’s a rare occurrence and often does much more damage than endowment.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. I’d go so far as to say that most of the horror stories we hear of bad people in this world is probably to do with a bad childhood and had some influences of bullying somewhere. This is why when kids come home and say they’re having troubles, they need to be taken seriously. I was too scared to say anything to my family because some of the people that called me names were a part of it, apart from the “friends” I had. I briefly fought back, but realised it turned me into a bit of a bully too, and that I wasn’t proud of. So I broke away from all those toxic people and started rebuilding myself, piece by broken piece. I hit rock bottom before I tried to surface up, though.

These words from Simple Plan’s song ‘Welcome to My Life‘ perfectly summarise how every victim of bullying feels.

When most people meet me today, they see a confident, happy woman. An attractive woman, even, some have told me. A woman full of life, laughter and hope. Hope. That’s what they get from me too, to hope for the better things; to hope for change. This confidence, this yearning for hope, this faith in things getting better – it’s a by-product of years of being made to feel the opposite. I was the one that hid in the shadows; that wasn’t “enough”. I could never amount to much, because I didn’t have what it took. Things couldn’t change, because let’s face it, have I observed myself closely? No one could really love me, because there are way more prettier women around, clearly. No one ever said things to me directly, but enough and more of this was subtly tossed my way. So subtly in fact, that I did not see it creep slowly into my soul, poisoning it to believe I wasn’t worth the time of the day to anyone. Shane K says this really well in the rest of the poem, and that is why it strikes such a chord with me. It can break people, particularly kids, really easily. And sometimes you aren’t fortunate enough to ever recover, and you’re scarred for life. Or worse, even.

Sometimes, you’re lucky. You have people to stand up for you. Who love you not in spite of what the world says your shortcomings are, but because of them. And they do all they can to make sure you rise above the situation, and become the best version of you that you can be. If you can’t be perfect, that’s okay. They will still love you. I wish more people did that. If there were more people to stand up, there wouldn’t be any more bullies. As they say though, “Life is a fight, but not everyone’s a fighter. Otherwise, bullies would be an endangered species.”

But that may never be enough when you are left with a damaged soul. You’re too scared to let anyone in, because what if they pull you down from all the progress you’ve made? What if they tear down the person you’ve managed to heal yourself and turn into? Of course, at this point, you will only know by taking that risk and letting them in. Or you used the scars you have had to deal with and turn it into something positive. Become a force so strong, that everyone knows you’re one to be reckoned with. Help heal all those broken souls you can find and set them on their way to greatness. Help them discover the beauty that is them, inside and outside. And then, you will free yourself from the shackles that held you back, all that didn’t let you soar to the heights you were meant to reach.

I end this on this note; food for thought, if you will –
What if the one you bullied ends up being the only one who can possibly save your life?

<3

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Day 17 — Dear awesome new friends

Dear awesome new friends,

I was just going to say, you are out-of-this-world-amazing, and that is all. But decided not to be so off-handed about it, especially since you all know me as the one who can never stop at a few words :P

I’ve met almost all of you after making the move to a country that I knew nothing about. If you are still a part of my life, it is because you have enriched my experience of it in many ways. I need you to know that your presence is appreciated, and everyday, I learn so many new things thanks to you. About you, about myself, and about the world. I hope I add some value to your life too :)

I If we don’t talk enough, or seem to have fallen out, that sucks. But it’s the down side to changing personalities and, quite often, changing interests. I wish we weren’t drifting apart, and I wish things were different. Here’s hoping things will change!

Till we all make new memories again,

Me

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Am I who I wanted to be?

This was a post I had started a while ago, and never got around to finishing. Now is as better a time as any, with the publishing of my last post, to do it. So, here goes.

Every year, I ask myself this question, in terms of the previous year I had. But it’s not so I can make new resolutions on New Year’s (because we all know how that turns out). No, it’s something I do on my birthday, to judge for myself if I still like the person I’m becoming. And to set/edit a few goals/resolutions that help mould that person.

For a while, I’ve been in a reflective mood. Trying to evaluate if I was going on the right path with my life. I generally do this around the time I think I need to evaluate/re-evaluate my goals/resolutions. Then I realised, I didn’t care if it was ‘right’. What I really cared about was if it was the path that made me a happy person or not.

What made me actually finish this piece of writing was when I was talking to someone very close to me, and she said that she was amazed at the person I’d become. That I’d changed, and yet I still remained the same. How did that work?

When I was evaluating that statement, I realised what it was. I had begun to heal from the old, not so complete version of myself. I was more confident. I was more open about what I had to say. And, as per my best friend, I was “becoming more of a woman”. Yes, he actually says things like that to me :)

Am I the best version of myself that I can ever be? No. But I’m definitely on the path to being it. And I like the way I’m going.

I have finally realised that my path to progressing towards being the person I want to be is not dependent on what people around me think. It matters more as to what I think, and whether I am willing to go to whatever lengths for it.

Something tells me I am.

Image

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What are you afraid of?

As I always do after a gap, I start this with an apology. I know it isn’t fair for me to not warn all you wonderful people about not writing and just disappear. But, the only explanation is that life got in the way. I was dealing with some personal troubles, and had a bit of writer’s block. But, on the plus side, I’ve managed to end up with two (hopefully decent) posts after that writing freeze.

I was talking to someone the other day, and they asked me what I was afraid of. And of course, my instinctive reaction was to say, ‘Thunderstorms’. That, and horror movies, have always been the two things I couldn’t deal with. More often than not, the expression I was left with during either was always something like this:

I know, laughable. But, I kid you not, I get the heebie-jeebies with both of those.

But, when I sat to think about it more seriously, about what was it that I was afraid of, it made me reflect on my life. I do that sometimes, it helps me gain clarity on what I’m thinking about. It got personal, maybe more than I had bargained for. It took me a while to get around it, but I realised…My biggest fear, that always scared me for the longest time, was not being enough.

afraid-of?

I know I’m not alone in having this fear. Most (if not all) women, and many men, are insecure about some aspect of theirs. They may feel they’re not sexy enough, not athletic enough, not hipster enough, not fair enough, not tanned enough…the highly superficial list goes on. But yeah, I have to admit, it’s the most crippling feeling ever.

When have I felt like this? All through my life. Society has a set of rules it sets, that people – and in my case particularly, women – are expected to conform to. I was never one of the conformists, for whatever reason. I started off being okay with that, but there were a lot of people who weren’t. I was ridiculed growing up, from a very young age, about the way I looked, the things I did – I wasn’t part of the “cool” crowd, or the “popular” crowd. Sometimes, even my family and friends made jokes at my expense. I would take it all in my stride, but as time passed, my faith in myself began to dwindle. I began to believe I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t smart enough to be a top student. I wasn’t pretty enough to have a boy want to talk to me, or good enough for a boy to like me. I wasn’t talented enough to make my parents proud of me.

And it got to me enough to want to stay on the sidelines. I chose to be behind the scenes, and be the one that hid from everything and everyone, as long as I could do things like writing and reading; things that made me happy. It was a time that took me to a bit of a dark place, one that I really didn’t like. But when I got to the other side of it, I was glad. With some help, my writing (as I’ve said before) and a stronger heart and soul, I tried to turn things around as much as I could.

I realised that I had a soul that was damaged enough to not want someone else go through the same thing I did, so I became the best kind of friend anyone could ask for – the one who listened. I realised there were too many toxic people in my life that I needed to walk away from, and that is what I started to do. I was made to realise (by some wonderful people) that I had a personality that could win over almost anyone if I tried, so try I did. I was also made to realise that I just hadn’t recognised I was beautiful – not just on the inside, but the outside as well. Do you know how liberating and soul-freeing that is? I can tell you, it is very much so.

I think I’ve been lucky to have things turn around like that for me. It took a long while (nearly 14 years since it all first started) for it all to change, but luckily, it started to. Not everyone has that kind of luck, and you hear of horrid things that happen to a whole lot of people who could not take the pressure to conform anymore. To be what they weren’t. To not deal with what scared them the most.

To anyone who identifies with this as they read it, I only say this. One day, I recognised what I was afraid of. I chose to surround myself with more people that raised me up, than brought me down. And that is the day I started healing. It’s a continuous process, and someday, you will make it through. One day, it gets better. Just start with that basic question…

What are you afraid of?

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