So, this post isn’t about books. It’s because of something I’m seeing a lot in the news lately, and in my FB feed, and it’s troubling me, so I wanted to say something. This is a bit long, but please bear with me.
Since I moved to Florida six months ago, I’ve heard about four middle-schoolers who have committed suicide. FOUR. The most recent was this week, a sixth grader in a middle school in the next county. He’d been bullied mercilessly because he was smaller than average and one day last week, he killed himself in a school bathroom.
You see it in the news nationwide, these kids who are bullied because of their size, sexual orientation, because they wear glasses or braces or are poor or socially awkward, or even when there’s nothing different about them at all. Because frankly, middle schoolers and high-schoolers can be mean. Period.
But if this is you, if you are getting bullied, please HEAR ME NOW. IT WILL GET BETTER. IT WILL.
When I was in grade school, I lived with my grandparents. And of course fashion wasn’t the most important thing to them, so I dressed a bit funny. I had glasses. I wasn’t a “cool kid” because not everyone is lucky enough to be born into a perfect family with money and the desire to make sure their kids fit in. I didn’t have piano lessons and a soccer team and the best of everything. In fact, look at this picture. You can see my progression of being a funny-looking little girl, to when I finally blossomed and came into my own. But I was awkward and gawky for a lonnnnngg time.
I was teased. I didn’t have any friends. I was isolated and sad. I wasn’t shoved into lockers or anything because that’s usually a boy thing, I think. But I was made fun of and ostracized, and that’s just as bad.
Then in sixth grade, I changed schools and things didn’t get any better. Kids were mean to me that whole year. The stress of it made me physically sick– I missed so many days of school because of fevers, brought on by worrying about my life at school.
Kids that age (and I know, because I was one), they just don’t see that things will ever get better. They don’t see it, they can’t fathom it. They can’t see outside of today, or this week, and right now, things suck. Bad. They need someone to tell them– Hey, it’ll get better. I promise. Hang in there.
Books became my friends, and I read voraciously. When no one wanted to sit with me, I put my nose in a book and disappeared into a different world. And guess what? It totally worked out for me. That love of reading turned into a love of writing, which is now a very good career for me. A career that I love, a career that I’m blessed by.
By middle-school, I’d started to come out of it. I made some friends and things started to change. But I was scarred by the bullying from grade school, for sure. It’s something that you never forget.
I’m no longer the skinny little bespeckled girl who was ostracized. I’m a successful, happy, well-adjusted independent woman. Learning how to deal with the mean kids made me grow as a person. I became self-reliant. Because no matter how bad a situation is, you can always take something from it.
This is what I took from it. It’s a quote my grandma shared with me during that awful time. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt. And you know what? It was true. What some stuck-up, self-important snooty kids think of you simply doesn’t matter. Not in the long run. It might feel that way today, but trust me, in twenty years, those kids will be less than NOTHING to you. Their opinion of you doesn’t matter. Not really. In fact, a lot of them will grow up to have icky lives, because I fully believe that whatever you put into the world, you get back in some way.
I know that’s hard to believe right now, right now in this instant when you are so miserable and sad. So let me share another piece of wisdom that my grandma used to tell me, something that I never found comforting at the time, but now I know it’s true: This too shall pass. She’d always say, This too shall pass, honey. It always does.
And you know what? She was right. Everything passes. What seems unbearable to you now, won’t be unbearable to you in a blink of an eye. The kids that are mean to you right now? They’ll be ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to you in just a few years.
So please. PLEASE. If you find yourself in a dark place where you feel like you can’t take it anymore, PLEASE tell someone. Tell your mom. Don’t be embarrassed. Tell your dad. Tell your counselor. Be honest, be straight-forward. Tell them,”This is bad. I need help.” SOMEONE WILL HELP YOU. There are online classes, there are alternatives, you can be helped. But please. Give someone the chance to help you. They don’t know if you don’t say anything.
Just please… tell someone. And always know that no matter how hard it gets, it’s temporary. EVERYTHING is always temporary. It’ll get better. You just have to give it the chance.