School has started for another year. I assure you, you will have the opportunity to look back on your school time with fondness; making new friends, learning new things, and, hopefully memorable experiences.
One thing that often plagues new school years is the beginning of, or continuation of, bullying of some students. It is distracting to learning. It makes new friendships difficult, and can often lead to feelings of despair and doubting one’s own self-worth.
Those outcomes are tragic and inexcusable. Bullies have no place in our society. Even though the problems of bullying are now discussed, and discouraged by teachers and school administrators, the actions continue.
I will admit, in grade school I was bullied quite extensively. So much so that, not only did I doubt my own self-worth, I was intimidated by the bullies who seemed to have the ability to not only enjoy sadism, but to draw crowds of supporters who made defending oneself even more formidable.
The depression it caused me was something I could hide from others, but not from myself. I struggled. I was smart, I had the potential to excel in my studies, but I suppressed my potential in hopes of tolerating school by going unnoticed and never looking back. Within months of graduation, I received my draft notice.
I had no money to escape the draft by enrolling in college, so I rushed down to the U.S. Air Force recruiter and enlisted. Within a few days I was in San Antonio, Texas. Bullies in the military, you bet! Many of those attitudes were squelched in basic training, but by the time we made it to tech school, the bully leaders reemerged. And they always seemed to garner an entourage, which made them appear to be “natural leaders.”
I determined that the only hope was to endure my time in the service, the way I had endured through school. However, I did begin to wonder if there was hope of ever escaping the status of victim, in any future. I was still intimidated, and as those “natural leaders” gained rank, the intimidation grew.
Everything changed when we were sent to combat! I learned that the bullies were often people with the least self-confidence. Most were made bullies by entitlement and/or parents or siblings who abused them. They discovered they could gain self-confidence and a following, by being the toughest bully on the playground.
When forced into actual combat their self-delusion broke down, often tragically. When faced with actual danger, many lost that false bravado they had fooled themselves and others with.
When thousands of miles from home, when bullets were flying, when people were dying, when money and birthright no longer protected them, bullies often became pitiful cowards. They could not understand why their entourage was concerned about themselves and not fueling the ego of their “leader.”
Many of them came through the experience better people. Many of them apologized to the victims of their bullying. Those, who survived, often returned home better human beings.
I’m not sure if what I am telling you will help, but the message is this: bullies become bullies because they lack confidence in themselves. You don’t have to pity them, but don’t allow them to intimidate you. They may gather a following, but they are not “natural leaders.” Maybe you aren’t able to protect yourself from them, but they do not control your self-worth. They are trying to find confidence in themselves, by taking yours. Keep that in mind and know that they are not better than you, nor better looking than you, nor smarter than you, and most of all not tougher than you. You control your own destiny; don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise.