I’m 29 years old – that means I was born in 1983. It was around that time where parents began to go off the deep end. Prior to that, corporal punishment was the norm, as was letting kids run around outside unsupervised, or riding bikes without helmets. To this day, there has not been any razor blades found in apples, but that doesn’t stop people from freaking out every Halloween. If you tell these same parents that the majority of Halloween poisonings happen because of something given to children by their parents, you get a beautiful “deer in the headlights” look from them.
But I’m not here to talk about all that stuff. It would take too long, and we both have better things to do than hear my redundant ranting on the subject. What I do want to talk about is the twisted idea of “self-esteem.” Most people have no idea what self-esteem is, and it’s proven in the way people try to boost it or combat the attacking of it. It never ceases to amaze me how many people stick up for others, because people are harming that person’s self-esteem. The key words in self-esteem are “self” and “esteem.”
Self – noun – an individual
Esteem – noun – respect or admiration
So, self-esteem means the way a person thinks about his/her self. It has nothing to do with the opinions of others and falls directly on the self. Granted, it’s paradoxical, because no one is an island to themselves; we are all effected by others’ esteem of us. The paradox unfolds when we get into the way we develop our esteem based in others’ esteem of us. If we have loving parents, good friends, and responsible teachers, then our self-esteem can be inflated and we become secure people…but, too much of it, and we become codependent, which is the opposite of high self-esteem. It’s all very complex.
This brings me to the topic in the title: bullying. I have been “the new kid” three times in my life: when I was five, when I was seven, and when I was twelve. The first time was when I was moved from kindergarten to first grade halfway through the year, because I was so bored that I made my teacher miserable. I got bullied a lot in that school, to the point where I packed rocks into my backpack for self defense. At age five. The next, at age seven, was because of a move to a new school in a new state. Plenty of bullying there, too. But it wasn’t until I was 12 that the bullying had to do with my being “the new kid.” It had to do with my being a goody-goody smart-ass…the first behavior being the expectations of others and the second being part of my intrinsic personality.
At 12, I moved to a new state on the other side of the country, to a place where I would be seen as “the new kid” for the next three years. My graduating class at 18 was a mere 180 kids, and there wasn’t a lot of transition in that area of the world. There was some sort of convention I missed in elementary school where it was determined who was cool and who wasn’t, and it lasted until we graduated high school. The majority of those kids were, simply-speaking, fucked up. They lived in a bubble on the side of a mountain with no clue what the real world was like. To this day, the majority of the people I graduated with still live in the same county.
But, by that time in my life, I had taken a lot of shit already, just being who I was. Obviously, who we are changes over time, and I grew a lot when I became a teenager. My point is, the reason I had the high level of self-esteem that I had was because I took all that shit from other people. I got picked on, and I had to learn how to deal with it. I got in fights. And, contrary to popular belief, nobody wins a fight. You survive a fight. The way you handle the aftermath is what defines you. It takes a lot more self-esteem to know you got your ass kicked and still hold your head high. This brings me to modern American educational policies about bullying.
Lots of schools have ridiculous “No Bullying” policies, now, that are truly pointless. Beyond the fact that bullying can actually develop self-esteem, there’s the fact that you simply can’t legislate away peoples’ rights to be assholes. There are people I know, today, who are bullies. We can all name a douchebag 40-year-old bully who, in reality, has way less self-esteem the most other people. The irony of bullies is that they are the codependent ass-hats who have no self-esteem, and the kids who endure them are the ones who are truly strong. Now, telling that to a third-grader who’s getting teased for having braces doesn’t work. The same morons who have created these “Zero Tolerance for Bullying” rules were the idiots who told me to “just ignore the bullies.”
This shit does not work. Period.
Once you are an adult and have a developed sense of self-esteem, you can ignore the bullies of the world. You can hold your tongue when a dick cop gives you flack for no reason. You can walk away from a moron at a bar who can’t shut his stupid face. But, when you’re a kid, you can’t do that. If you tattle, it makes it worse. If you walk away, it makes it worse. You can not ignore them. They will not find new targets. They will be thrilled that their insecure asses have a target who they can just prey on indefinitely. The only real solution is to fight back. Even if you lose, it’s better than taking it. Why? Because it develops that sense of self worth. It creates self-esteem.
You can’t stop bullying. To stop it, you have to stop parents from abusing their kids, or stop child molesters from molesting kids. You can not achieve this. You can make laws and you can make rules, but you can not prevent it 100%. And people who freak out about it are people who were bullied and didn’t handle it – they didn’t develop the right self-esteem – and they are terrified that they can’t help their kid, and that they will turn into the same people they are. So they blame bullies, or teachers who don’t stop it, or countless other things, because they can’t handle reality, either.
For more on the subject, check out this video I made:
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