These days I am caught between being happy and at the same time sad when I get stories of the bullying that happened to them from others. I have been introduced to a large community of people who, like me, realize that the long-term effects of bullying are real. Most of us deal with the slow burn of realizing the effects much later than when they happened to us. Adam shares his story and his mission here. I am glad that he is speaking here and am honored to share his story. ~Alan Eisenberg
The familiar sound of chalk scraping across the chalk board and the familiar voice of my 9th grade mathematics teacher. The familiar feeling of a familiar day. It was 2nd period. Roughly 10:30 am on beautiful sunny morning. Mathematics was by no measure my favorite class, but I was good at it, and for some reason I felt as though I wanted to do the very best that I could. I was sitting in the front row of the class as usual. Well, ‘as usual’ at this particular point in time. Things change. Behind those changes is a story of why.
This isn’t a story of suddenlys, drama or big events that require big bursts of courage. No. This is a story of the gradual erosion of a rock that takes millions of years, this is a story of the camp fire that slowly runs out of tinder and dies. The flame growing smaller and smaller until it is snuffed out.
It is a story that I’m afraid is not unique to me.
My teacher finished his point. He turned around to face the chalkboard and picked up a piece of chalk and began to write his example so everyone in the class could see it. Then it happened.
It felt as though with every stroke of the chalk on the board I felt a stinging sensation in my left and right ear.
3 years of daily harassment.
Oh, I forgot to mention that sitting behind me was a boy. A boy that made my life hell. I was 15 years old and for 3 years now I had endured the torment of this boy. Ear flicking and just a single name. Not a barrage of torments, just a single phrase that made me feel pretty damn alone. Everyday for the last 3 years I would be called ‘big ears’.
And guess what, it hurt.
On this particular beautiful day though, it got to me more than ever. As the bell rang and the class left for morning tea I sat in the front row, not moving. I didn’t want anyone to see my face. Because the slight trickle of tears I felt on my cheeks were a stark contrast to my still stinging ears.
It had been about 3 years, by this point, and I sat in the front row of second period mathematics crying as a 15 year old boy. Not the proudest moment of my life. But one I feel compelled to share.
The damage done by bullying takes time.
Because the damage of bullying isn’t done in a day, a week or even a month. It is done over time. As human beings we are all resilient, we are all powerful. But we are also creatures of conditioning. The power of conditioning can either be our friend or our enemy. When our daily lives are filled with torment we slowly begin to accept it for the norm and when that happens and the walls of our regular torment grow around us and too high for us to see out of, that is when the damage begins.
For so long I forgot who I was, for a long time I did not have confidence in myself and for a long time I did not believe in myself. I turned into an angry person that didn’t trust people.
“If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” -Abraham Lincoln
The root cause of this belief was I had blamed other people for not stepping in to help me or to stand up for me. I could probably focus on that for the rest of my life, but instead a new mantra was born.
“I am 100% responsible for my own life.”
I have learnt that anything less than that is unacceptable. My life is my responsibility. I have precious hours, minutes and seconds and it’s my choice, responsibility and obligation to spend them in a way that honors the gift of time that I have been given.
“You may delay but time will not.” Benjamin Franklin.
When I was a child I was audacious, I was happy and full of adventure. I know this because my father told me that, he told me that I had changed, but he didn’t really know why.
Look for the positive and you will find it.
I take it as a blessing to have gone through the experience, mostly because what choice do I have. I could play the victim card for the rest of my life, but what good would that do me or anyone else?
You really don’t know what you had until you’ve lost it and for a long time I lost myself but I didn’t know it. I lost my confidence and self belief. But I have found it again. Unlike in a Hollywood movie my confidence and self belief didn’t come rushing back with an inspiring speech or motivational montage. It took time. It happened in bits and pieces.
It started to come back by the aid of conditioning. But not intentionally. I wish I could take credit for a master plan to re enable myself, to instill myself with the charisma and character that I had as a child. But it was more or less by mistake. I simply wasn’t happy with who I had become, so I began to change what I was consuming. I began to consume A LOT of motivational material. Positive things. Through that effort of filling my brain with positive influences I began to reprogram how I thought. I began to recondition myself.
Choose to believe the best.
I choose to believe the best in life, even if by some chance it isn’t really there. Because if you believe long enough and allow your beliefs to direct your thoughts and your thoughts direct your actions the ‘best’ that you believed will have a far better chance of actually being true.
So I choose to focus on the best in life and not pay any attention to the negative.
“The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him” -Abraham Lincoln.
So to finish up. I am grateful for the experience, because I have come to believe that everything that happens in life is an opportunity to learn and to grow.
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” -Napoleon Hill.
The lessons I’ve taken away from my experience with bullying.
What we focus on grows. So focus on the positive.
We are 100% responsible for our lives, so take charge.
We are creatures of conditioning, we must feed our minds with good. We have the power to program ourselves the way we want to be programmed.
Spend our time on purpose, spend it in a way that honors the gift of hours, minutes and seconds we have.