Professor Richard Dawkins recently composed a tweet featuring the lovely Jaclyn Glenn with a video concerning cyber bullying and harassment. This is a topic that I know all too well and for the life of me, I'm not sure why I haven't reached out to share my experience and advice for people who might be going through similar circumstances. Jaclyn reminded me that it's about time I do just that considering my massive intellect and experience in these matters.
For a three year period of my life, 6th-8th grade, I was constantly tormented, ridiculed and put down by others. It was always instigated by one person who seemed to have it out for me. As a result of this constant bullying, my mental anguish started to manifests itself physically. I'd get bald patches in my hair and rather severe eczema from the ordeal. I lied to my parents at the time and told them it was stress from school work that caused this. For some reason, pinning it on an adult seemed far better to me than facing the peers that were causing me such pain. I'd tell myself, ah, they're just having a little joke at my expense and brush it off. The thing is, when you're constantly put in a position of inferiority, you start behaving like you belong there. Eventually, I acted out, joined the cool kids, started to smoke at the age of 12 and even managed to get myself arrested for shoplifting, all because I didn't want to go back to being that little insignificant spec of nothing. One problem though. I'm fucking awesome. I just didn't believe it.
It took me a long while to realize that particular fact too. Friends already knew it, they chose to hang out with me after all. Still, the effects of those events took its toll. Not physically. My hair grew back and my hands became the most gorgeous pair of hands on the planet. It was how I behaved when I was with others that changed. Just taking a walk down the street, I'd hang my head low to avoid potential confrontation, for fear that what happened in the 3 year cycle might come back all over again. My posture was that of someone who was uncomfortable because that's how I felt in the presence of others. It was only through self discovery that I made the connection that the events of my past dictated who I was in the present. The great news is that it can change. For anyone.
More great news: It gets a hell of a lot better. No really! I'm sitting here at my own damn computer. I don't want to wear pants, off they go. If I feel like beef jerky for breakfast? BAM. I've kissed a girl. Several in fact! On the lips and everything! And those assholes that used to pick on me? I haven't heard from them in decades.
The people who are doing this to you won't be in your life for long. If you're currently experiencing something similar to what I went through, get a grownup involved. Not like I did. Tell the truth. Pro tip: Not all adults grow up to be awesome understanding individuals. Sometimes people actually have shitty parents. Get someone with authority that seems to give a damn and if it doesn't work out, find another. There's a large supply of adults that will help you. Also social media is an awesome place where you can tell your story and there are adults out there who will spread the word so you don't feel so alone. Yeah, sure, there are people out there who just want to feed on someone's misery but that gets drowned out fairly quickly by like minded people who give a shit about others. Because of us, the world's already progressing towards a better place so hop on this train and lend your voice.
See, the trick to all this is not just being yourself. It's about being your best self. Who you are on the surface and at your core is something that's malleable. Take Neil Strauss as an example. Now I'm not suggesting you become some sort of pick up guru like he did, but his transformation and that of others is a prime example that one can elevate themselves to the status of rock star that I'm sure is inside everyone reading this. Small problem though. That means you're going to have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations in order to get used to them. Public speaking and talking to strangers for one, is something that's always been hard for me. You think that they won't respond, think you're a joke, then you revert back to your old self where people are judging you and you feel like crap. And you know what, sometimes they do just that. But do we really want those kind of people in our immediate circle of awesome people? I sure as hell don't. So think of rejection as a way of weeding out the bad. Keep in mind, asking yourself if you could modify your approach sometimes helps you make a connection where there wouldn't be one before. When things click, you'll know it.
So the first step out of this is to become your number one judge of character. Start by looking at yourself and asking yourself why you feel or behave a certain way. Understanding the why leads to solutions. For me, it was that voice in my head. You know the one that tells you "I'm not that good at x"? Well, that's your ego and because you were in a situation where people tormented you, it's looking out for it's own best interests so that doesn't happen again. Like a survival mechanism. If you keep listening to it and self-deprecating, that will leave us in the same place we've always been. I don't know about you, but I want to go over THERE. THERE being the place where you see people talking to each other without a care in the world. So here's a neat exercise you can do. Close your eyes and try to see if that little fucker wants to come talk. Start thinking of past events where you heard it before. What's it saying? Hold onto it until it's loud and clear. Where's it coming from? It might be in your head or in your gut. Just visualize it as it's coming out of you into the air so you can hear it. Now picture a box and put it right in front of you. What we're going to do is take that voice and run it through the box. The box is pretty neat though. It makes all sound going into it come out sounding like Goofy. Doesn't sound so bad now that it's as if Goofy's saying it huh? Alright, go ahead and put that voice back where it came from. Now, when you hear it, it'll sound just like a cartoon character that's not to be taken seriously so we can move onto being our best self. It also works for the voices of others that would want to put us down and a great way not to take them seriously. Basically tricking our brains into thinking that as well. Just don't use it for important stuff you might need to remember, like college. Sure your class might be a hell of a lot more entertaining but you'll be struggling come exam time.
Our brains are stupid organs that sometimes need help in order to work properly. Even the simplest image can cause them to malfunction. How is one supposed to trust what it's telling us regarding something as complex as social interaction? My journey into self discovery started with my fascination towards the opposite sex. A friend lent me "The Game" by Neil Strauss and as a result, I was able to shake myself out of my old self into who I am today. I'd just scour the Internet for anything related to self improvement and social behavior. My only regret is that it took so long for me to discover this amazing ability to transition from one state of mind to another.
It doesn't have to be about looking to attract a mate either, although it is a pretty great motivator. Self confidence. That's the key. And if your brain isn't letting you be self confident, make it learn. Something as simple as correcting your posture and forcing a smile can go a long way. Hit the youtubes and do some searching. The great thing about self improvement videos is that the people presenting the stuff are already self confident so they're not boring. Be self conscious about it until it becomes second nature to hold yourself a certain way. Reinforce yourself positively by repeating to yourself "I am fucking awesome!" It sounds corny as hell, but it works. For everything. Job interviews, getting yourself noticed at work, dating, mating and anything else that has another human being involved. All this can be improved upon and changed.
A lot of the stress in our lives is due to us thinking either about the past or the future. Either we're reliving a painful event and our brain is in a feedback loop or we're worrying about things that almost never turn out the way we thought they would. Both of those states of mind are problematic to our minds because there is no solution due to the fact that we can only influence the present. That's one of the reasons people tattoo Carpe Diem on their bodies, because it's such an elusive concept to remember. Think of what you'd like to be doing right now and just do it. Find what turns you on. Do something or try something new. And if the "something new" is you wanting to get a tattoo, get something other than Carpe Diem. It's been done. Get something strong like a giant bear beating the shit out of a tree or something. Be creative.
Once you feel better about yourself, there are few obstacles that will give you pause. That and you won't even give a shit what other's think because you'll know, without a shadow of a doubt that you're awesome without the need to be told as much. And for the hard obstacles that may come, you'll be prepared and have a horde of people to back you up because they'll take one look at you and be like, man, I want to be around that person. It's just up to you to show your best self to everyone and overcome your brain's failings. I hope this helps put your best foot forward to succeed and overcome this shitty period in your life. I did.
Lots of love,