My post today is something that really bothers me, it’s about bullying. In today’s era, it’s more prevalent than it was before social media. When I was growing up and then first entered the work force, bullying existed but it wasn’t as high profile as what it is now. Then, it happened but people weren’t aware like they are today. There wasn’t the memes, the videos, the posts, the pictures, the tagging. It still had the same affect on the victims, just not everyone was aware the problem was a big as what it was.
I was bullied in school. There was this one boy that apparently felt his day wasn’t complete until he humiliated me every single day of my 5th and 6th grade years. His family had money and mine didn’t. I didn’t wear the best of clothes. I didn’t have the newest fad items. My teeth were crooked and I had a weird laugh (I still do, it’s called having asthma, which makes me wheeze when I laugh). He used those things in order to humiliate me, daily. I hated going to school. I hated having to face this each and every day. But yet I did. I faced him and never let him see me cry. I would ask to be excused and go in the bathroom and cry each and every day. The teachers didn’t notice or care, I really don’t know which. But I felt weak. I felt defeated. I felt like the world was against me. The other kids would laugh because they didn’t want to get retaliated against. I had one friend I would confide in. She was home schooled so she didn’t have to endure this kind of experience so she didn’t really get what I was going through. But she would listen and cry with me. I spent almost every weekend at her house. It was like a vacation, a retreat. I didn’t tell my parents because I figured really, there wasn’t anything they could do about it. I just dealt with it. If affected me emotionally, mentally. It got in my head. I was self-conscience about my teeth, my laugh, my clothes. He would make fun of me because of my speech impediment. He would make fun of me because I pronounced either and neither differently from the rest of the class (yes, there are two ways to say those words). And yes, 35 years later I still resent this guy. I still hate this guy. If I were to see him today I would want to punch him in the face. Bullying can damage people. It can have affects that you don’t know about. It can damage us mentally and emotionally. It can weaken us. It can break us. But it didn’t. What I didn’t realize was, it was making me into the person you know and (maybe not) love today.
When I entered the workforce I thought those days were gone. I thought “now I’m an adult, married, raising my baby and no one will bother me”. I was wrong. There were ladies (I use that term loosely) that took an instant dislike to me because I had a sister in management. They thought I was getting ‘special treatment’ because of her. They would taunt me, make fun of how I dressed (because again, I didn’t have designer clothes or the nice things they had), talk about me to other co-workers, leave ugly notes on my desk, and even went to the HR rep to say I was doing things I wasn’t doing, all to ‘punish’ me. To show me how tough they were. To show me not to mess with them. It was agonizing. It was tough. I dreaded going to work every single day. I was confused because I’m out of school, why is this still happening? I didn’t know adults bullied, too. Boy was I surprised. But what they didn’t realize was that I had the same thing going on in my home life. I was married to my first husband and had a new baby. They didn’t realize that not only was I taking heat from them, but when I got home, I got to go through it again. He was, let’s say, not the nicest person to live with and I’ll leave it at that. There were days I really didn’t think I was going to make it. There were days I just wanted everything to stop. But I had my baby and I had a great family. A lot of help from them with my daughter. Thank goodness. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it. But again, I thought I was going to break, lose my mind, not make it through. But I did. Again.
My daughter grew up and entered high school. Those ladies from work, ALL GONE but I’m still there. The husband, GONE, but I’m still there and stronger than ever. But now she is getting bullied. There were some girls that just liked picking on her. It would make me ANGRY. I would get furious when she would come home and tell me about it. But alas, she graduated and made it through. It didn’t break her, either. She is strong, like her mother, but probably doesn’t realize it.
So there was bullying to me in school and in the workforce and in my home. There was bullying of my child. These things just weigh on a person. They make you question. And this is where some people don’t make it. I don’t have statistics, but there are so many people that can’t make it through. There are so many people that do get broken. All because someone thought it would be fun to pick on them, bully them, harass them. And when the person breaks, the one responsible never accepts the fact it was them. That’s what is sad. They just continue on to the next person.
Now, I’m older. I’ve been at my company right at 28 years. I’m in management. My sister is retired (lucky her lol). Things are going smoothly. I love my job. I love what I do. I have a couple of good friends I’ve made along the way. One I can count on no matter what. My BFF. The one person everyone needs in their lives. I have a great husband. I love him more than I can express. I have four adorable grandchildren and 3 wonderful children (9 total grandchildren when adding in the extended family). I have good bosses that I love working with and a good department that I love running. My life is great!
I’m a strong woman, I speak my mind, I hold my head high, nothing gets to me. I’ve been through quite a bit in my lifetime. Hard times, good times, questionable times. But when you see me, I show you the strong, opinionated, open, sometimes loud, extroverted side. You will not see who I am on the inside. You will not see the questioning, the anxious, the worried, the quiet, the introverted side (unless you are my BFF or my husband). You will never know that side exists. But it does. I have learned to hide it very well over the years. I have learned to make sure it doesn’t exist any longer when I am at work, or out in public for that matter. I have learned to not allow any one to bully me, run over me, think they are stronger than me. You will lose. I will win. That’s my attitude. That’s what I’ve learned from being bullied and pushed. You will not see me be weak. You will not see me cry. EVER.
But adult bullying happens every day. I see it at work, I see it on social media, I see it on TV. People talking and making fun of others. People posting funny memes and tagging others. They never say “hey, this is what we were talking about” or “hey, remember when you said this about so and so?” It’s underlying. It’s a way of bullying people silently. Does the person they are referencing in the meme know it’s about them? Sometimes, depending on the situation. And sometimes, even if it isn’t about them directly, they may feel it is when they see it just because of situations that have gone on or are going on at work. But the ones tagging are the same people you will hear making statements such as “if someone bullies my kid I’ll……” or “how dare they say that about my kid. I’m going to…..” But it’s okay for them to do it to their co-workers? No, it isn’t.
Do you know what is going on in that person’s life? Do you know what is going on in that person’s mind? Do you know the stability of that person? NO. Do you know if that person is reading social media and thinks “that is about me” and is thinking “I can’t take it any more”? NO. Do you know that ‘innocent, funny’ post could be the straw that tips the person over the edge, making them think there is only one way out of the misery? The only way out is to harm themselves? Do you want that on your conscience? Do you have a conscience? Do you know that could be the straw that causes that person to come to work thinking the only way out is to hurt the person causing their pain so they come to work and not only hurt that one person, but several innocent people as well? Could you live with that?
Words hurt. Actions hurt. You may not see it. You may not know. You are minding your own business, going about your day, talking about this person and that person to your ‘friends’. Posting funny things. But you have no idea what you are doing to that person. Do they know you are talking about them, making fun of them, telling everyone stuff about them? Probably more than you know. You think they don’t know, you think no one will tell them. But then the snickering starts when they walk by or the ones that used to be ‘close’ to them start acting different towards them. You don’t think they can pick on changed behavior? You don’t think they hear the whispers? That, my friend, is bullying. That, my friend, can cause damage. That, my friend, needs to stop.
I don’t use social media as my soap box but if I did, the things I would say. I try to keep my Facebook and Instagram away from controversial topics but sometimes it’s so hard. Sometimes I just want to yell “grow up, act professional, stop being a child!” Sometimes I want to say “grow a set and get over it. Put your adult underwear on and move on.” But I don’t say these things. I also don’t post memes or videos tagging others with underlying meanings about my co-workers. (ok, there’s one that comes to mind but I regretted it after I posted it) I don’t want to be a bully. I try hard to be considerate of the feelings of others. Do I always succeed? No. Do I sometimes say things about people that I shouldn’t? Yes. I’m not perfect. But I will stay professional. I will respect others on social media. I will think about another person’s feelings. But not everyone does. Not everyone cares what others think. Not everyone cares what is going on in someone else’s life. They don’t care if that person is struggling financially, or emotionally, or mentally. This is how the world is going. Everyone only cares about themselves.
I will share my point of view of things…… we are all in a position where we should be an example, not the problem. If you had two employees that were doing this and you had to cover the situation with them and they brought up something you posted, could you defend yourself? If not, you are the problem, not the example.
But in the end, I may still encounter people from time to time that feel the need to challenge me. But as I’ve grown, I have found that I can hide my true feelings, thoughts and most of the time, facial expressions. I will do as needed in order to maintain professionalism, to maintain my reputation. But remember those ladies in the beginning? They thought they were winning, too. Where are they now? Who knows? Who really cares? I don’t.
So as I go through life, encountering the bullies, I just remember one thing, no matter what happens, no matter the visual outcome……
I. will. win.
But not everyone does. Some people think there is only one way out. Some people have so much going on in their minds that they can’t take that one little thing you thought was ‘innocent’. Think before you act. Think before you post. Is it funny and too good to pass up? Think about this, what if someone was posting it about you or your child. Would it be funny and too good to pass up then?