I have been thinking about this post for over a week and I have had a hard time deciding what to write about. So far I have felt like I needed to post what I have when I have. This week nothing has seemed right until this morning.
I was on Facebook and several friends had posted a video from the Mormon Channel about bullying. It is based on a talk by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BTW, He is another one of my favorite speakers.
As I watched it brought tears to my eyes. It also brought back memories of the endless teasing and being made fun of that I went through most of my school years. I was a sensitive child and was easily brought to tears. I was also, and still am, very self-judging about my efforts in school and other activities. I am a perfectionist. Whenever I felt like I had failed at something I would cry. I gained the nickname of bawl-baby.
I have always struggled with feeling like I fit in. When kids started calling me names I began to believe that I was what they called me, i.e, fat, ugly, a bawl-baby, stupid, just to name a few. I struggled with my school subjects and so I felt stupid. I didn't wear the latest fashions in clothes or hair. I have buck/crooked/discolored teeth. In fourth grade I started wearing glasses. I felt ugly.
I didn't feel like I fit in. I was shy and had a hard time making friends. I was never popular. Even in my own family I felt like an outsider most of the time. Don't get me wrong, I love my family very much. As an adult I realize that my siblings all had their own struggles as well. As a child it was hard to see beyond my own little world.
By the time I was in first grade I hated school. That is when most of the teasing started. I hated being put on the spot and when the teacher would call on me to answer a question my mind would go blank and then I felt stupid and of course the kids called me stupid because they probably thought I didn't know the answer. It got to a point where I would try to slouch down in my seat and hope I wouldn't get called on for any reason. I didn't want to be acknowledged even if it was for something good. I would start thinking about how I felt when I was wrong and when the kids made fun of me and I would start to cry. It probably appeared that I was crying for no reason and so kids would give me a bad time about that.
In second grade, my teacher picked on me a lot. I felt like she belittled me as much as the other students in my class did. I felt like a huge failure in everything I did.I had teachers who tried to help but I had begun to not trust anyone. Looking back I can see the good intentions of most of my teachers and even some of the other kids, but in my mind I was never good enough at anything I did.
I started to get sick a lot. I know now that it was because of the depression and anxiety, but then I just knew that I never felt good. I started to miss a lot of school. I could literally make myself sick by worrying about what the kids would say or do. The bullying never really got physical, but I think words can sometimes be more damaging than anything physical. When I was in the hospital a little over a year ago, one of the social workers kept telling us that words can never hurt you. They are just words and they only hurt because you let them. This made a lot of us upset. Many of us had been made fun of, emotionally abused, or in other ways belittled. It was hard to hear that the only reason it hurt was our own fault. As a child I didn't feel like it was my fault that those words hurt. I did feel like it was my fault that people said those words.
As an adult I have learned that a lot of the things kids do during childhood is related to their own self-worth. Not to say that gives them an excuse, but it is understandable. If only we could realize as kids that what we do and say affects others and can cause permanent damage. I look back and think of how I could have done and handled things differently, but there is nothing I can do now. The past is in the past.
I'm not sure if I have written anything that is helpful. It has brought up a lot of emotions as I recalled those things I went through. I hope that I can help others that are going through similar things. As a teacher I hope I can help those young children to realize that they are special, that they have worth. If we can instill a love of others in them while they are young hopefully they will share that love and end bullying as we know it.
In the original conference talk given by Pres. Uchtdorf that the below video comes from, he says,"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:
It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”"
May we all remember these words even as adults. Bullying doesn't end just because we grow up. If you are being judgmental of anyone for any reason; Stop it!