Perception

Perception is a funny thing.

Perceptions-www-toothbrushtravels-com

If you’re new here you may have missed this post which I wrote back when it wasn’t minus ridiculous degrees.
If you don’t have time to read it, it was a personal post I wrote about being vulnerable, growing up and the emotions which accompany both and I honestly didn’t expect so many of you to read it, yet alone share your thoughts on it both here and over on Facebook. I suppose it’s because the part of me that’s still getting used to this confidence lark just assumed I’d spill my guts out into the blogosphere and people would run and hide because girl where dat usual positivity at? But it wasn’t until I published the aforementioned post and showed people a glimpse of the inner workings of my brain, that I realised how different the perceptions people had of me really were. Because I’m positive now people assumed that I’ve always been positive. Because I’m confident(ish) now people assumed I’ve always been confident and because I’m not afraid to speak out and stand up for myself/others now, people assumed that I must have always been that way, but the truth is that I am all of these things in spite of my past, not because of it, because growing up I was bullied.
Yeah I know,
“Loads of people get bullied.”
“It happens to everyone.”
“It builds character.”
“It’s just a bit of playground banter.”

But it’s not though is it?
It’s fucking cruel.

Bullying takes the person you thought you were and turns you into somebody who second guesses every little thing about themselves, and if you’re the one actually living through it, it’s all-consuming.
For each person who experiences bullying the severity, the “reason” and the people who are targeting you will vary. For some it’s a stranger, for others it could be a “friend”. For me it was two brothers who didn’t like me and rather than moving on with their lives as most people tend to do, they took it upon themselves to ensure that I knew they didn’t like me pretty much every damn day. There were a couple of occasions where the school and parents were involved and there was even a time where I defended myself in a crazy ball of chaotic tears, which earnt me a few months of silence but nothing ever really changed. I was the target and as a result the teenage years of my life were exhausting. To be honest I’m surprised my tear ducts still function because I cried and screamed and screamed and cried until my voice was hoarse and my eyes ran dry. I mean when people are spreading rumours about you, spitting on you, putting gum in your hair and trying to get everybody to beat you up because “it’s funny” it’s pretty damn hard not to feel that way. To be honest it’s pretty hard to feel any emotion outside of upset and anger, and boy was I angry.
I was angry at them for picking on me. I was angry at myself for having something “wrong” with me for them to treat me that way. I was angry that my parents couldn’t stop it. I was angry that I couldn’t stop it. I was angry at my “friends” for not sticking up for me. I was angry for being “weak” and for not being able to stand up for myself. I was consumed with a one-dimensional anger caused by helplessness. But the truth is (and this truth took me a while to learn): carrying around that much anger is pointless. It’s exhausting and, well, it doesn’t achieve anything – so (eventually) I learned to let it go.

I let go of the pain that was caused and I stopped talking about that part of my life altogether, because if you don’t mention something that means it never happened right?
Nope.
By sealing off a significant part of my life and pretending that it never happened I was denying myself the chance to have the compassion that I needed from others, the understanding that I’m not as confident as I seem and the limited (but growing) confidence which I do have comes from a place of sheer determination rather than unconditional feeling. Pretending a part of my life never happened just meant that I ended up denying myself the chance to form deeper connections where people got to know me better, not just on the surface but for who I really am and why, and in turn meant that I denied the opportunity for those going through something similar to see that it can get better and that despite how they feel, they’re not alone.
(You’re not, things can get better – please don’t be afraid to open up and ask for help).

Despite going off on a slight tangent, the point of my post today isn’t to dwell on the past. It’s to point out that the person I am today, tapping away on this ol’ keyboard isn’t who I’ve always been, as I’m sure is the case for many of you reading this. As humans we change, learn and grow from our experiences in life and who we become is shaped by those experiences. Hiding the past because it’s painful means that it will always remain just as painful. Not sharing something because it’s embarrassing means that the embarrassment will never go away, and not opening up due to fear of how people will react means that decent people never have a chance to show you they care, because they’ll never have the opportunity to get close enough to do so.

So I guess (slight tangent aside) what I’m trying to say is to be careful of perceptions, because there are people surrounding us whose stories are longer than the pages they’ve chosen to share.