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Friday, March 23, 2012

It Gets Better (a.k.a. Thou Shall Not Bully)

After reading Amanda Hocking's most recent blog post, I got to thinking about bullying again.  Even with all her success, she still gets people criticizing her and picking apart everything she does.  Sometimes she gets terrible reviews of her books, with words that can sting an author and seem rather personal.

With success comes criticism.  The more success (and widely-known) a person becomes, the more critics they will gain.  Some people will say and do things that seem incredibly personal or harsh, but that doesn't mean they are personal.  In fact, more often than not, it is not personal at all.

Bullies are petty and misguided.  There are very few cases in which a bully picks on someone for the pure sake of being mean or making the other person feel down; most of the time, the reason a bully picks on someone is internal.  They may not have confidence in themselves, they may be jealous, or they may just be afraid, and they express their internal insecurities by bringing down someone else.

A lot of times when a person is successful, others start to tell them they're doing it wrong or that they shouldn't be doing what they're doing.  People will try to bring your dreams down, mostly because they're too scared or lack confidence to pursue their own.  They will get angry at themselves because they're not living their dreams, and misery loves company- if they can't have it, they don't want you to have it either, so they do what they can to discourage and bring you down.  Don't ever give up, though- go for your dreams.  Let the harsh criticisms go out the window, and don't do what you want to do just to spite them, do it to make yourself happy!

By no means am I saying we should sympathize with bullies.  Bullying is wrong, for any reason.  If you or anyone you know is being bullied, get help: there's tons of bullying hotlines out there.  If you are bullying someone, STOP!!  Bullying may sometimes seem like harmless fun, but it can lead to serious damages and even suicide- would you want to be responsible for someone's death?  NO!

I was bullied.  Twice in life, actually.  The first was in elementary school- I was bullied when I returned to school after months of cancer treatment.  Kids would pick on me, call me mean names, and say terrible things to me because I had no hair.  It changed me- I became very shy and insecure.  It took me a long time to reverse the affects, and sometimes I'm not so sure I'm completely over it.

I was also bullied as an adult, by another adult.  He would send me messages and tell me hurtful and harsh things because he didn't agree with my chosen professions.  The words he said to me over the course of two years cut me deep, and I've learned that it's best to just keep my distance from him now.  I think it's because he never had the opportunity to have his own dreams, he just always did what was expected of him, and here I am doing what I love and being successful at it.  Still, it pains me whenever I think of some of those things he's said to me.

When I write my memoir, I'm going to include the detailed version of my experience being bullied.  It's shaped me a lot, and I can't wait to share that part with others.

If you're being bullied, keep going.  Send me an email, I'd  love to talk to you.  And it's been said before, but I'll say it again- it gets better, I promise.

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