Ok, so I am well into the book “The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee now, and I’m up to chapter 4. Reading this book is like having Jennifer in the room next to me and understanding exactly who I am. She gets me! Her writing is amazing. There are not many people in my life that get me. I probably would say there is only one actually, and I married him…my wonderful husband. Jennifer writes in such a way though that makes you go, “Hey! How did you know that’s what I’m like?”
The chapter that I am currently reading has really made me think back to when I was at school. Being a child growing up in school is supposed to be a happy time where we form friendships and we find out who we really are. There is so much pressure from other people though on what to wear, how to look, what to say, who to be friends with…the list is endless…that it is so hard growing up. I feel that what happens at school at this age and how you react to all of these pressures is what makes you in life.
I want to make people aware of this pressure, or bullying, as it is known as…whether it is at school, or in the work place, or elsewhere. Do you know why I want to make people aware? Because this affects you for the rest of your life on how you perceive things…and more importantly, how you perceive yourself. I am writing this from the viewpoint of someone who has been bullied, and is now going through a time in life where I am not comfortable with who I am. I am not writing this to seek attention. Well, I guess in a way I am, but not towards myself. I just think that there is not enough people out there that open up to these issues. And there are plenty of people I know that struggle with these very same issues. Self worth and acceptance.
It’s all about being loved and being accepted for who we are. It doesn’t matter what race we are, what sex we are, what jobs we have, (or what jobs our parents or partners have), how we manage our kids, what we are wearing (and how we wear it), what size we are, what grades we get…the list is endless. I believe a lot of our self worth stems from when we are children, growing up in school.
I look at my own children and listen to stories of their day at school. My eldest daughter is very sensitive and loves to have friends around her. Her friends are important to her. So, when she came home one day and said that her friend is no longer talking to her, and that she is always the one that is made to be ‘it’ when they are playing tag, she is devastated. I listen to her and try to comfort her that everything will be ok. I try to reassure her that she doesn’t need to look to her friends and be like them to be accepted. It’s hard though. She is only 7 and I feel helpless. The next day however, everything is back to normal as though nothing ever happened and she is quick to get over it. She is fortunate. She has lots of friends around her and she is not being bullied. I guess I am more scared of what she is going through because of what I went through myself.
I found growing up really hard. My parents had a job in the church where they had to move around a lot. Moving house would always take place in June, so it was either around my birthday, or there would be exams that I would be taking. It was close to the end of the academic year too, so I would be starting a new school when there was only 6 weeks left until the summer holidays. Starting a new school is not easy, but when everyone else has already had a chance to make friends and get settled, I had no chance. I was quickly made into the ideal target for others to fire names at. To start off with, the name calling didn’t really matter. But children are so persistent that eventually they hit the target. Name calling then turns into ‘accidentally’ knocking over, which then turns into threats of being beaten up after school. I was so scared some days to leave school and walk home, or even go out into the play ground at lunch time. I felt really alone at school, and looking back now I see that I didn’t have any true friends…you know, the friends that you can rely on to give you a hug when you needed one, or to make you laugh uncontrollably.
I wish that I had someone like Jennifer back than to say to me what I am reading now.
“You don’t find happiness by being the best version of someone else. You find happiness by being the best version of you”.
How revealing is this? It really opened up my eyes to a whole new concept. How many of us are going around in life thinking about that child back at school? How many of us look back and compare ourselves to our ‘friends’? How many of us look to what someone great is doing and wish that we could be more like them? I do!
Do you know what? There is only one of me! No one else can write the poems the way I write them…or arrange music the way I arrange it…or play my instrument the way that I play it. Hey! Go me with the compliment giving to myself! I still need to do a little more ‘soul searching’ though. I know that I am not fully there yet with the “hey-Lynne-you-are-fabulous” type feeling, but I am on the right way to getting there.