Although I’m a total introvert, I don’t think anyone would accuse me of not sticking up for myself – at times I’m the lone dissenter in a conversation, which makes me uncomfortable, but when I’m sure of my opinion I try not to back down.
However, this was not always the case. It’s taken me over 30 years to tell the bullies NO. When I say bully, I mean the dictionary definition, which is:
a person who is habitually cruel or overbearing
I hadn’t thought much about the bullies in my life until my friend Sarah Salter participated in an anti-bullying campaign. And then I saw Lady Gaga’s video message to one of her “little monsters” being bullied. So, here’s my history with bullies, and why I don’t listen to them anymore.
I know most kids have run-ins with bullies in their childhood, but as a fat kid in a poor family who grew up in rural farmland (hello poverty mindset), I think I had more than my fair share. I was teased about how I looked. I was teased about what my mom packed in my lunch (which was delicious, mom!). Hell, I was teased for the fact that I was smart and did all my homework in study sessions so I didn’t have to take a lot of books home.
A lot of times, I let them get to me.
End of the Story: Those kids were bored and in many cases jealous; their cruelty
was a result of having no positive role models in their life. I hold no grudges
against them – it’s a shame their parents didn’t try as hard as mine did
to be a good example.
Bullying doesn’t stop in childhood, unfortunately. I received a massive dose of bullying a few years ago when I moved to the UK and started working for an organization full of Type-A Bullies. The company’s CEO was a total Type-A bully and thus perpetuated a hiring spree of lots of Type-A bullies.
I saw people in tears at work. I saw people with severe (mental) health issues for the way they were treated at the office. I saw people building their towers, either ivory – to protect their fiefdoms – or of iron and steel, to protect them from all the hate.
I built my own steel tower. And then I got tired of the constant attacks. I finally said no more. I stopped listening to them.
End of the Story: I’m thankful for my experiences with those bullies, because they
helped teach me a lesson about the real risks in life. The risk of not being happy.
The risk of not enjoying your work. The risk of letting someone else hold power
over you. They pushed and I leapt, never looking back.
So, yes, I leapt and launched. And one would think that because you’re your own boss, you can avoid those pesky bullies. Not so. They’ll still find you. If you want to develop thick skin, become a writer and publish it online where you can invite comments. I guarantee you’ll see firsthand the presents offered by the anonymity of the Internet.
Do yourself a favour and don’t let those idiots bullies get to you. Delete comments that are just argumentative jerks, and save yourself for the people who want to have a genuine dialogue. You’ll also want to learn to spot trouble clients a mile away; just say no the minute you think somebody will be more trouble than they are worth, no matter how much you need the money. (This advice is also applicable to many types of relationships, friendships, and other kinds of -ships.)
Same goes for that social media vacuum (a.k.a. echochamber) that is created by those who perpetuate the Internet’s “musts.” You have to have a blog. You have to have a Facebook fan page. You have to be on Pinterest. You have to tweet between 8AM and 11AM Eastern standard. You have to be on Tumblr. You have to have an iPhone. You have to check-in on Foursquare. You have to stop reading magazines and get a Kindle. You have to participate in Twitter chats. You have to like mah status.
End of the Story: You don’t “have to” do shit. Do what makes you happy.
Do what works for you. Do whatever it takes.
Ignore anyone who thinks different.