Bullies are unhappy, insecure, jealousPublished 10:27am Monday, June 11, 2012
Column: Something About Nothing
I turned 62 recently. I thought that turning 62 made me an official senior citizen, though some groups and establishments will accept you as a senior citizen when you are 55. However, when I Googled it, I found that to be an official senior citizen I must reach the age of 65.
I think I was mistaken in my assumption about the age you become a senior citizen because at age 62 you can take early retirement if you can swing it with your bank account. Even though I turned 62, I won’t be swinging any time soon.
I am not bummed about being 62. I am grateful to be alive and to be excited about my life. I am grateful to have the friends and family that I have in my life. I am grateful to have learned lessons in my youth and have had the experiences in my life that have made me who I am today at the age of 62.
I wish there was some way we magically could pass what we know now down to the kids who are struggling in their grade school and high school years. We struggled, too, with insecurity, cruel classmates and problems that we thought would never be better.
My struggles were from a different era. We didn’t have the social media to contend with, which makes it worse for those teenagers today. I would guess that some of the feelings we experienced are a shadow of what teens have to deal with today.
Becoming an adult doesn’t mean that we don’t encounter bullying or have insecurities or let others’ comments break us. There is a growth that comes with aging knowing that we have to go through struggles to get to the other side. Throughout the years there are times we have thought we couldn’t go on and then we see that we made it through some tough times and survived. We may have had to reach out for help to get through those times, but they make us who we are today. As adults we have more years and wisdom to help us with cruel people.
Recently I read an article that stated that adults are setting a terrible example for our kids because of their behavior and their adult bullying tactics. We as adults need to address our own behavior.
That article brought to mind a letter that I received in 2007 shortly after starting to write this column. I kept the letter. I kept it not because it upset me, but to remind me to never use words or letters to try and hurt another person even when I am in pain. In the heat of the moment that is not always easy to follow.
The letter said this: “Why do you have to wear those big sunglasses and hat? Is it because you are so homely? I remember you as a homely little brat in your father’s shoe store. You were about the ugliest kid I ever saw and such a brat. Don’t try to cover your face with those glasses. It only makes us think about you as a child. Your articles aren’t that interesting as well. ‘Be yourself’ and tell the truth. You never had any friends while growing up, and I doubt if you have any now.”
It was signed: “A person who remembers.”
It is fortunate that I also remembered my life, and I remembered it differently than the letter writer. That is probably because I lived it. I may have been devastated by that letter in my youth.
I looked at that letter and, yes, I was a spoiled child. I knew that. I knew the friends I had, and I knew the friends I had now. The thought that jumped out at me was that the person writing this letter had to be a very unhappy person, for they felt they had to try to hurt someone else. I don’t know who wrote that letter. If it was someone I hurt in the past, I am very sorry.
I could only have this perspective because of my aging years, and the perspective it brings. Yes, adults bully. I have to think bullying comes out of insecurity and jealousy. I wish we could magically give teenagers that perspective and as adults give those teenagers the feeling that it is OK to be who they are in the midst of the pack. I wish they magically came with the experience inside of themselves to know how to handle the bullying. I wish they trusted us as adults enough to reach out to us and allow us to help them.
Perhaps what they are seeing in us and the way we as adults bully others doesn’t inspire confidence that they can come to us to help them. Perhaps this article was right, and until we as adults change our tactics and mirror compassion and understanding for others than bullying will never get better.
Yes, I am almost a senior citizen. Unfortunately, my mind has not caught up with my age. The clothes I love are jeans and younger-looking tops. I am not trying to dress younger; I just like the cute young fashions. I can handle being my age but don’t bully me about my clothes, my earrings, my hairstyle or my hula-hooping. I can hula-hoop yet with the best of them.
Don’t bully me and send the “What Not To Wear” show after me. I am past caring if I don’t dress right, act demure and become who everyone thinks I should be. When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple.
Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.