I was smaller than most. I was weak too, or at least weaker than most with a small boyish, baby-like face. I appeared much younger than the others my age. I was not athletic or spectacular in any way that would make me stand out in the crowd. I was uncomfortable at best and eager to be liked.
I wanted to fit and feel comfortable in my surroundings. I wanted to say the right things and be the right person but for some reason, everything about me seemed mismatched or unfitting. My words never came out right and instead, they repeated in my mind like a haunting and undying echo and I would try to say something to correct this but the words that would follow only came out worse than the original things I had already said.
I tried though. I did. But the problem with trying to fit in is the same as trying to push a square peg through a round hole. The trouble with this is not only is the square peg unfitting, but the inaccuracies of the square shape become more obvious the harder we try to push the square peg through the round hole. And this was me, trying to fit in, and this was me, trying to round the edges of my square sides just so I could feel like I belonged with the end result of my sides feeling raw to the touch. Everything felt raw to me. Raw and uncomfortable
I was shaggy headed and extraordinarily thin. I had no sense of style. I was slovenly and unkempt, uncomfortable, and unsure how to physically keep myself. I ate poorly. I organized poorly. Everything about me from the way I dressed to the way I handled my classwork at school, to the condition of my locker, and to the condition of my so-called friendships was a reflection of my disheveled self.
Internally, I felt as though something about me was missing. I was an easy target for bullies. This is not just because I was smaller than most or weaker or awkward and uncoordinated. No, I was an easy target because I was I literally internalized every insult and poke at my sides.
In my attempt to fit in or coincide with the others and “Be cool,” so-to-speak, I submitted myself to be vulnerable and gullible and allowed for the pain because deep down, I just wanted to be liked and maybe, just maybe, if I took the insults and took the pokes at my side, maybe I would be invited in somehow and accepted.
However, I go back to the obvious difference and the blatant misfitting shaped of a square peg through a round hole.
I wanted to find my international fit, which would allow me to fit in with any crowd at any table in any school. More accurately, I became a chameleon. I tried to change my colors to suit my surroundings. I lied to make friends. I submitted myself to be used, which again, left me with a large target.
No one asks to be picked on. No one asks to feel this way, as if they are unimportant and unremarkable. No one wants to be picked last for teams. No one wants to be the odd man out or to be, “That kid,” that everyone knows about and everyone picks on.
I remember some of the challenged students in my school. Most of all, I remember Douglas. He was born different. I was too young to know what muscular dystrophy was. I was too young to understand that Doug’s muscles would progressively weaken and eventually lead him to a wheelchair. He was born with this disadvantage, but yet, I always admired Doug.
He was always included by the other classmates regardless to his ability. I remember him as a blue-eyed like silvery pools. I always wished I was blue-eyed like silvery pools. He had olive skin, if I’m not mistaken and I say it this way because this memory of mine is old and from grade school. Doug was blonde-headed. I suppose if his disease went the other way and strengthened Douglas instead of weakening him. He might have grown up to be one of the desirable ones. He might have become a lifeguard or something like this because had muscular dystrophy not been the issue, I suppose this is what Doug would have looked like.
I always wondered if he would have wished to switch places with me, a kid that believed I was less than and saw myself as unwanted and unremarkable. To Doug, I suppose everything was a physical challenge.
I had my own physical challenges. I was short and weak. I was small and baby-like. As I saw it Doug was charismatic and me, as I saw it, I had the charisma of unwanted guest that refused to leave or stop talking.
In fairness and in all honesty, I doubt Doug even knew who I was. But everyone knew Douglas —and even if people were only nice to him because he was challenged, at least people were nice to him; whereas me, I always felt like I had to struggle for attention, which again, in trying so hard to fit, all I did was exploit all of my obviously misfitting defects.
For the bullied, yes, I believe we are over thinkers. At least, I was. I internalized everything as a personal threat. I held onto what others laughed off. I saw myself as shameful.
I was never ugly but I was never notably one of the better looking kids in school. I was average at best and since I was so painfully small (as I saw it) all I could be is averaged as cute. And the cute kid only gets so far. The cute kid gets an “Aww, he’s cute,” every so often but to be wanted and to be desired, in my eyes, I needed to be bigger and I needed to be stronger.
I needed to be charismatic and I needed to be athletic and physically tough. I wanted to be beautiful. I wanted to be wanted. I wanted be accepted and invited instead of being intrusive because I always tried to include myself.
Yes, I was picked on. Yes, I found myself on the poor end of social arguments. I never had a steady group of friends; however, this had more to do with me than I understood.
When you see yourself as awkward and flawed, you assume everyone else sees you this way too. When you expect to be picked on, you assume everything said to you is either an insult or some condescending statement which puts you down.
I openly admit my discomforts which I still have. Since this was my younger, early platform, I see how these things tie into my character defects. I have a huge fear of public humiliation because yes, I was publicly humiliated when I was a kid. I have a problem with people pleasing. I have an undying need to “Feel” accepted and wanted.
One of the reasons why I change my topics when I write is because I don’t want to adhere to one topic specifically just because someone “Liked” it. Otherwise, I will be on the chase to feel liked or accepted.
One of the internal problems I had with my bullying is the self-perpetuating struggle, in which I face to this day. What I mean is when I felt less than, my behaviors slipped. I assumed the worst and because I assumed the worst, eventually, the worst happened because my behavior coincided with my feelings, which led me towards the self-fulfilled prophecy that eventually came true.
I never had a sense of self. This would have defended me better in my bullying than a strong fist or a good right hook. Admittedly though, a good punch does have a way of settling bullying disputes.
I never understood how to place my emotional investments. I never connected my exterior looks and behavior to my internal feelings. I just knew I felt badly about myself, to which eventually, I began to hate myself. In fact I hated everything about me. I admired those who had less than me because although they had less, I always wondered how they were accepted and yet, me with my benefits, I couldn’t find myself comfortable in a roomful of anyone.
Bullies are relentless. I know this. But they are second to the relentless thought process which is unending to the insecure and weaker. All I did was think and contemplate. All I did was feel. All I did was wish I was someone else or anyone else and maybe then, maybe if I was blonde-haired or blue-eyed, or maybe if I was taller or better looking, maybe then I could fit.
If I were only taught about self-acceptance and understanding, I think my childhood would have been much easier to live through.
I remember a night that nearly turned fatal for me. I was eight at the time and thought there was no point to my existence. I swallowed a large amount of pills, said goodnight to everyone in my house, which really meant goodbye, and then I resigned to my bedroom with the idea that I would fall asleep and never wake up again.
Obviously, this was not the case. Instead, I vomited for a long time and found myself back in the hospital emergency room. I say back to the hospital because I had just come from their after spending two weeks in a room with an I.V. bag plugged to my arm because I was sick with gastroenteritis.
Sometimes I wish I could talk to that little me back then. I wish I could strengthen him. I wish I could go back and tell him the truth about who he is and tell him how unimportant other people’s thoughts or opinions are.
I wish I could tell him don’t volunteer to be the victim. Don’t offer to wear the target and yes, if I could, I would go back to the little me above all and tell him to be sure and say hello to Douglas. I would say talk to Doug because of all people I have seen in my life; I have never seen anyone as remarkable as him.