When I was in Jr. High there was a girl in my class named Shelly*. She came to our school in the middle of the school year and for whatever reason, some of the other girls in my class decided to make an example of her. And so they mercilessly teased her about her clothes, her hair, her intelligence… anything they could find that even resembled promise or ingenuity. Shelly was normal, if anyone in middle school is normal. She was smart… and strong. With every snicker, sneer and whisper she held her head high and went about her business seemingly unscathed.
My middle school existence was…. well, almost non-existent. I didn’t really have a group of friends I hung out with at school. I just hung out with everyone, or no one. I never went to anyone’s house, didn’t really socialize or get involved in anyone’s life. And I don’t say that to sound pitiful or sad. I was more interested in sports and books. And my center of influence was my church youth group. I did what was expected of me and minded my own business. I noticed some of the other girls picking on her but never interfered or thought much about it… it was none of my business. They left me alone, and I left them alone.
It was really out of pure curiosity that one day I approached her and started a conversation. It never occurred to me that I might be mocked along with her. It’s not like I had a reputation to protect. In all honesty, my intention was to find out what was wrong with her and why people felt like they had to ridicule her. I wasn’t trying to be heroic nor did I feel sorry for her. I was simply curious. So one day we had a conversation, then the next day we had another one. It was a small school so after the third conversation we would say hello to each other in the hallway between classes and sit with each other at lunch. It was the natural progression of things. After about a week, one of the other girls (who had never said 2 words to me all year) asked me why I was hanging out with her. My reply, “Because she is nice”, knocked her socks off. Who knew?
I tell this story because in the wake of all the anti-bullying campaigns and the death of Amanda Todd and other victims of bullying, I wonder what would happen if only one person made the effort to start a conversation? Just one person, just one conversation. I don’t ask this based on any kind of self-righteousness. Remember, my motivation was based purely on curiosity, not heroics. The story doesn’t end with us becoming fast friends like an after-school special. I met Shelly many years later at our hometown mall. Her picture was on a kiosk. She was in a sophisticated suit with eyes shining, pride oozing out of every pore in her body. She had become an attorney. I stood in front of that kiosk for what seemed like an eternity and all I could think is, “You GO girl!’. She got the last laugh.
*Obviously, this is not her real name.
Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. That doesn’t mean you failed. It means you learned one thing that won’t work at this moment. Not forever.
Not everyone has my best interests in mind. But I can choose to have others’ best interests in mind anyway.
Life is about perspectives. People don’t always (in fact, rarely) share mine. But it’s well worth the effort to at least try to understand theirs.
Even wallflowers can thrive in a hostile environment.
I can never have too many friends. But I can have a lot of the wrong ones.
Teenagers aren’t really as bad as people say they are. Neither are toddlers. It’s really all about respecting their individuality and recognizing the difference between defiance and self-expression.
Keeping score always leads to someone losing. Life is not a play-off game. It’s a constant state of training and practice.
Sometimes it’s better to be kind than right. Knowing when to stand by your convictions and bend with the wind is one of the most important lessons to learn.
I took my dog to Hanging Rock State Park and hiked the 1.3 miles from the information center to Hanging Rock proper. Anyone who has done that has a much better understanding for courage and perseverance under fire. That’s not an easy walk. Especially if your legs are 4 inches long. Such was the case with the little yorkie poo I had with me. He was quite a trooper though! I only had to carry him a few times.
When we reached the top I sat several feet away from the edge. I don’t have a fear of heights, but I do respect them appropriately. Poly promptly sat at the very edge of cliff. I was amazed. What would possess him to do that? Was he not aware of the danger? Did he have any idea how much danger he was in? After all, it was kind of windy, he weighs less than 10 lbs. A strong wind could have blown him right off the mountain (granted, he had a leash on, but still!)! Then I realized that he probably did it because he COULD. Nobody told him he couldn’t. Nobody suggested that it wasn’t safe. He had no reason to believe that he was in danger. He just did. Because he could. And so he did. And I’m sure the view he had looking straight down the cliff was probably more exhilarating than mine. He took the risk, and got the better reward. And all because nobody told him he couldn’t.
So, I’ve started this wonder of the world called ‘blogging’. From what I understand, it’s like a window into a person’s head. Most days, my head is a very scary place with the occasional scattering of bugs when the lights go on. But sometimes it’s sharp, witty and brilliant. My hope is that I will blog on days that I have more of the later and not the former. This is a new beginning for me.
Beginnings. Transitions. Opportunities. Call them what you want but they all have a ‘gasp’ factor. That point at which you scream internally ‘What have I done??!!’. I’m a perfectionist, a planner, an organizer. I don’t get caught off guard very often mostly because I’m always ON guard. I walk out of Wal-Mart almost expecting to be kidnapped. I scan parking lots and know where everyone is. I am constantly considering a plan ‘in case that happens’. This is excellent if I work for you or with you. It’s a nightmare if you try to actually understand my thought processes and how life makes sense (or more often, how it doesn’t make sense).
There are several purposes to beginning this blog. First, I see, experience and read a lot of things that I have thoughts about and the only way to get them out of my head is to feed them through my fingertips. Second, I’m not the only person with a scary brain. There are more of me, I promise. They live not necessarily hidden (but not obvious) among the general population. If you don’t understand what I mean, then you aren’t one of them. But if you understood, then you are not alone. And lastly, I’ve been told that blogging is a stress reliever. Not that I’m necessarily feeling overwhelmed, but who doesn’t need less stress… really??