This post is a continuation of the previous installment of the Life Trap series, “Bullying Begins”. In this second part, I will be talking about bullying during my adult life, both in the schooling system and work environment. I will also dare look into the bullies within the familiar circles, as the pandemic of meanery hardly only reaches us when we step out of our homes into the cruel world. More often than not it follows us home.
After I had dropped out of college/high school and drifted around for a while, I decided to go back to learning – this time it was vocational, and the path I chose was that of a waitress. One thing you must understand is that where I come from, almost nobody was actually going there because of their passion for food and fine dining. The angsty teens were there because they couldn’t get into beauty or whatever else they had put as their first option.
This put me in a very difficult position, and my age made it even harder. Most of the students in my class were 16 and up, while I was a budding young adult of over 20. In the period of alienation and having the mental maturity difference, my best pal became the other odd-ball of the class, a middle-aged man with leg issues so bad that he could barely walk a block without wincing, who had been assigned to the class in the name of employment.
My piers being cold to me was one thing in on itself, but what shocked me the most was the absolutely appalling behavior of the teachers and directors.
One day I was waiting for my English class to start, as my friend walked out of hers. We chatted a bit and she went on to her next lesson, none the wiser about what would transpire just moments after she left. Another teacher headed into the emptied room, and a bit of chatter followed. What got me out of my seat and to face them was the fact that I heard them shit post on the students, pondering about how they are just so bad and lazy, not even trying. I knew for a fact that my friend tried her best to the end, and so, I had to confront them. As you can probably guess, nothing happened other than two astounded teachers staring down at me.
Another time I had built up the courage to go talk to the director of my chosen wing of the vocational school and got nothing but coldness in turn. I cried as I sat there, explaining how difficult it was to be shunned in my class by literally everyone. The answer I got shocked me to the core – the head of the department pretty much told me that it was my issue, that I was weird and unsociable. Why? Because I enjoyed reading and writing in my own peace during breaks. The message I got was that it was my fault I got shunned, despite the fact that my class consisted of people who managed to get one of the best teachers to have a mental breakdown with their venom. The director also told me to get my priorities straight, as if my wanting to write was the problem, since clearly, I didn’t want to be there learning, which I actually did, and which proved by being an attentive, well-performing student.
To top my sorry career off, when I got out of school and into work life, I managed to see the terrible conditions people have to deal with before my break from the corporate world.
Unfortunately, it is very common (at least in the restaurant business) to have mean, tough-as-nails people as your colleagues. This manifests in sneering and chucking the low-cast jobs to the newcomer. You see, more often than not, an establishment has its own set community. And being the new kid on the block makes you an outcast. And outcasts are to be treated coldly and with utmost suspicion, especially if they are lower in rank/experience than you. Especially if you are a lowly food runner in the realm of fine-dining waitresses.
As I was looking for more opportunities to take on jobs, I came across a wanted ad for a local Chinese restaurant. I was almost convinced since I liked the place, but that came to an end one day when I went to have dinner and the landlord of the main street of our little village came in. He barged in, stormed into the kitchen (where he had no business being anyway), and shout-screamed at the people working on my food. No regard for the customers, or for the restaurant’s staff. I did not send out an application that day.
Bringing it home
We are bullied at kindergarten and school. We are bullied at higher educational institutions, and then at work, never mind by our colleagues but also by random people barging in. The customers that want to be right spout abuse at us servants and our boss can’t help but chew us out for poor performance, even if it is their bad leadership that brings the company down. And we go home, our sanctuary, a place of safety and peace except… sometimes the hell continues.
I’ve faced prejudice regarding sexualities and people’s ethnicities, discouragement, and threat in my home. I’ve been verbally abused by family members for supporting causes that matter to me, as well as threatened with things like admission to the mental ward because of marrying a man I love. I’ve stood up to racism and homophobia, and been estranged while I was at it. And the discouragement… Well, my writer companions, it often comes in the form of ‘’It’s a fine hobby, but get a real job’’.
I’ve dated people that were bad, like, ‘’I’ll manipulate you into a world of delusion and use you for my benefit, all the while lying to you with every breath I take’’- bad. People whose image means more to them than their partner, and so they told me to not be me. To be on my best behavior. People whose families did not accept me, and instead thought me rude, inconsiderate. One of my life’s highlights was to own up to who I was, and when I was asked if I had fallen or something (a remark made about my abused shoulder) I looked them straight in the eye and said: ‘’No, I did that to myself.” It was a freeing experience to finally be honest about my mental health, shed the mask for even a moment by my own volition. And the look on the person’s face made it even sweeter.
Life is complete and utter Bullshit
People will come at you, and most of the time you will not be getting a reason why. Some people are just that toxic, and try to compensate their own unhappiness by bringing you down with them. At least that’s how I see it. And all we can do is to keep rejecting these kinds of people from our circles and hope that the next one we befriend would be a decent person.
I also have to be honest. I think I may have misled you with my post about childhood bullying. See, while it is true I never bullied people when I was young, I’ve since turned into one of those monsters. With my borderline, I developed a side of me that I detest, and don’t want to speak of – the bully in me. I have a side that is jealous, bitter, angry, and most of all, manipulative and hurtful. But that will all change with time, as I re-learn how to be human.
We need to own up to our own shittiness, without excuses and trying to weasel out of it. Yes, my life could’ve gone better. Yes, people have been absolute dirtbags. Yes, I’ve had my little share of abuse, physical and psychological both. But guess what? I get to decide how I act. Actually, it is completely, absolutely, and without a doubt in my hands and my responsibility to fix these hurtful patterns in my life.
My past is not who I am.