I have a hard time looking back wistfully at my childhood.
You see, I was one of “those” kids.
I was one of the ones who grew up looking over their shoulders, waiting for the bully to show up.
I was the kid who couldn’t manage to play any sport without screwing things up for my team.
I was the kid who always got picked last.
When I did get chosen, the other kids would groan when they knew I was going to be on their team.
I was the easy out.
I was the nerd.
I was the geek.
If I could possibly do or say something wrong, I did it.
My most vivid sports memory from junior high was when we did a relay race in gym class. I wasn’t good at any sports, but I could run fast. And by some miracle I ended up in the anchor position for my team.
When I was tagged, I took off as fast as I could. The guy I was running against was fast, too, but I had an edge on him.
As we both tore across the high school parking lot — we didn’t have a track — I pulled ahead of him. For the first time in my life, I was going to win the race. I can remember the thrill of knowing that for once, I wasn’t going to be the goat.
My thrill was short-lived.
Somehow, my feet got tangled and I went sprawling forward on the asphalt. I tumbled and cut up my knee and my shoulder, but I didn’t care about the physical pain.
What really hurt was the humiliation.
The knowledge that behind my back, all my peers were rolling their eyes and saying, “Pence did it again.”
It will probably come as no surprise to you that Charlie Brown was my favorite comic character.
Charlie Brown, who couldn’t fly a kite, couldn’t win a baseball game, couldn’t kick a football, and who was always called a “blockhead.”
Charlie and I were soul mates.
In case you didn’t know it, October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.
I grew up long before people really knew or cared about the issue of bullying. I grew up in a time where the best you could do was just keep your head down and try to survive.
Now people are beginning to stand up to the bullies.
And I for one applaud them.
For the rest of this month (except for next week, when I’ll be doing a book review), I’m going to be blogging about bullying. I’ll talk about what I’ve experienced, what others have experienced, what I’ve learned, and about how being bullied changed me—both positively and negatively.
If you know someone who is being bullied, I hope you’ll read these posts and share them. If you are being or have been bullied, I encourage you to share your story here.
We’ll never stop bullying entirely. To do that we’d have to change human nature.
But maybe at least we can shine enough light on it to make some rethink their actions.
And maybe we can help those kids who are being bullied understand that they don’t stand alone.