Bullies and Butterflies

Voice Card  -  Volume 33  -  John Card Number 16  -  Tue, Nov 22, 1994 1:40 AM

This is a response to VC 33 Holly 16 ("Dating Daze")...

Dear Josh:

Like you, I was (and, I hope, still am) a kind soul who doesn't like to fight, and I got beat up more than once when I was your age.

Even then, I knew I was smarter than my tormentors, that in some sense I was "right" and they were "wrong," but this knowledge didn't do me much good. Trying to reason with them only made things worse. I tried to maintain a sense of dignity, but this was not always feasible. Sometimes you just can't win.

Now that I'm older I can see some things I couldn't see then. I now understand, for example, that the kids who beat me up were themselves beaten up many more times than I ever was, often by their own parents. I can also testify that, despite all the awkward and embarassing situations I had to endure, my life gradually got better and better and their lives gradually got worse and worse. That's not always true, by the way, so don't get smug about it, but it's often true and, though sad, is also a consolation.

The one piece of solid advice I have is never to give in to fear. Bullies are predators: they smell fear and once you cave in to them they will enslave you. So, if there's no easy escape, stand up to them, accept your pounding, and get it over with. After that they will (usually) leave you alone.

One thing I didn't do when I was young that I sometimes think I should have done is to learn how to fight. Not so I could get into more fights, or not even so I could have a better chance of coming out on top, but just to develop more of a sense of confidence. If you can find a gentle teacher, it might be something to look into. Fear is the enemy! Overcome your own fear and you will triumph.

As you are apparently already discovering, girls are a FAR more deadly threat than bullies. If you're anything like me you are much more afraid of making a total fool of yourself in front of someone you like than you are of getting pounded. But this is precisely where you must stand your ground!

Giving in to this kind of fear is where your greatest danger lies. For if you are afraid to be embarrassed, you will stop taking chances, and you will miss out on the sweetest things in life. Resign yourself to the fact that you will make mistakes and you will be embarrassed again and again. But learn to forgive yourself. And hold on: there are better days ahead!