On Bullies

I have been trying hard to work in my studio today, but I can’t focus my mind. I feel haunted. I can’t stop thinking about Amanda Todd, the teenaged girl from BC who committed suicide due to incessant bullying. 

I don’t understand bullies. I have to wonder if it is a malicious nature that causes certain people to thrust themselves negatively onto others. I personally like to give people the benefit of the doubt, which causes me to wonder if it is in fact a deep abiding insecurity that makes a bully. I’m sure there are many factors, none of them good, that add up to manifest themselves through bullying.

I have lost a close family member to suicide. He was my uncle, Stephen, an adult gay man who was harassed and bullied by other adults. I can’t say for sure that that was the reason he took his own life, but I’m sure it didn’t help his will to live. I also have friends and family members who have children who have experienced bullying in their schools. We know the damage it can do. There have been far too many news reports about teenagers opting to die because they feel that they simply can’t bear to live any longer in their current situation. There is always another way. Always. 

I certainly don’t think that existing under the microscope of social media networks is a healthy way to live for any teenager. Social media is like shooting fish in a barrel for angry people who want to take their own hurt and frustrations out on others. Always viewing the wonderful details of other people’s lives can make a person question the validity of their own life. What we project onto our social media pages is not a reflection of real life or of our true selves. We need to always keep this in mind. Tell your children, tell your pupils, tell your friends. If we feel fragile, it is time to step away from the computer. It is time to delve into some real living so we can experience a life outside the bubble and know that the lives we live via social media are not real. They are simply not real. 

Go outside. Walk to your local library pick up a book with a wonderful, epic story or a funny movie or some energizing music. There is something to be said for escapism. It has seen societies through depressions and wars. Join a class outside the realms of your peer group - painting, cooking, martial arts, dancing - it doesn’t matter. Anything that interests you and that will occupy your mind, help you express yourself and ultimately build confidence. Volunteer. No matter where you live there is always going to be a person or place who can use a hand: serve up food or help cook in a soup kitchen, read to children or tutor English as a second language at your local library, play cards or board games with seniors at an old age home, walk dogs and play with cats at your local animal shelter. No matter what you choose to do, if you step outside your unhappiness you will find reasons to live. They are all around you.

Don’t lose yourself in your sorrow. Your situation can turn around in time. It will turn around with time. Give yourself time. 

If you have something nasty, rude or patronizing to say bite your tongue. Think about the way your words and your actions can affect other people. Think about why you want to lash out and hurt. One of my favourite sayings is don’t judge a book by its cover. I try to keep that in mind every single day in my personal life as well as my business life. To me, these are words to live by. 

Finally, always remember that the concept of “cool” is not real. It’s an abstract notion that only exists if you let it. Don’t be ashamed of who you are. We all make mistakes, and we can learn from them, in time.