Cooler Than Me

January 9, 2012

When I was a kid, I was one of those kids who was teased sometimes.  I was a little weird.  I had lots of friends, but some of them were mean at times, and I was made fun of for my last name (which for those of you who don’t already know me, is the same last name as a 1980s horror movie character) biting my cuticles, and for some forehead zits in the 4th grade (Oxy 10 was my nickname for a month or so).  A little later on, in middle school, I decided I was a hippie.  I wore outrageous things to school, went “incognito” with my friends in public, dressed as wildly tie-dyed as I could and accessorized with anything having to do with sunflowers, Grateful Dead patches and peace signs and topped off my ensemble with a pair of blue John Lennon-style sunglasses.  By the end of 8th grade, I had become a little more “Mod” than hippie and went to my awards assembly in knee high leather boots, too many rings and an orange floral print polyester dress that zipped up the front and came down to mid-thigh.  Some girl yelled out “F&%$in’ hippie!” as I walked on stage to accept some award and it ruined my day.  I wanted to be an individual without having anyone make fun of me for it, but luckily that incident didn’t slow me down.  My first day of high school, I wore neon green bell bottoms.  I remained an individual, and never really cared what anyone thought, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t bothered when this one table full of “cool” girls would make nasty comments as I walked past them in the lunchroom.

Something I’ve realized since then, is that more often than not, the mean “cool” people in grade school end up being the ones we don’t envy later on. I think anyone who’s reading this will agree with me, as we are probably all adults.  What’s too bad, is that no amount of times we tell that information to a kid who’s bullied at school, they probably won’t believe it.  They won’t be able to see that future in which they won’t be judged or ridiculed.  Enjoy this video of an ex-nerd that my cousin suggested I watch, and share!

Recently, a friend of mine told me that his nephew who is 14 just came out of the closet.  He was so excited about it that he wanted to tell everyone and he wrote a post on facebook about his “new” identity.  The only issue, is that he lives in Florida, and in a community where that information might be detrimental to his well-being if the wrong kids had some bad ideas.  This kid’s father, who is very supportive, told him that he might want to keep that information a little quieter until he goes to college (somewhere else).  That is so sad, but it’s probably good advice.  It’s sad that in some instances, being yourself is dangerous.  That individuals can’t actually be who they are for fear of not only being teased, as I was at times, but violently bullied and harassed when they are too young to know that things will get better once they leave their small-minded communities.

I was listening to the radio today, and Pink’s “Perfect” came on (I am aware that there is an expletive in the “real” title).  I remembered a couple of songs that have helped me (and maybe others) and provided some comfort during tough emotional times.  These are also songs that I have used in my work (psych setting) in sessions about self-esteem.

“For You” by The Barenaked Ladies.  The song is about hiding who you are for someone else’s benefit.

“Perfect” by Alanis Morissette.  This one is narrated by parents or authorities who have too-high expectations of a young person.

There are so many more than those two, but they were the ones that came to me out of the blue.  Some popular songs about boosting self-esteem that I keep hearing on Magic 106.7 are: Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Pink’s “Perfect,” Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper, and “Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” among others.

I can’t say much else, except that I’m noticing a trend.  In recent years, there has been a lot more bullying than I ever remember there being when I was a kid, and I have to imagine it’s because of the whole social media forum.  As we have all been hearing for the past two years (?) mean kids say hurtful things to their peers online in a very public and humiliating way which has caused some really horrible tragedies.  The problem is that there have always been mean kids.  They used to say mean things to your face, and maybe only a few people knew what they were saying, but now it seems like it’s so much worse, because online there haven’t been repercussions, until recently.  I know we have to talk (and sing) to the victims and let them know that they won’t always be teased, but what about the mean kids?  Are there any songs you can think of that reprimand the bullies?  Would they affect change?  How early does the seed of a good moral code need to be planted in order to make a difference?

The answers, my friend, are perpetually blowin’ in the wind.  Where there’s peace, there’s also chaos.  Where there’s good, there’s bad.  Yin and Yang, yada yada.  The way of our world means that we may never eradicate bullying, but we can ALWAYS console the wounded with words and song.