Growing up in a childhood that was divided between Dubai and Kannur, I was never introduced to the concept of bullying. Though I had a dunce-like personality that any bully would usually covet, I had great friends around me and no shortage of love.
I had even lesser encounters with bullies during my days as a medical student when I think about it. If anything, the closest to anything like ragging I encountered in those days involved me voluntarily walking into a train compartment filled with dental seniors and singing so badly that they squealed in agony begging me to stop (In hindsight, perhaps I was bullying them that night. Hmmm... I guess, I owe them an apology.)
No, my bullies did not arise until I had grown up.
The bullies I met were a lot different than any variety I had ever encountered or imagined. Where childhood bullies blended into a crowd with their school uniforms and water bottles, these people used religion and wealth. Physical punches of childhood were replaced by mental torture and deception. The weapons were different but the concept was the same - to make you feel inferior to them. To derive pleasure from your sorrow. To hurt you mentally.
What do you teach a child when he is being bullied? Some teach you to turn the other cheek. Others advocating standing up to them and calling them out on it, forcing them to confront their own personalities. There are even those who advocate fighting back, giving as good as you get.
I did all of that. And I can tell you that it did nothing for me. Unlike the moral science lessons we grew up with in school, very rarely do bullies get an epiphany and actually change in real life, much less when they are grown up. Challenging them at their own game was a venture in futility; a bully targets someone smaller than him precisely because he feels he can take him on and win.
So what lessons did I learn that I have to offer to those who are bullied? Quite a few, as a matter of fact.
|Image source: here|
1. Know that bullies will always exist. There is no age limit for being a bully. You and I picture bullies as chubby fat kids wearing school shorts and smirks. No. Bullies can be anyone from seniors at college and work to the very politicians and policemen we turn to for help. They can be relatives you trusted and strangers who just see you as an easy target because of a difference of caste, culture or religious orientation.
2. Do not fight fire with fire. Bullies are looking for exactly that. They want to prove that you are just like them, only lesser.
3. Do not lose sight of who you are. A bully may choose you because you are different from him - shorter, a different race, a different skin colour, bad at sports or good in studies - the reasons are innumerable. They are also irrelevant. Being different does not make you inferior to anyone. Being a jerk, on the other hand, definitely does.
4. Know who you are and accept it. Do not let the scathing comments of someone who has a beef with you get lodged in your head and eat you from within.