I have been doing a lot more writing, outside of this blog, lately. I wrote this, not sure where it's going to go yet, but I thought I would share it with you. I rewatched the documentary, Bully, the other day. I feel like there need to be more discussions around how we treat people, each other. We live in a world today that is surprised by people being kind and that's such a shame. Like many of you who read this, I was tortured in middle and high school by my peers and even my guidance counselor. Thank the sweet Lord above I lived in a time that predated the internet and text messaging. I don’t know if I could live through my teen years now. You are stronger than me.
Without these experiences, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. While the words crushed me, crippled my self-esteem, and amplified my feeling of worthlessness; the words gave me this sense that I would be trying to prove people like this wrong for the rest of my life.
I’ve written this about five times. I totally wanted to put these people on blast, but that’s being worse than the people they were twenty years ago. I stalked all their social media, found photos, I was armed and ready. And 12-18 year old Amos would have high-fived 33 year old me.
There’s nothing I can say to you to make the situation you’re in right now better. These people are mean and the words hurt. The wounds they cause take forever to heal. To this day, I cannot wear regular pajama pants because a girl made fun of me when I ripped the seam of mine. I haven’t gone back to my reunions, because I was afraid to face these people.
Those voices will haunt you. I hear them whisper every time I try to do something outside of my comfort zone. I hear them when I put myself out there at all, relationally or professionally. Being bullied made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of anything. Any attention or any success.
The biggest blow came my senior year from my guidance counselor. I thought I would only have to deal with this from my peers. I wasn’t the best student. I got detention at least three times a week, I would forge my dad’s signature to the forms so my parents wouldn’t know. I was barely a C student. It wasn’t because I couldn’t do the work, it was because I didn’t want to. I was bored, unchallenged, uninspired, and I wanted to get away from my hometown. I checked out of school, mentally, long before my senior year. College, that was my ticket out of all of this. I desperately wanted to go to college. When it was finally my chance to apply, I picked out five schools that I wanted to go to and applied. None of the schools I applied to were in Kentucky.
A couple weeks after I turned in my applications to the office, I was called down to my guidance counselor to “discuss somethings”. I sat across from her while she read through my transcripts, my applications, statistics from each school, blah blah blah. Then she dropped this bomb on me:
“I don’t think you’re college material. I’ll be surprised if you would make it in junior college.”
Out of all the words that were thrown at me by anyone in my life, this ranks in the top five. In a way, I owe her gratitude because I have spent the last sixteen years trying to prove her wrong. I am more than capable of doing the things I set out to do. Not only did I graduate college, but I got a Masters degree. As I write this, I am on my way back to Cambodia, because I have a job there…as a director.
Sometimes, the only motivation I have to keep going in this life, is to prove these people wrong. I am not the person they made me out to be. Yes, I may be a lot of things that aren’t very good, but I’m capable of doing a lot of really good things. Extraordinary things.
Little by little, year by year, the voices of these people from my past fade. The person I’m really trying to prove wrong is the teenage Amos who believed them. Moral of the story, these people will mean very little to your life in a few years. You are awesome. Embrace your weirdness, your body, your beliefs, whatever is it that makes you different. Being different is great and it will get you somewhere in your life. Normal-ness breeds predictability. If you want an exciting, and sometimes scary, life..be weird. It will make all the difference.