“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“As a child, I just wanted to be happy. But every day kids were cruel. Adults told me to get over it. How can you get over a pain that is real, and cut so deep? As an adult myself now, though it is not as overt, bullying still happens.”
That is the story of the underdog, bullied as a child. But does bullying stop when you become an adult?
We think of bullying as a childhood issue, but it plays out throughout adulthood. If you have never been bullied, enter the world of being insecure. It’s personal, and you feel helpless. However, there is help, and that alone gives hope to victims of bullies.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “I would rather be a little nobody, than to be an evil somebody.” There are bumper stickers and quotes geared towards affirming that a victim who has been bullied should try to look beyond “MEAN WORDS” As inspiring as those quotes are, it is sooooo hard to look beyond that. The name-calling, emotional assaults, mental oppressions are cuts that leave invisible scars. These scars never seem to heal fully. They are tattoos that may hold a victim back as they carry them to their workplace, school, or if you have a family, they impact how you raise your children.
AN AWKWARD MOMENT
As a young outcast, you start to believe there is something wrong with you. Many tell you to adapt and never mind the bullies. Not easy. Most of you know I love American football. Drew Brees is an NFL quarterback who has a big birthmark prominently placed over his right cheek. When Oprah first met him to interview him, she quickly thought it was a lipstick smudge and tried to wipe it off. How awkward? Brees grew up with malicious name-calling. He now makes millions and has enough money to remove that scar. He chose not to. His message is, “Making fun of someone because they’re different from you is not being tough.” He indicates anyone who does that is no friend of his. Now fans go to the games with fake birthmarks or temporary tattoos to show their love.
DELANEY YOUNGSON’S CHILDHOOD
Delaney Youngson, our Dandy Lion of the month, does not have the same fan club as Drew Brees. But her message is valid and aligns with Brees. She had a rough childhood. She was born with a rare genetic disorder from which many die at birth. The condition is due to a small part of chromosome 22 missing. This deletion causes low physical development. Delaney had delayed growth and developmental problems. She was stunning then and still is. However, her classmates and neighbourhood kids saw this uniqueness differently. Growing up, she had a large head of curls and blueish-greenish eyes. During the podcast, she told me, “I was a bit smaller than my peers in height. It made me stand out and I was considered an outcast”.
She recalls fondly in her early years being surrounded by a supportive family. However, her parents divorced when Delaney was only eight. It was a time in her life where she was struggling with her self-image. The separation meant that she would live with her father and brother. Coming from a divorced family was not the norm at the time. Though she loved both her parents, she was becoming more and more unsure of herself. She remembered the happy days before her parents got divorced; they would often host small get-togethers with friends and play all types of music. She would dance around the living room and be in her glory. But that was mere memory now.
“DANCING IS THE HIDDEN LANGUAGE OF THE SOUL” MARTHA GRAHAM
Delaney felt her life was similar to one of the famous ballets composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–76. A princess turned into a swan. Her reality of now being a child of divorced parents and singled out for her unique appearance affected her self-esteem. She was bullied all through school, and because of this, she wanted to change herself. She had to find ways to overcome these draining, negative feelings. Somehow, she would have to find her path to happiness, and her journey took her through many different phases. It all boiled down to not feeling “enough.” Delaney felt like an outcast no matter where she went. People always stared at her. “Why me?” she often thought to herself. Every night she would look in the mirror, hoping that it was the day the mirror would accept her. Not once did the mirror have kind words. Her sorrows were buried away when she laid in bed and covered her face so no one would have to look at her. At least not for those moments. Not even herself.
REBUILDING MY SELF-ESTEEM
She started seeing a therapist who, in her opinion, helped to a certain degree, but she needed more support than that. But what? She started being influenced by her brother’s music; Rap, and Hip Hop, then came poetry. She used the poetry skills she had learned in Elementary School to write rhyming song lyrics. It became a coping mechanism for her. She turned poetry into her passion. Delaney shared her work with friends, and it became contagious. They all wanted more of her. She started to rebuild her self-esteem.
BULLYING….. STATS AND HISTORY
In a Harvard study done on high school students, 96% reported having been bullied at least once in their lives. 85% reported witnessing bullying, and 46% indicated that they refused to go to extracurricular activities because the bullies are there. Unfortunately, 2% of their classmates committed suicide after consistent bullying.
In the 1500s, “bully” was a Dutch word for “lover” or “friend” In the mid-1800, it took a new turn to “harasser.” Bullying is a form of aggressive behaviour. It is intentional, hurtful, and persistent. Bullying is a balance of power where one individual is dominant over the other, and it happens to both children and adults. It often creates fear. Bullies look for control and target people who feel vulnerable and have low self-esteem or exude a lack of self-confidence. They want power.
In most cases, they target individuals who are physically smaller than them. When confronted, they insist that it was an accident. In most cases, they say that they had no idea that the victim wasn’t having fun.
HOW TO GET RID OF A BULLY
Using direct, concise sentences to make your statements such as “That’s not okay with me” “Stop it. I don’t like that” can set limits. Avoid making long speeches to the bully, and becoming bully-proof starts with making a declaration to take control. The biggest bully becomes fear. Facing your fear step-by-step is the solution. Take classes, read books, listen to podcasts (preferably the Authenticity Series: The Dandy Lion Perspective). It will give you the confidence you need to be your best self. There are many ways to deal with mean words. For more strategies, check out our Empowered Me Signature Program.
Today at age 20, Delaney wants to be a songwriter. It has opened her imagination. She is inspired to help others who face challenges that she experienced. One can never change their history. Though her life has been a roller coaster of events, she lives a life of no regrets. It has given her strength, and she feels empathy for the “underdogs.” She continues to be the voice for the underdogs. She uses blogs and inspirational words on her social media platform. She says, “I want young people to know, the hard times make you strong and you don’t have to be anything except yourself! I encourage young people to find something they love and go for it! I believe you can always find something you love doing and it is worth chasing if it makes you happy.”
A question to Delaney:
What does “to be authentic” mean to you?
“To look in the mirror, recognize my flaws, and know I am still beautiful and worthy.”
Connect with Delaney: Instagram@delaney.youngsonFacebook Delaney Youngson