I read about this story last night and then I watched the video. Clearly her strength and bravery are remarkable and can serve as an example to other youngsters, but I think the lessons she offers can apply to so many of us. It takes courage to live your life.
The lessons here are not new. They are the same ones we have heard time and time again. They are what we all know to be an absolute truth and yet so many of us continue to struggle. We continue to let the mean guy win.
I can’t remember if I told you this story or not, so forgive me if I have.
A few weeks ago when our family went to the pumpkin patch with friends, E was standing in line to ride a zip line ride. After a few minutes she came running over to me and said she didn’t want to go on the ride. I asked why.
E- That girl is making fun of me. She is saying I have odd things on my head(she has cochlear implants) and I am slow on the zip line.
I asked her a series of questions…Are you happy here? Are you having fun? Does your family love you? Do you have friends? Do you have a safe place to live? Yummy food?
She answers yes to all of them. I then ask her if that mean girl making fun of her changes any of that. She says no. I ask her if she thinks what that girl did was nice. She says no.
Me- Then E why on earth would you let her have power over you and stop you from doing what you like with the people who are nice to you?
E smiles, runs off and enjoys the next few hours at the park despite the mean girl’s attempt to ruin it.
How many of us let the mean guy/girl win? How many times do we not go to that shooting course because we are afraid someone will judge us? How many times do we not do this or that because we are too tall, too short, too thin, too fat, too slow, too awkward…how many people don’t write a blog because their grammar isn’t perfect?
Those may not be life altering decisions, but actually I think they are. I think we allow ourselves to miss out on a lot of joy because of the mean people. And make no mistake there are people who don’t like you or me and they will make fun of you and me…who cares?
One thing I hate about elementary school is they teach the kids that everyone is nice or if they aren’t there is a good reason. Example…if little Johnny calls you a name well, he didn’t mean it and its ok and just play. That is not a good life skill. I bet little Johnny doesn’t like my kid. Maybe for a good reason, maybe because little Johnny is mean, maybe because of who knows, but it doesn’t matter. I teach my kids that other people in the world will be mean and some won’t like them, but here are two lessons…
1. Do not give them power over your life. Live your life for you not them and
2. Don’t try to get them to like you.
When I broke my ribs and got some flack from a few folks, I didn’t stop doing what I wanted, I didn’t get mad, I didn’t cry, I didn’t lose sleep or spend endless hours lamenting over it with family and friends. Arete(the dude I trained with) and I didn’t even discuss it for weeks. Neither of us cared. We knew we were not going to stop, so why be upset about someone else’s opinion? Since I write a blog that includes issues on self defense I did make one attempt to explain to those criticizing me why, but once it was clear they didn’t care, I stopped. Don’t have to like me, agree with me, or even be nice to me, I am gonna live my life anyway.
Now, I don’t think those people are bullies and most didn’t mean to be mean, but the point is when many of us are confronted with any kind of judgement we willingly hand over our power to others.
While I did not let that event impact me, I certainly have let fear of ridicule control me from time to time. I have avoided doing things because I was nervous or self conscious. Few are totally immune. What I have found though, is each time I stand up for my own life, it gets easier and easier and eventually, it doesn’t even come into my conscious thought. Little by little I naturally think less and less about others view of me and more and more about my own view of self.
The judgement doesn’t even have to be real. I have never found anyone at any shooting course I have taken to be judgmental. Most are, rightfully, too concerned with their own skills too worry if I messed something up.
So many people will say to me, I want to take that course, but I worry about this or that. I will ask, “Have you ever taken a course where the people were mean?” Always the answer is no. Again the answer doesn’t matter because I know there are asshole instructors out there and mean fellow students, but many times we hand them the power before we even know they are mean.
Letting others opinions keep us locked up in our house afraid to live our lives or worse thinking about ending it, is allowing the mean guy to win. We prepare like crazy to defeat the bad guy with every ounce of our being, but many of us are letting the mean guy control our lives and take away the joy from a life worth defending. All the little moments of doing things is what makes up the entirety of a life. Some of us like the solitude and do not need or want anyone else, that is fine, but if we let anyone keep us from being joyful and experiencing what we want for fear of judgement or ridicule or embarrassment we are allowing ourselves to be victims. We are willing being victims in our own robbery. The robbery of our souls.
Don’t just fight to stay alive, fight to live!