You ever known a kid who absolutely struggles with school? This kid aces the academics but cannot handle the social aspects. It is a guy who is so painfully shy that it becomes obvious as nervousness overcomes him. He gets tongue tied, he gets sweaty and anxious, and physically he becomes a wreck. His reaction to stress, which may be as minor as talking to a girl, causes others to take notice and laugh or poke fun at him. As a result, the boy stays far away from all dances and bonfires. He defines "socially awkward".
I was that guy. I can still remember girls laughing and poking fun at me just to see me blush or sweat. And, believe me, I can name names if I need to as I certainly have not forgotten the pain. When the rest of my friends were dating, I shot free throws in my driveway. As a result, after a period of warm up, I can still ht between 5-8 BACKWARD free throws. This is a skill without a lot of applicability in life, however.
I finally and slowly overcame shyness. I have devoted a lifetime and a career helping people to the best of my ability. I have spent a lifetime helping people seek out their inner beauty when they do not see it through the veil of life's pain. Most days, I do not even think about the painful past, but I have to admit I really have no desire to do anything associated with former high school "buddies".
Last night, out of the blue, I was insulted on a social media site. Someone from "those days" inferred that I was never and would never be attractive. OK, I can see that evidence in the mirror, but this person has no idea what my inner attractiveness may be. You see, they did not speak to me back then to assess the "real" me and they have no idea what makes me tick today. I guess I did not let this water run off my back like I normally do. In some of the settings in which I have worked (prison, state hospitals) I have been called some pretty inventive names. But, last night some bones were dug up close to Halloween.
How do we deal with stuff like that when it arises?
1. Avoid the primal response. As I re-read the comment made the second time (the first time I was shocked and did not absorb it all), my mind conjured up some not so nice quick responses that most would admit they would entertain. What good would that response do? None. Instead, I simply mentioned that I did not appreciate an insult that apparently aged like cheese for 30 years.
2. Understand that people will always be critical. It does not matter how much I feel I have helped people and how I think my life's work matters to mankind, man (or woman) possess individual agendas and motives that are in no way connected to me. Expressing them, I suppose, is cheaper than the therapy they may need.
3. "To thine own self, be true". My life continues despite someone's opinion. Yes, I look back at the experiences from middle and high school with great disdain. To me, it is like thinking about last year's stomach flu. I am glad its over and never want to experience it again.
I would be a liar if I said the comment did not bother me. It did cost me a few minutes of sleep.This morning, it motivates me to look deeper inside myself and really see what I am. Things, big or small, helpful or hurtful, happen for a reason.