Category Archives: bullying

To Whoever Keyed My Sister’s Car

I’m sure you’re not reading this, because that would imply we know each other. And if, on the off chance we do, and I discover who you might be, I’ll be sure to have a frank conversation with you about using your words.

Battles have begun on this blog. I have laid down enough literature on heartbreak and relationships to stir up trouble offline.

I’ve been cryptic more than once, sure that the person in question could decide for themselves if I was talking about them. I like to think of myself as a real Tay Swift wannabe, on occasion.

So if Taylor’s car got keyed, surely she’d write a song about it.

That’s sort of how I feel about this whole situation.

And I never meant to turn you into a blog post. No I never intended to turn this story into a lesson, but man I am in need of a good lesson these days.

To be honest, after I told a co-worker, the first words out of his mouth were, “Did you blog about it?”

Well, no.

Well, not yet.

Here’s what I know about you: nothing.

I don’t know if you were angry with her, if you met her once or didn’t even remember her name. I don’t know if you just really, really have a passionate dislike for people who drive Honda Civics.

All I know is that you carved a four-letter word and the word “you” into that midnight blue paint and it cannot be undone.

I have thought about all the times I turned to words to pummel injustices, perceived and actual. I have thought about the mistakes in judgment I’ve made, turning this blog into a stage to try to get friends to admit they’d done something wrong.

For years, I felt guilty about my words.

And then you happened.

Listen, I know she’s kind of black and white like that.

Level with me. She’s got wicked good fashion sense, hair so bouncy and voluminous it was born for a salon commercial, and a wild, bold heart. I know she doesn’t walk on eggshells. She’s not that kind of girl.

Clearly, neither are you.

People either love her dearly or want to destroy her. I think we know which side you’re on.

But don’t you think I’ve ever gotten mad at her? Don’t you think she’s ever screwed up for someone else?

I hope you didn’t think she was perfect. That’s a terrible burden to place on somebody.

Really, it doesn’t matter what you think, though. What matters is that you’ve done something unfixable.

Do me a favor. Picture this world:

You pull up for a job interview with F— You scrawled across the hood of your car.

Do you think you’re getting the job?

That’s what I thought.

Imagine if we took our tweets and taped them to our backs like Kick Me signs. All the drunk text messages you ever sent hovered above your head like those thought bubbles in old-school phone commercials.

That’s what I imagine it feels like to walk outside on a Sunday morning, collapse to the pavement, and wonder how you’re going to pretend it never happened.

Maybe you were drunk. I don’t know. It’s not really my forgiveness you need.

I’m just letting you know, personally, that there are some things money can’t buy. And dignity, well, it’s one of them.

Sincerely,
A Totally Un-Cool, Overly-Protective Older Sister

PS. Please don’t key my car?

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My Promise To You: On Bullies, Breathing & Being Fifteen

I used to have almost a thousand hormonal and emotional preteen girls following my missteps. And I did nothing about it.

I regret that—not because it would’ve made me pretend to feel less messy emotions or be more self-aware, but because I never tried to reach out to those hundreds of girls. I never bothered to learn their names or memorize the way they parted their hair or the bangles that always clanked when they ran their fingers through it in mock exasperation.

And isn’t that the way we learn? By asking the questions we have and hoping someone else throws back an answer that’s easier to swallow? Isn’t that the reason we read a stranger’s words and call them understanding?

I was fifteen. I had a quote Xanga.

Quotes From The Heart, it was called. And it’s still floating around the ether, if ever you need to know what my fifteen year old self had to say about feeling out of place and less than loveable.

I wrote about heartbreaks that weren’t yet real, boys who thought I was invisible, girls whose favorite pastime was passing notes in American Government with words like queer hitched to my name.

And wouldn’t it be nice to punch her in the face and pretend it wasn’t me?

I sat for hours trying to decipher that one. And six years later, I can tell you it’s a funny thing to say. It’s a funny thing to think you can deck someone in the nose and they won’t know it was you. It just doesn’t work.

I think I would’ve asked those eight hundred or so girls what they thought about bullying. And boys. And beginning to dread gym class because you weren’t so good at the mile run or the shuttle run or anything that required putting one step in front of the other.

I would have asked them what they clung to in my own missteps or what they hoped when they logged on and saw that I had updated since last they checked. I would have learned their worlds, one at a time, and tried to answer the questions they had the courage to ask.

I hope you know you can do that with me. You can send me an email or a text message or a tweet. You can expect an answer that doesn’t put a label on what you’re feeling or try to tell you it’s nothing, really, to be fifteen and terrified of the girl sitting next to you, stewing with anger because you exist.

Because you dared to breathe next to her. I hope you’re not holding your breath. I hope you’re feeling the burden lift. If not, begin today.

I’ve been in the business of laying strips of my heart onto html-coded web pages for far too long to stop now. If you are just finding me, I am here. Here. Ready for you.

For The Swing Set Souls

If you shoved me in the DeLorean and Scrooge’d me into my ten-year-old self, I’m not so sure my side of the playground would be buzzing with activity.

Or swimming with sticky fingers from flavor ice pops. Crackling with sneakers scrubbing pavement.

I’m not so sure you’d run up to me with a jump rope and ask if I could hold one end.

“Please, oh please,” you wouldn’t have said. “We absolutely need your help. Come with me.”

More likely, you’d find me scraping my shoes against a pile of woodchips as I swung back and forth, back and forth, so close to those smiling faces and churning backward all the same.

That go-to interview question pops into my head: “What’s your biggest weakness.”

“Well, sir, you see it’s, um, kind of a funny story. Have you been to Home Depot lately?”

“What?”

“Home Depot, sir. You know those swing sets with striped overhangs and monkey bars? I’m kind of like a swing.”

“You are,” he might say.

Because I am sure that if it were a woman, she would already be pulling her wallet out of her purse and unfolding a photo gallery longer than my forearm. Pictures of her own children pushing each other at the neighborhood playground in her hands.

“A swing,” I’d say. “Yes. I’ve been waiting for too long now like one of those rusty swings cracking and weathered, hoping the store employee might brush his forehead with his orange apron pocket and drag me inside. Out of somebody else’s rainstorm. Away from the back of the pile. Into somebody’s backyard.”

He might not follow, but maybe he will. Maybe he had some swing days of his own, back on the playground, hands tucked inside overall pockets.

I am sort of hoping his childhood years weren’t categorized by foursquare games and knockout championships and getting presidential on the mile run in gym class. I am sort of hoping he got an X for that portion.

Because just like I learned to lace up my sneakers and round a 400-meter track four times, I am ready to stop sitting and pausing and shuffling and waiting and hoping and praying some swing set lover comes over to sit on me. Learning how to take Rooted In Place less metaphorically.

I hope the rest of you Swing Set Souls are, too.

February Discoveries

Because I have been drowning in goodness lately, this month’s Discoveries list is – hopefully – particularly beautiful. I hope you find some gems of wisdom and inspiration and hold them close on this leap year.

Because I am an intern. Kelsey, or “the lion-haired girl,” wrote a beautiful post about the things we do not for money but out of love and the desire to learn and soak up all that we can. It’s heartbreakingly true and ultimately encouraging.

Leap Year Project. Based on a simple premise—that 2012 is the year to leap feetfirst into our big dreams and desires—the site is a network for individuals doing just that. If ever you needed a little push into the scary unknown, have a look.

20 Essential TED talks for Future Leaders. It’s no secret I am a TED talk addict. While I haven’t watched all twenty, I highly recommend Seth Godin’s talk on standing out and Ron Gutman on the hidden power of smiling.

It Gets Better Project. This non-profit organization centers on that simple sentence: “It gets better.” Vloggers from around the world record their messages for bullied youth, particularly LGBT teens.

Things That Change. I love me some Hannah Katy posts. This month, she crafted this memory and brought it to life for us, forcing readers to reconcile with the things that change and things that go unsaid when life splits two people toward opposite places.

It Only Takes A Girl. Started by a highschooler, this video project tells the startling story of girls around the world who are mistreated and missing out on a deserved life.

It is about us. Haley Kristine’s post on Good Women Project invites us to consider the male perspective in taking a leap and entering a relationship.

Colour Lovers. I am beyond addicted to this website. It has tools for creating color palettes for web design, print design, logos, banners, interior decoration, and so much more. And it includes hex codes for corporate brands, too.

I am learning, with each new email, that we are all hiding behind the Cool Factor.

These days, I am living in my Gmail inbox, breathing in stories of souls who come to me with heavy hearts.

But if you asked me what I’m doing, I’m just as likely to tell you I’m in the business of designing fashionable kneepads.

“Kneepads?” you’re saying.

Yes, kneepads. And elbow pads and wrist pads and helmets, too.

But not just any kind of kneepads. Fashionable ones.

We are in the business of protection and prevention and healing, but we’re making it personal and attractive.

We’ll have pink glitter ones for the Glam Gals. Camouflage prints for the Deer Hunters and ROTC members. Argyle for the Preps and plaid for the Westerners. Teal and tan for the California Surfer Boys and black and purple for the Rocker Chicks.

We’ll stock them in all the university colors and people will begin to buy them as graduation presents because what better way to say “welcome to your new life” than to suit up for an epic battle with impending disaster?

Growing up, my mom had to wrestle my Barbie bike helmet onto my head. She had to paint a picture of what might’ve happened if I had an accident and wasn’t wearing it.

And even then, that didn’t stop me from complaining about the bangs in the eyes or the constant itching at the back of my neck as my ponytail scratched me.

That didn’t stop me from feeling like a Loser with a capital L.

But these days, I am wishing it were that easy—strap on your kneepads and helmet and swerve to avoid all the orange cones:

Loneliness. Depression. Breakups. Anxiety. Divorce. Suicide.

I am learning, with each new email, that we are all hiding behind the Cool Factor.

It’s not cool to be depressed or self-harming or bulimic or otherwise unable to cope with change and disaster and heartbreak and low self-esteem.

But it happens.

So I am hoping we can unravel this piece of fabric knotting our lips together in favor of something new—open minds and fashionable kneepads and attractive ways to say You Aren’t The Only One Suffering.

Because you’re not. Have I told you that lately?