This is me now, well actually on Friday Dec 10, 2010. I’m 44. I have gray hair which I hide with henna not nearly as regularly as I should and I am a geek. Being a girl and being a geek are not the world’s best combo in the eyes of the normal police but at 44 I don’t give a rat’s ass anymore what people really think of me. I know who I am and I like who I am but it took a very long time to get here.

So this is me wearing my one and only 501st T-shirt, the Imperial Officer’s Corps which I am totally proud of to support the Geek Girl Pride day, or let’s stop bullying each other shall we day. Wha??? you ask… well unless you’ve been hiding under a rock I am pretty sure you have heard about this story some place. Katie Goldman   is a little girl who got bullied at school for liking Star Wars. The message was Star Wars is only for boys but the deeper message was she is different and different is bad.

She is not alone. Bullying is something many any children, teens and adults deal with every day. It takes many forms and it ranges from upsetting to deadly.

If you’ve never been on the wrong side of the bully fence then it’s hard to image what it must be like. To be shunned, physically and verbally abused, to be NOT ONE OF US. Well I know, as do my siblings. We know. We’ve been there and it left its mark. I was teased my whole childhood. In Scotland I was picked on by the kids because my last name wasn’t typically Scottish and I was sensitive about it so it upset me and the more it upset me the more I got teased and picked. One of my teachers in primary school was particularity brutal with this weapon using it to publicly humiliate me in front of the class because I was slow at math. Though oddly enough when I actually got the sums right and did well she was mean about that as well, saying I must have cheated and so on. A Messer always messes things up was her favourite sentence when it came to me. She was an absolute bitch and I hated her and school and math because she made it a terrible experience. No wonder I freaking hate anything to do with math today.

When I was ten we moved from Scotland to Canada, Northern Newfoundland to be exact. I was terrified because what if they hated my name there as well but my folks assured me that in Newfoundland people’s last names were just as different if not more so so this wold not be an issue anymore. And they were right in that respect because Messer fit right in with the Rowbottoms and the Noseworthys. However what didn’t fit in was everything else.

I had a Scottish accent which I quickly learned to hide but not before I was singled out in class by my teachers to say words that were so very different making everyone laugh. It was utterly humiliating. I wasn’t born in St. Anthony and my dad worked for the hospital so I was one of them. When I was ten or eleven, while getting off the school but at lunch time Eddie Patey grabbed my hand as I was waving to a friend and said as he twisted it. “I hates the way you talk” He broke my pinkie finger and to this day it’s crooked, a reminder to me that it’s better to blend in than be different.

My brother and sister received numerous beatings, stonings as well as being spit at. We were different and hated for it. I didn’t have many real friends growing up. One girl liked me but not at school, she was a year ahead and didn’t want to be seen with me in case her classmates teased her for it. Another friend was also shunned for what ever reason and my folks didn’t like her very much, she was a bad influence though really all I remember of her was sitting in her house listening to Abba, for the most part my so called school friends only really liked me when it was around my birthday so they would be invited to the party and my mom put on a great party, but aside from that they were not very nice.

Maybe I was standoffish and maybe I was too different. I don’t know maybe I was not very nice either. I don’t know. I only know that I didn’t fit in and never would.

Up until the year I went to high school in Halifax, ( QEH) I had no idea what it was like to have a group of real friends, to be really liked for who I was and that being a bit weird and artsy was okay.After that my life changed. I began to find out who I was and slowly discovered that it was okay to be different sometimes.

I know that, as a child, bullying left me feeling alone and confused. It made me afraid to be alone after school or at the post office where I remember being surrounded by a group of boys who really wanted to hurt me and if the bus had not come at the right time it would have been bad.

Now at 44 I feel rage when I hear stories of kids being bullied. He’s gay, she’s a geek, they’re poor… the reasons for it are endless but they all boil down to one thing this person is not like us and we are afraid.

I have no big message here, just sharing my own story. Bullying is wrong on every level possible. Picking on the weak, the different is truly an act of cowardice, especially since it’s usually done in packs. Easy to be a bully when you have back up.

Some where along the line my difference made me special and enough people saw that and cherished me for it that I came to cherish myself. I am different. I am an artist and a geek. I love all things computer and techie. I game. I can understand L337 sp34k, I know how to google and I can work the DVD remote better than my husband. I am kind and I am giving and I like to help and do a good job. At the same time I am also self centered and I look out for me. I have had to learn that but it’s okay.
I speak 2 languages fluently and have an understanding of several more. I am unafraid to jump off the deep end, I take risks and try new things. I married the love of my life whom I met over the internet before it was cool.  I don’t have or want kids and I am very vocal about everything including the incurable illness I have which no one understands because it’s a female thing. I am the very person I was meant to be, flawed and perfect.

So Katie and all the other kids out there who have been and are being bullied in the end you will be the ones who win. Being bullied won’t necessarily make you stronger or help you be a better person but it leaves its mark and one day you will hopefully understand that you are an amazing person in your own right. That being different is far more valuable than being one of the sheep who follow the norm. Believe in who you are and become who you were meant to be and do not let the bullies drag you down. In the end they are the ones who lose because they have to live with their actions forever and you cannot undo what has been done, you can however, move beyond it.

So… until then Be excellent to each other.

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