Saturday, June 07, 2008

Walking To The Beat Of My Own Drum

When I was growing up as a child, I had a very rough time. I was considered to be an outcast and was made fun of horribly. I am not denying I was bit of a strange child, more eccentric if anything else. I owe that to my over active imagination. One of the worst times in my life was from the age of eight to thirteen. During this time I had two girls in my class whose mission was to make my life as unpleasant as they could. I wore glasses, had flaming red hair and was the tallest in my class, even towering over the boys. I was always picked last during gym, had no one to sit with at lunch and I was never invited to any birthday parties. There was this one girl, who I guess you could say, was the class bully. Even though other students were also picked on, she always would surround me with the other girls, and sometimes some boys, and call me names or throw rocks or sticks at me. There was also this one girl who was more indifferent towards me. She was the smartest one in our class and always picked on me because of the things that would come out of my mouth or the lesser grades I would receive.

By the time I was twelve, I came home crying almost everyday. As I walked home from school, tears would fall down my cheeks as I wondered what was so bad about me that made everyone dislike me so? I soon became very somber and quiet. I was the type who always smiled and wanted to be friends with everyone. I soon became lost, my identity missing as I tried to conform in a world where I would belong. I no longer walked to the beat of my own drum.

One day, my mother saw me in my room, sobbing hysterically on my bed after another bad day from hell at school. As any mother would do, she tried to show me how special I was. She put me in front of a mirror and asked,

“What do you see?”
I said, “Me.”

She went on to say that she saw a bright, happy and voracious child who has so much to live for. These people who put me down and say horrible things are jealous. I have something they want but can’t have and because of that, they lash out.

I really took those words to heart. We may have faults but honestly, what was so horrible about me as a person that others could not stand? The one bully who used force to hurt was this chubby, short girl who was barely passing her classes. The other one who was so perfect, or so it seemed, never had many friends around and hardly ever smiled. From that day forth I decided that whatever another person may think of me or say towards me doesn’t really matter, all that matters is what I think about myself.

Jealousy is a very scary thing. It can make the strongest become weak and the weakest go past a point that some never return from. In this blogsphere we are all apart of, words mean so much. It can mean praise by a simple statement in a post or it can do the total opposite where one can lash out at someone. Since most of us may never have the chance to meet face to face and know the real person behind the computer, we only have the words we type to express who we are.

This blogsphere I inhabit is full of bright and witty people. Without having my daily dose of reviews, commentary or even a simple picture being posted, I feel empty. People blog for so many reasons, and especially in the literary circles we surround ourselves in, many use their on-line blogs for notice. Some may think of their blog as a way towards monetary value or the possibility of being the first to have that advanced review or author interview we only can wish for. Some may try for the most traffic in a given day, week or month and they live and breathe that success. Some just go with what they know and what brings them joy.

It is such a small world and as you all well know, we see the same names over and over on many different sites and blogs. In one day, myself, along with two other bloggers seemed to be following each other from blog to blog, which was quite a coincidence. But I also have come to the conclusion that some tend to become jealous. Yes, that dirty word yet again that can ruin the most wonderful of associations and friendships. I have even been there myself, envious that one read a book before me, or perhaps has a better relationship with an author or blogger than I do. Rather than post those feelings, I hold back and post words of congratulations and awe for a job well done.

What it all comes down to is respect and understanding that words are such a powerful tool. When words are used to hurt and bring forth pain, we all loose something, not just the one writing them or the one it is meant for. It seems so mean, petty and hurtful. Really, what is the point? It makes others turn away, rejected because a few choice people are trying to ruin something so special that we all want to be a part of.

Of course things die down and life goes on, some other situations arise that will be that talk of the web and we all will continue to comment. Some will keep quite and just watch, waiting for the right moment to become known and begin their own path to making their words come alive, either by starting their own blog or taking that next step which involves a word count, agent, editor and finally a publisher.

The point where I am at is still very unknown, whatever happens and may come my way, I will take on. My words are my own and no one can tell me otherwise. To this day I still very much so, walk to the beat of my own drum.

**A final thought to my story. A few years ago I found out that one of those girl bullies was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and there was a possibility that she may never have children. With no other thought in my mind, I found her address and sent her a card, explaining who I was and wishing her well. Less than five days later, she responded back. She sent me a card and wrote how she was out west working in the art therapy field with children who were abused. She went on to say she remembered who I was and always thought I was the nicest person. She signed her name and under it she wrote two words:

“I’m sorry.”

Both she and I knew what she meant. They were the most powerful set of words that still stick to me to this day. About two years after that, I found out her cancer was in remission, she got married and eventually had a little girl.**

Katiebabs (KB)


Jace said...

Great post! Very thoughtful and thought provoking. :)

Wendy said...

This was a very lovely post Katie(babs) - saved me the trouble of dithering on whether or not to cook up my own blog post on the topic :D

I've made the conscious decision to not comment, and avoid as much as humanly possible, whatever the latest blog drama of the moment is. I sorta like being Switzerland. Switzerland is cool.

Anne said...

Lovely post. Very, very lovely. Too bad not all bullies ever grow out of it. I, too, was bullied by more than one girl in more than one group of friends and it's hurtful and scary and sad. I applaud YOU and her for overcoming what some adults-using that term loosely- cannot.

Misty G said...

You know I have always thought that it's easier to hurt someone than it is to apologize for hurting someone. That was a wonderful story!

Shaymless Aymless said...

Thanks for the great post katie(babs). Children (as well as adults) can be so cruel. We should strive to remember that everyone has feelings. And walking to a different drum makes them more interesting. If we all walked to the same drum life would be incredibly boring.

I wasn't so much bullied in school as ignored. Always the odd one out and forgotten for the most part. So I focused on grades and studying and became the class nerd. I was always picked to do a project with but never invited to the parties. Books became my best friends and they still are.

azteclady said...

You have a lovely heart, katie *hugs*

Kristie (J) said...

Katie: What a truly moving post. I think we've all been guilty of feeling jealous of someone at sometime. They key is do we let it rule us, or do we acknowledge it, let it go and move on, thankful that we have what we do have.
I'm so very impresses that after making your life hell, you chose to rise above and reach out to someone who wronged you. And I can only imagine how affirming it was to read those words from her.

Devon said...

You almost made me cry!

You are a very good person, katiebabs:)

Very well-written post.

lisabea said...

I heart kb.


little alys said...

All of this just goes to show what a wonderful person you are.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a really great thing to read. Very thoughtful and touching all at the same time. I loved reading it.

Amy C said...

Now that my vision has cleared somewhat...that was a great post. Very touching and I could relate on some levels. I've had my own issues in school and I think that is why I am such a homebody today. Jealousy is a powerful emotion but one that can be stomped on and easily pushed aside if we really want to!

Dev said...

Great post, Katie. You did make me cry. Thank you for such a wonderfully moving and though provoking essay. I spent most of my growing up time trying to be invisible ~ it was easier than actually putting myself out there and being rejected. Sad thing was I never tried.

Carolyn Crane said...

Oh, that is such a touching story! And what a wonderful post.

That is so great that you reached out to that woman, and what a wise mom to really talk to you like that and help you see yourself and all your gifts.

It seems like there has been a lot of strife in our little blog world, and this thoughtful sort of insight is so valuable.

Anonymous said...

Made me cry.

This blog is one of the nicest places to come, because whichever of you is posting, that positive attitude shines through.

*resolves to be a nicer person*

Julia said...

This is a very powerful post, and a very thougtufl and heart felt too. Thanks for sharing that wonderful post with us, and to remind us that we shall love ourself for who we are not what we want to be :)

I'm sure that little girl who thought she was different, wasn't very different after all :)

Jenster said...

What a powerful post! My heart was breaking, but what a great mom you had.

Bridget Locke said...

Katie-Boy does this post make me think of my own childhood. I didn't have read hair, but I was 5'10 w/ glasses and a dorky hair-do. It seemed like I couldn't got a day without being picked on or teased or just whatever. School from kindergarden all the way through my last year in high school was hell on earth for me. It wasn't until I dropped out, got my GED and started working that I realized there were good qualities about me that would allow me to be my own person.

I'm 31 and I still have troubles with feeling insecure and selfdoubting. I figure one of these days I'll feel like the person I'm told I am. :)

And the end of your story? That is really amazing. A. You had balls & B. it's awesome that the lady apologized. Most people never would. :)

Bridget Locke said...

Should have said 5'10 in 5th grade. I'm 6'1" now. Have been since 8th grade. Yeah, being tall is great, but when you're young & taller than everyone else, it's hell on earth. *sigh*

KT Grant said...

I wish I knew they right words to say to each and everyone of you, but, I am a big weepy mess right now.

I am just speechless.

Tracy said...

You are an amazing person KB. The first part of the post made me tear up....that last bit just had me crying outright. Very touching. Thanks for your post.

Christine said...

It just so happens that I adore the beat of your drum, Kate! Its one of the sweetest songs I've ever heard! :)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing a piece of you here. It's so easy to forget how powerful words can be.

"What do you see?"

That was so beautifully written.

Mary M. said...

Beautiful. Thanks for taking the time to write this, it is something that everyone should read and think about.

Anonymous said...

That was very lovely. I think many a woman can reflect on similar situations and identify with your post. I know I can, and I don't often like to think back on those more painfully youthful moments. But your post resonated. I'm glad you posted it, and I'm glad I read it. ;)

Kati said...

Ah Kate, what a wonderful essay. You've become such a dear friend to me, and your story is such a moving one.

What a wonderful momma you have to help you realize the person you'd become, and what a strong willed, fantastic, humorous and warm woman you've become.

I love when someone posts something really thought provoking like this and it forces all of us to step back and look at our lives.

Kris said...

Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it.

Kate said...

What a powerful post, Katie. I'm sure it can resonate with everyone who reads it - those who were picked on, those who did the picking, and those who did nothing to help. I'm not certain what recent blogsphere strife is going on - I don't think we hit a lot of the same sites - but I always find it so interesting and cruel that people can forget to be nice and be adults, forget that being kind to each other is one of the greatest things we can do.

I'm also resolving to be a nicer person...thanks.

Sarai said...

Katie sometimes I swear you reach in and read my mind commenting on the very thing I am doubting or thinking about.
Following our own beat is very important and yet so hard to do at times. I am glad I decided to work on a blog I have met some wonderful people who are helping me out right now through a rough time.
Without you guys I would be lost... It's nice to find others like me who read and like the same thing and understand that we all are different but that is not a bad thing.
Very lovely post. I wish more people thought about their actions and words before they do anything if they did the world would be a much nicer place.
PS One day I SWEAR I am coming to NY to meet you *g*

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. Thank you! I'm so glad you were able to internalize your mother's words. You have such a big heart!

Thea said...

Katie *hugs* this is a beautiful, heartfelt post. I think everyone else has said it, and I have to echo the sentiment--Thank you for sharing with us :) You are a strong, wonderful person.

Brie said...

What a wonderfully thoughtful post, Katie.

I don't have much to add to the discussion, but I can say that I know what it was like to be different, and there is nothing in the world wrong with it.

Rosie said...

I know I'm late, but 'Wow!' It's not always easy sharing stuff like that. I'm with Jenster, your Mom is an amazing woman, and so are you.