The pen is mightier than the sword. That quote’s been coming up a lot lately and of course its mainly referring to those poor journalists in France from Charlie Hebdo and our freedom of speech everywhere. I whole-heartedly say, “Je Suis Charlie”.
I’d also like to say #freeAJstaff and hope that Australian Peter Greste and his fellow journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy are freed from their Egyptian prison soon. It’s been 379 days too long.
I’ll now use my pen (actually keyboard) in my freedom to speak about bullying.
I thought mean girls stopped existing after high school. To quote from the movie Mean Girls (2004): Cady: [narrating] Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.
The problem I have in front of me is that 50-something women can still act like mean girls. It doesn’t stop in high school. They can gang up in self-satisfying, spiteful ways that have left me perplexed. Apparently if you have an opinion of your own it will get slammed down because they are used to having their own way. If they’re drunk and you’re sober you won’t be able to get a word in edge ways to put your side across and when you try to they’ll snigger and jibe you. You’ll be called selfish when you know that is so far from your character it’s living on another planet. You can’t yell back because they’re abusing you with hate and hurt. It’s not a discussion it’s a lynching. You curl up within yourself, let the words stew and shed silent tears.
Last night I felt thirteen again. Not the happy, carefree beach girl thirteen. The scared thirteen year old who was bullied at school by older girls. For what reason? My mum believed it was jealousy. My sister, brother and best friend at the time agreed. I don’t know why the mean girls turned on me then. I’ve never made any real sense of it. Perhaps it was because I was small and vulnerable, I guess I still am.
I’m not shy. I have opinions and most of them are educated and well thought out. I think before I speak. At least I try to as much as possible. I’m not always right but I’d like a discussion before I agree I’m wrong. I study, research and read. I’m informed. I don’t like hurting people’s feeling. I’m compassionate and caring and when I’m your friend I’m loyal and generous. I’ll find a way to help you out if you need it. I’ll give you a shoulder to cry on and I’ll keep my mouth shut while you pour your heart out until you’re ready for my advice. I’ll drop what I’m doing and be there for you in a crisis. Even if that crisis is that you just need a friend to talk to because you’re stressed.
Because I’m this kind of friend I don’t need people who are unkind to me. I don’t care if you regret it in the morning when the sober light of day dawns on you. I don’t care if you somehow feel justified for saying mean thing. I don’t care if you apologise and say you didn’t mean it (unless of course you really mean the apology). I don’t need friends like you.
I need friends who love me faults and all. Friends who phone just to ask how my day is. Friends who I’ve had for three decades, live far away and can still meet up with and feel like it was only yesterday. Friends who appreciate having me in their lives. Friends who visit in the middle of summer when everyone else has a pool and we don’t. Friends who plan a party or a barbecue and my husband and I are the first to be invited. Friends who have looked after our child when we took the other to hospital. Friends who belly laugh with us. Friends who know my family and ask how they are. Friends who don’t judge me or gossip about me. Friends who love my children like their own. Friends who love my dog. Friends who choose to sit with me at the footy and won’t go unless I’m there to watch with them. Friends who invite us to special functions just because they like our company and know we’ll enjoy it. Friends I can talk to about Africa, volunteering, teaching, and writing, saving elephants and any other one of the causes close to my heart (without getting bored). Friends who post an old photo of me on social media and say they love that photo and me. Friends who know me well enough to know when we I’m upset and sooth me. Friends who can discuss politics and religion with me with calm debate not heated discussion.Friends who may not share my love for writing but wholeheartedly encourage it nonetheless. Friends who give me a hug and a kiss when I walk in a room and really mean it. They’re the people who don’t care how much money I have, what car I drive, how many trips overseas I can afford, how big or small I am, whether I’m male or female, religious or not, smart or not. They love me for me.
It was unfortunate that a wonderful night celebrating with some awesome women, with interesting conversations, catch-ups, photo sharing, comradery and even lots of laughs, could be ruined later by thoughtlessness of a few. I’m very glad to have rekindled some friendships and to have enjoyed warm and inviting company.
So, if you think I’m not a valued friend that’s okay. I have plenty of real friends who do. You can keep your daggers but don’t throw them at me any more because I’ll just snap them with my pencil (and watch out because there’s always a chance you’ll throw them at each other). On that note I truly wish women would be kinder to each other, more supportive and less judgmental. I hope if you read this you’ll at least agree with that statement. My male friends would never belittle me and they rarely do it to each other. There’s a lot to be said about mateship.
Meanwhile…I’m happy with my pencil, pen and keyboard…and my own freedom of speech.
If you’re being bullied feel free to comment below and you can go to Stop Bullying for advice. Stay happy!