I’m feeling troubled lately. Not just the usual troubled that happens when things in the media burst my bubble (and for the record, Alice Wong, I’m still going to call you out about that shark fin soup thing) but more about the circumstances around Amanda Todd, the continued harassment of her after her death, bullies, entitlement and a sense of ennui. The headlines (distressing) in conjunction with the season (autumn reflections) have the wheels turning and the cogs grinding. What started out for me as a blog about a teen’s suicide due to bullying has me examining that old chestnut of life and reflecting back on my own path…
Sorry, a little heavy right out of the gate, but these are the things that sometimes just need to find a way off of my chest.
Let me just point something out: I was bullied mercilessly from grade six to grade nine. I’m not sure what it was that made me have a target for other kids on my back other than being ‘weird’. A state I now, in fact, luxuriate in. But when I was growing up, it took a long time for me to get over the betrayal of trust from childhood friends and learn to start letting people into my world again. So I carried a little bit of this alienation into my adult years. I made friends with other weird people, and my life took on this strange questing quality. For a long time I looked for a group, a tribe, a scene to belong in, never finding one in my earlier years or finding the acceptance I craved. I moved in lots of circles, and had roots in many but none did I feel 100% like they were ‘mine’. I proceeded to run away from the city of my birth to join a roadshow, a circus, and a host of other bizarre phenomena. But what always felt like I was ‘home’ inevitably turned sour; broken hearts, isolation, alienation, and a sense of restlessness.
There are many chapters where I feel like I’m reliving strange versions of one of my favourite childhood story, Where The Wild Things Are… In each incarnation I run away, run with wild things, enjoy their company, then feel isolated, and long to go home to the place where someone loves me best of all. It’s happened in many areas of my life, and I’ve gotten very adept at feeling alone in a room full of people.
Despite being a mirror-girl, adapting myself to any and all situations, whether under lasers and trees in the rainforest, up in strange towers in glass cities, dirty clubs in the Old World or in a sweaty punk bar, or in secret spaces in the world that exists alongside the mainstream, I’ve learned an important lesson. I’ve learned that all these feelings, experiences, ups and downs have contributed to the being that resides in the core. It didn’t happen in high school. Or early 20s. It’s taken a long time to get these battle scars and I wear them proudly. But that took a long time to develop, and it’s still very much a work in progress.
And it saddens me to think there are those that will never get the chance.
Because of the relentless actions of a few people, kids in Columbine snapped, a girl would rather die than live on, and countless others are intimidated and cowed into thinking that something is wrong with them, instead of their tormentors. I have nothing but the deepest sympathy to Miss Todd’s family. I think of my own dark thoughts, both as a teen and adult and it’s only the people who truly loved me got me through, and when I read Amanda’s story I can say that I didn’t even have to deal with a FRACTION of the pain she did. This isn’t the story of a young woman with a chemical depression from hormone fluctuation. She was brutalized by people around her… and other people let it happen.
The whole affair in itself is hard to take, but when I read about Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year old girl shot in Pakistan by the Taliban for being vocal about her right to education as a girl, I think it’s not just about one kind of bully. We’re not dealing with a school yard bully or an internet troll; we’re dealing with a fucking global attitude that needs a serious adjustment. It brings to mind a piece from the Huffington Post I reposted here and sent to every one of my younger female relatives, which you really should read HERE. I want more than anything to hand these out to every newborn girl and her family, and hope she’s raised in a world where she doesn’t need to CONSTANTLY fight for her equality because of her gender.
Because how DARE anyone look themselves in the face after they shoot an unarmed 14-year old girl, and how DARE they live with themselves knowing that their actions drove a young woman to take her own life. If you are so proud of your religious cause, your actions and your the big badass you believe yourself to be, come out to the world and announce yourself for everyone to see. Congratualations. Your officially what’s wrong with our species.
To all the people who are tormented, to the little girls who don’t know yet, but will one day, the people born the wrong gender, the misunderstood, the ones who unintentionally offend people due to being different or ‘weird’, it truly will get better. You will develop armour, callouses, strength, and you’ll find other other weirdos and you will give one another hope.
And if you can’t find them, come find me.
Little Miss Risk