When I was little, I was not one of the “popular” kids. I was generally the one person in the class who would not be invited to the cool kids’ parties. My little brother would get beaten up nearly every day at school, and then the teachers would accuse him of starting fights! He used to ask if they really thought he was starting fights with 10-12 other boys who would have piled on to punch or hit. It seemed funny to him, even then.
I had a real sense of belonging to my own family. Our time at home re-built our self-esteem. Our mother, in particular, would tell us that the mean kids were going to grow up to be real losers. She had this theory that bullies were generally insecure, jealous of kids who got good grades and would excel, while bullies would go on to be failures. I have to admit, it wasn’t very convincing at the time, but as I grew up, I saw that it was true!
I always had a sense of belonging from the animals that occupied my life at home. We had ponies and sheep, dogs and cats, a donkey, and chickens (although chickens do not really let you know if they notice you). I also found an escape from being treated badly at school through my books. Reading a good book, (I loved the Narnia books) always helped me find a place of belonging. I worry about kids today when Facebook and texting can allow bullies to follow you home. Shut the door on bullies. Don’t pay any attention to anyone who is mean to you. They are not worth your time, but do tell your friends and any adults you trust that you are being bothered. That feeling of belonging comes from people (or even animals) who love you. There are more people who love you than you know. You just have to let them know you need a bit of support.
Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, Green Party Leader
Originally published on the Boys and Girls Club of Canada website.