Friday, December 09, 2011

Who's a Bully?

The only person who ever bullied me was my mother. Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, which is something I was reminded as I watched The Big Bang.

I was talked into watching the show and I love it. Last night's show was about bullies.

Leonard got a message on Facebook from one of the high school bullies who made his life hell. He wanted to meet and Leonard finally agreed to do so -- with his friends. Penny, Bernadette, and Amy were trying on clothes and having a little hen party and Amy and Bernadette talked about their bullies. Penny had no bullies in her life because she came from a nice place where no one bullied anyone else, but they did play pranks on each other. That's when it came out that Penny was the bully.

As I watched these adults work their way through the demons of their past, or realize they were the demons of the past, it dawned on me that Sheldon is a bully. He hides behind his intricate rules and ways of doing things and makes everyone's life miserable until they fall in line. Bully. That reminded me of another bully, a woman who was a close acquaintance and who bullied everyone in her life, but not with pranks or tricks. She bullied with her intellect, which wasn't all that great, but definitely above the average.

Sheldon and my acquaintance are bullies of the intellect, using their intelligence to make everyone else feel smaller and less accomplished, and that is just as bad as some big brute or beautiful girl who uses their assets to make everyone less brawny or cute to feel just as small, even when they don't stuff them into a locker.

When you get right down to it, bullies are basically narcissists, among other things, and they feel inadequate so they must knock everyone else down to feel superior. Come to think of it, I've known a lot of bullies in my life, and they were often people I looked up to (for a while) or called friend, but not for long. Their true natures eventually came out and I walked away, not without some emotional bruises and scars, but I walked away all the same.

Bullying happens in writing and publishing, too, but the only bullies seemed to be traditional publishers. They are no longer alone. Bullies crop up every day in indie publishing and among the writers, too. It still comes down to the same equation. If you feel inadequate or small, make everyone around you feel small, and sometimes the bullies are a little hard to detect because they seem to be doing you a favor or telling you some truth. Let me give you a hint: Even bullies know a few things and they're not shy about sharing -- or making you feel stupid and small.

Any time someone cuts you down or denigrates your choices, you may be in the presence of a bully. Any time you feel like your success has been turned to dross, a bully was likely behind it.

The only way to exorcise bullies and weaken their influence is to walk away and ignore them. Take what's useful and discard the rest. If someone makes you feel stupid for going the traditional or the indie route in publishing, ignore them. It's your choice and you're the only one who has to live with it. If it doesn't work out, then choose something else, but do not allow anyone the power over you to make you feel small or question your choices. All questions should come from inside you and not from some bully.

Life is difficult enough without being bullied, and there are plenty of bullies in every walk of life. Keep one eye on the bullies and the other on your path. Make your own choices and ignore the rest. It's your life after all, and bullies seldom change. They just switch games.

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