I remember when my mother moved me and my brother to a new town, when she met husband number 4. I was 12. I hadn’t been all that successful in making friends before. I was bullied and made fun of, because I was fat and we were poor. My mom, who made her living as a cleaning woman, couldn’t afford to buy the latest fashion trends, toys or whatever else kids my age had. See, the country doesn’t matter. Privileged kids tend to be jerks, no matter where you are at. I can attest to that first hand.
So, in 5th grade we moved again. I was immediately outcast by the “cornflake” girls. You know, the pretty, or maybe not so pretty, but at least spoiled kids; the kind who has it all and felt that this entitled them to make fun of me, cast me out and badmouth me, every chance they got. I felt terribly lonely. I had spent 3rd, 4th and part of 5th grade in the library, but this new school didn’t have a library to run to.
For example, I made “friends” with a girl who lived across the street. She was stuck up and loved letting me know, every chance she got, that she came from a much better family. She spoke “proper” or “High” German and made fun of my Adidas sneakers from the supermarket, that weren’t really Adidas, but the so called “Adidas with the missing stripe,” the cheap, two-striped shoes, made of plastic. She made fun of my roller skates, which were 3 sizes too big and featured large wads of toilet paper in the toe area, so they’d fit me. My mom couldn’t afford to buy me skates and so I got a pair she found at a supermarket; on sale…3 sizes too big. I didn’t care, I was happy to have roller skates and didn’t care what people said. I had learned to, at least outwardly, ignore the comments and douche baggery coming from my peers. She made fun of how I talked and loved showcasing me to her equally stuck up friends and then kick me out, because I wasn’t good enough to hang with them. When she did “allow” me to come over, it seemed more out of feeling sorry for me, which was quickly overwritten by the fact that she simply lacked compassion or the ability to look passed my “poor” exterior. Her mom didn’t like me either. Her daughter was much too good to have a white trash friend like me.
There are other crap stories I could add. Alas, there isn’t a whole lot of use in regurgitating the stories of abuse and cruelty I had raked up by the time I was 12. But wait, there is a point to all of this; I promise 🙂
When I was a teenager, I was the most miserable. I wanted so badly to fit in and be like the popular kids. I envied them for the things they had. I envied them for having parents, for being able to afford the school trips, the school supplies, clothes and things I never had. I envied them for being better than me; well, at least my idea of being better. I vowed that I would prove that I, too, was good enough and deserved to not being bullied, made fun of and put down anymore. And boy, did I go overboard with that, but again, that’s a different story and still, not the point I want to make here.
So what is the point? Well, let me get to it, because I think it’s an important one. One that, especially teenagers, and all those who were treated like trash need to know (if they haven’t learned it yet). Ready? OK, here it is: THEY WERE AND STILL ARE THE REAL LOSERS!
Over the past few years I have slowly found quite a few of the people I went to school with on Facebook. I didn’t add the jerks, but I didn’t have to. Lots of them had the jerks as friends and all I had to do was go to their page in order to learn the true meaning of success.
I was the mousy, ignored, poor and bullied girl I in school. The one who was quite insignificant, couldn’t afford anything, wasn’t well traveled and probably the least remembered in the ranks of awesome. But, here I am, living the life I dreamed of having one day. I may not have been “rich” but where everyone else screwed around, unable or unwilling to pay attention in school, because they were too busy being cool, I poured all my passion and energy into getting good grades. I recognized that the only chance I had to “make it” was to get a great education. And I was right.
I live in California, I travel(ed) the world and I have a career I am passionate about and can’t wait to get up for every day. I look at the pages of these stuck up kids, boys and girls, who have grown as unattractive on the outside, as they used to be on the inside. All of them are now insignificant people, with mediocre jobs and lives, and being as uninspired and miserable as anyone, who felt that it was enough to be cute or hot in high school. NONE of them did anything worth mentioning. Their “fame” and popularity has long faded. There is nothing to envy them about anymore.
I just celebrated my 45th birthday in Hawaii. I stayed at a 5 Star hotel, I swam with dolphins, I snorkeled and I was able to cross two more items off of my bucket list. I paid for it. I worked for it. I earned it. I had no help, no husband who paid for me and no one to kiss up to. What I lacked in popularity and good looks, I made up in wit, intelligence and street smarts. I not only moved out of the white trash life I knew, but I ventured to California, working my way up from a receptionist to a director; and I did it alone. I worked and I succeeded in part because of these people. Because I was told that I was nothing and would never be anything, I fought to prove them all wrong. And I did it with integrity, honesty and kindness. Yes, I sometimes screwed up, but my heart was always in the right spot and I never forgot where I came from.
I didn’t want to be a victim, I didn’t want to be a statistic and I didn’t want to be one of them. I didn’t want to sit on my butt, while whining about how crappy life is and blaming the world, my childhood, my abuse and my sad stories for my short-comings and choices. The douche bags taught me how not to be; in my personal and professional life. With each bully, jerk and unaccountable finger-pointer and victim I’ve met, I learned a little bit more about what not to do. And with each amazing, inspiring and kind person I’ve met, I learned more about the person I aspired to be.
I never gave up and reached every goal I ever set for myself, while still being able to look at myself in the mirror, knowing that I not only worked for what I have, but paid it forward. To this day, the biggest joy for me is helping others and standing up for those less fortunate; for those who don’t have a voice and can’t defend themselves and for those who are bullied.
No, I wasn’t and still am not perfect, but I kept chipping away at creating a life that is meaningful, so I can look back one day and be proud of the things I’ve accomplished and the person I am. I set out to find happiness and joy and I found it. I set out to be a good person, over being a rich person and within doing that became richer than I ever hoped for. Best part? I am not done yet.
Success isn’t measured by the crap we have. I learned that as I sold my house and got rid of almost all my belongings in order to pursue my dream career. On paper, I sure as hell don’t have a lot, but in my heart, mind and spirit, I am wealthier than anyone in my family and anyone I grew up with. I know that when I die, I will have an amazing journey behind me. I know that I have touched and hopefully keep touching, the life of many. I know that I have made a difference for quite a few and I know that I am emotionally, mentally and spiritually wealthy beyond measure. Now that is true success. For each person that wronged and hurt me, I have met ten who loved and supported me. I think this is karma at its finest.
So – don’t harbor resentment and regret. Don’t dwell on the naysayers, the jerks and self-centered douche canoes. Don’t engage with the toxic and miserable ones, but know that there is a price to be paid for all our actions; and doing it right, i.e. standing in honesty, integrity, kindness and decency pays off – if not sooner, than definitely later.
Growing up, the bullies may have been popular, prettier, thinner and “richer” than me. But today, they are just people. People who reaped what they’ve sowed. I am proudly proclaiming that I am reaping what I’ve sowed. Next time someone puts you down, speaks badly about you or treats you unkind, don’t sweat it. Just look at their life and the people in it to understand that they truly and honestly don’t matter. Remember that happy begets happy, successful begets successful and misery loves company. Just smile and say “thank you.”