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  • To Be Mean or Not to Be Mean: You Are the One Who Gets to Choose

    I was grazing on Facebook recently and came across the picture of a very young girl with glasses so big that they covered most of her face. She was so cute: She looked like an adorable little bug! The photo caption mentioned that other kids were bullying her, because of her brand-new glasses, and her feelings were hurt. The caption went on to say that, because she was being teased, the little girl no longer wanted to wear her glasses, which she needed to wear.

    There I was, literally caught with my pants
    down, with no chance to escape or argue, and
    the older girls were making fun of me.

    When I was very young, and so slim you couldn’t tell if I was a boy or a girl, I also got teased. Once, when I was in a bathroom stall at the mall, some older gals stood on the toilets on each side of me and peered over the top, to harass me. “Boys aren’t allowed in the girl’s room!” they said. They knew I was a young girl, and I dressed like a tomboy, but they thought it was funny to scare me like that. There I was, literally caught with my pants down and sitting on the toilet, with no chance to escape or argue, and they were making fun of me.

    Another time, in high school, I once again became the target of mean girls. Riding on the public bus to school one day, minding my own business, two much older and larger gals, sitting on either side of me, called me a lesbian. I didn’t know what that meant, but from their stares and tone of voice, I knew it couldn’t be a good thing! They were relentless for weeks, as I rode the bus to school each day. I became so frightened of them that eventually I decided to walk the last 2 miles to school, just to avoid them.

    But the bus wasn’t the only place I was bullied. My slim, toned body and lack of boobs made me the target of the day on campus. I cried many times but never told my parents, because I was ashamed to let them know I may have been a lesbian, and that just didn’t sound good. Karma has its way of turning the cards, however, and eventually a gal at school, who caught me crying and asked the right “when and who” questions, somehow stopped them from coming near me. I don’t know what she did or said, but I was and am forever grateful.

    Many people have had similar experiences growing up, and it is probably the norm, I guess. To be picked on, as my mother would say, “means they are paying attention to you.” I suppose there’s some comfort in that. And the irony is, after menopause and weight gain, I finally grew boobs (and a belly), so no one mistakes me for a guy anymore. But the mean girls (and guys) are still at it, so it seems. And age still doesn’t matter, because mean is mean is mean.

    Who cares if you wear big glasses,
    or dress like a tomboy, or think purple boas
    are your thing. Don’t let the mean
    people change you one bit.

    I am an accomplished and beautiful and smart woman, and I am proud of that. It didn’t come easy, and I continue to work on myself today. I may not be as thin as I once was, and the lord knows I’ve earned my wrinkles, but I am proud of who I am. You should be, too.

    Who cares if you wear big glasses, or dress like a tomboy, or think purple boas are your thing. Don’t let the mean people change you one bit, and don’t buy into their hate. It’s not about you or me, it’s about them — they don’t like life very much, so they choose to be mean. Life is all about making choices, and you can choose to be nice, and happy with what you have, and who you are or who you choose to love. Etc. Or you can choose to live another way. Remember that: You are the one who gets to choose.

    Judith E. (“Judy”) Antisdel is Founder and President of AT Direct in Baltimore, Md. She has earned professional designations ranging from US Postal Service Non Profit Specialist to US Postal Service Mail Manager. She is a frequent guest speaker at symposia and workshops offered by the federal government and various non-profit organizations. Connect with Judy on LinkedIn and find more info at her website.

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