It’s pitch black in my bedroom. My eyes pop open but I can’t see a thing. I reach over to grab my phone and check the time: 4:55 a.m. I’ve been waking up before my alarm goes off these days; it’s quite annoying. I am dreading my feet hitting the ground because once they do, they will be dragging me into an antagonizing work space. Again,
I remember when my morning thoughts used to consist of what I was going to wear that day or what was on my to-do list. But not anymore. I was now greeting the break of dawn with the repeat affirmation of, “shit.”
My new morning meditation and ritual.
You know, it’s interesting that we talk A LOT about kids being bullied in school, but I hear very few conversations about it happening to adults. Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t end when adulthood begins. A lot of us adults deal with “bullying” from people on a daily basis. Perhaps we don’t talk about it because we simply don’t recognize it, but it happens.
While it may look different from one person to another, I am convinced that the source of it is always the same: Most people who pick on others in an attempt to discredit or make them feel less than are doing so to cover up their own insecurities. In most cases, the antagonizers either haven’t found their purpose or they’re just unhappy with their own life circumstances. So what do they do with this anger and frustration about their own lives? Well, they misdirect it of course. It comes straight for you through indirect or direct insults, condescending remarks or perpetrated lies about you. These things can become extremely intense, especially if you are excelling at the very thing they’re failing at in life. You then become the perfect dumping ground for their mess.
Maybe we don’t talk about this often because of the stigma that being bullied makes you weak. I completely disagree and believe the exact opposite. I think the reason people are bullied is because THEY are strong, and the ones doing the bullying can see this clearly. People are either inspired by your strength or intimidated by it. There is no in between.
After I realized what was happening to me and got over the shock of it all, I found it empowering to be able to identify the source of their misguided anger. I had gained an understanding that helped me to cope. I went from being extremely defensive and reactive to feeling sorry for them. Not like the, “I wanna give you a hug” type of sorry but more like a “This is pretty pathetic,” type of sorry. This epiphany became my turning point and it was in this moment that my paradigm shifted.
I can remember talking with a friend on my birthday about my growth over the past year. It was my “aha moment” as Oprah calls it. He asked, “Who in this last year has been your MVP?” I’ll never forget my response. I remember pausing as I scanned my brain past all of the milestones I’d had that year. I thought about my son and a friend who had been there for me through a really tough time. I thought about family members who I had grown close to through being there for one another. I kept thinking until my mind stopped on this chick who was giving me the hardest time at work. And it hit me. She was my MVP.
Now I know you’re thinking, “Why?”. Let me explain.
Disclaimer: If you’re looking to get juicy details about the specifics of my struggles, stop reading here. But if you want to know how I used being bullied to push me towards my purpose, continue reading…
If you stay with me I’d like to share with you the lesson I learned that helped me to appreciate being bullied.
I believe God placed me in this situation to challenge and strengthen my character. There was a part of my personality that would’ve laid dormant had they not challenged it. I’ve always been the type of person to avoid drama at all costs. If you were a difficult person to deal with, I just didn’t deal with you at all. I now realize that method of “dealing” was not one that would help me navigate life very well. I needed to learn how to work with people that I didn’t care for. Battling this long season of bullying felt much like boot camp. It was ugly. I struggled and failed, then eventually climbed out of my feelings and received the lesson in the mess.
There was no way I could move to the next level of my purpose without learning how to deal with difficult people. My reality is that I was called to deal with the difficult. It’s part of my purpose. And while your purpose or lesson may be different from mine, just know the common denominator is that there is something to be learned in every struggle. There is purpose in your mess. There is growth awaiting you if you just push through. Stay focused on your purpose; everything else is simply a distraction.
This season, as challenging as it was to go through, was necessary for my growth. I learned once again to just trust the process and that even in the darkest season, you can still come out shining bright.
Cover image by Terrence Wells
Model: Cassandra Gordon