It’s almost the end of August; that means that for many of you, school will be back in session either about now or within the next couple weeks. I felt that now was the appropriate time to have this discussion. At the very least, I wanted to talk to you before school begins again.
Bullies. We’ve all been there. Even the kids who picked on you have been there. This year, their kids will bully your kids. Every year is the same nonsense. As much as teachers will try to assure you that they are doing everything they can to prevent it, your kids still come home beaten and battered. So, rather than preaching to the choir again, I’m taking a different approach. Call this radical if you want; call it whatever you want. Instead of trying to reassure you guys – whom I know are emotionally strong enough to handle this mess (you have to be with the ASD diagnosis) – I’m going to reassure the bullies instead. Directly.
Maybe we got off on the wrong foot. Maybe you don’t, or rather, won’t care about a word I have to say, but that’s okay, as long as you hear me out.
We all have struggles. For quite some time, you were mine on the playground. You were a struggle for me in the classroom. You were even a struggle when we weren’t even on school grounds. I don’t know what I personally did to make you so angry at me, but whatever it was, I’d like you to know that if it’s something I can change, I’d gladly do what I can to make things right.
Now, that’s not to say that I’d be willing to change who I am, or who my friends are, or anything intangible like that. But, if I personally said or did something to upset you, I’d like a chance to make amends.
You see, we’re not so different. We’re both human beings, despite how you may view me and/or treat me at the present moment. In fact, everybody is a human being, deserving of the same respect and dignity, regardless of whether or not you feel they’re worthy of them. Yet, you wander through life revoking others’ dignity, treating them with great disrespect.
While I don’t condone that behavior, nor do I necessarily forgive it, per se, I do want you to know that I also don’t believe in holding grudges against people. Grudges take anger to fuel them. Anger consumes energy until there’s nothing left to fuel it. In short, anger drains you; it will leave you withered and exhausted in the long run.
Please, take better care of yourself. Just like that boy you intimidate online because he talked to your girlfriend that one time during lunch, or that girl you body shame because she doesn’t meet your standards of what you think beauty should look like, you are worth more than all that.
And just like you are worth more, so are we all. It’ll become you to treat others with that same promise of respect and dignity that we all want out of life. Who knows? You might even make the best friend of your life out of it.
I don’t need to know what your home life is like. Whether your dad abused you or your step-mom was never there for you when you were younger will make no difference to the people who truly care about you. But if you keep treating people the way you treat them now, very few truly will.
I want you to know that while it doesn’t seem like it now, there are people out there who will truly care if something happens to you. They will notice when you’re not around, and they will treat you with respect and dignity, too.
But that’s a two-way street. You have to give a little to take a little. So, while I don’t tolerate your current behavior as it is now, I see the potential in you that you may not even realize is there. I know you are capable of better than this, and that is why I’m holding you to a higher standard than you are used to being held to.
If you start treating others with humane respect and dignity, I will be willing to move past what you’ve done to me, to so many others like me. I may not believe in holding grudges, but I do believe in second chances.
You, my friend, are worth it.
So, I leave you with two options:
- Squander this opportunity. Ignore everything I just said and live your life in silent misery, alienating everyone who may have otherwise cared about you. Or,
- You can learn from this. Take it to heart and grow, not only socially, but as a decent human being with the ability to sympathize and empathize with your peers. Become a better person today than you were yesterday. Everyday. Learn to laugh. Learn to cry. Most importantly, learn to love. Both yourself and others.
It’s a brand new school year; I’m wiping the slate clean for you. What you do with it is entirely up to you.
Until you make your next decision, I’ll be right here, waiting to be your friend. I hope you’ll be mine, too.