It’s amazing what experiences stick with you. We are told that the positive ones should be embraced but the ones that make you sad should, generally, be dismissed. Contrary to this, today I will try and harness one of the most miserable times of my existence. Why? Because I want to take ownership of a negative time in my life and, potentially, help someone else along the way. That might be you reading this now. You may have stumbled across this blog and then idly read the next few paragraphs only to find a simple positive message encapsulated in my crude use of the English language. Best get to a point.
In 2003 I was sat in my university hall listening to a track from the American Beauty soundtrack. Whilst listening I was also crying, alone, in my bedroom. I had this song on repeat and was trying to rationalise the utterly torrid time I was enduring. You see, after a positive two weeks connecting with my flat mates I then found myself mocked and isolated. I had been picked on before in my life but I had never experienced the utter isolation that you feel when you are 150 miles away from home and surrounded by people that seem to hate you. My faults turned out to be my quirks, my unique characteristics that made me the human I am today. The human that has supported loved ones, rallied those in need and helped almost every deserving person I know. But I was dirt to them; a plaything for their ignorance and my misery something to be toyed with and then discarded. For the first time in my life I felt utterly useless and totally alone. At my lowest moment the music that I was listening to reached a crescendo, my sadness amplified by the haunting sounds that thrummed from my speakers. I heard a knock at the door and knew I had nothing to hide; my pride was shot and the person outside could embrace my sadness in whatever way they wanted. I opened the door to be greeted by my greatest tormentor. I stood there, eyes red through tears, waiting for the next pain to be inflicted yet hoping for this captain of sorrow to simply help me. She spoke and the words still cut into me till this day, “can you turn the music down please”. There was a glimmer of concern from her but not enough to truly care. Dejected I retreated to my room and did as I was bid to do; the music went down and I carried on crying. I felt wretched.
Things changed swiftly after that; most likely thanks to the impact my tears had on my house mate. I was given a free pass to hang out with my tormentors boyfriend and some other friends of his; friends who had once gladly bullied me and allowed me to suffer. Nevertheless I grasped at the possibility of proving my worth and was rewarded with drunken compliments and respect from ‘the boys’. After that my relationship with my house mates and their network continued to evolve. I was embrace by those around me and my flaws, my house mates issues, were finally spelled out to me for me to learn from. These flaws turned out to be pathetically minor – my turns of phrase, my quirkiness, the things that made me who I am. I swallowed the last part of my pride and allowed myself to acknowledge that these ‘quirks’ were a little odd but that I was thankful that we were finally all getting along. I rang my parents that night and explained to them that as pathetic as their rational was, I would forgive the bullying in order to forge better friendships.
By the end of uni my chief tormentor had fallen in love with me. Her boyfriend ended up humiliated by her drunken antics and they broke up. The networks that had existed at the start of university crumbled and I ended up in a position where I was universally loved and respected. Though I never realised it at the time I had become a bit of a a bastion to my friends. Someone who was morally correct, loyal to a fault and forgiving to those who had faltered. The greatest thing that I learnt at university was that people make mistakes but how we recover from those failures is what makes us truly brilliant. Most of my first year house mates were simply trying to survive in a hostile environment. They were alone and desperate to find their place. Sadly their bonding was partially formed around a mutual dislike of ‘the quirky one’ in the flat but, as I have moved on from those days I can actually appreciate how hard things were for them too.
If you are currently suffering at university, at work or wherever just to take a moment to reflect on your situation and then take action. I failed to and circumstances changed only by accidentally exposing my house mate to the sadness I was feeling; had she not knocked on my door then things would have continued. I would always suggest taking action to change a negative situation and, unless you are a monumental dick, you shouldn’t change who you are.
Just remember that you are a pretty awesome human being with the talent and potential to achieve so much. Most importantly, don’t let the bastards grind you down.