I’m sure you have met him at least once in your life. I know I met him many times.
Our first encounter was on the school playground. He pushed me off the swing and told me I needed to go play somewhere else. Yes him the bully. That’s when we first met and he seems to resurrect at different stages of my life.
Later he morphed into a pimple ridden hormonal teenager. The god of coolness. The one who judged who belonged and who was cool and in. The “right” clothes, the “right” shoes, the right way to wear your backpack. The dictator was back and this time he had a bit more vocabulary albeit niceties and kindness were not part of them.
After high school I can’t remember seeing him much. I was too busy geecking out on my math books to be very social anyway so I had a couple of years of respite . That is until I had children…
Yes he came back this time as the self-righteous mother. The one with very strong ideas on parenting. The one who was happy to share them with the world or shove it down its throat. Depending on who you ask.
It didn’t matter if she ferberized or co-slept, ate organic or luncheables was her definition of a nutritious meal. She could have one kid or many more. She could be staying home or working. It didn’t really matter. Her way was the only way! again she decided what was good and bad parenting. She could stare you down from the other side of the park if she thought you lacked in parenting skills.
The truth is at first she scared me, really who wants to deal with her. I couldn’t stand up to the bullying no more than I did when I was 6 or 16. I am scared of bullies, i just can’t deal with them. I wanted to fit in, I longed to belong to the inner circle. So I became that person for a little while. The one that judges other moms performances. Her child was whining, well she wasn’t firm enough. She handed her son a bag of Cheetos, oohhh! she works full-time, who is with the kids? she is home and hired a helper, really what did she do with her days. Ugly, plain ugly!
I never said anything but I judged a lot. I did that until I realized my insecurities were making me behave that way. I was seeking validation so I judged. How could my decisions be the right ones if they were different from others. I have become wiser since, I have a different view now. If you love your kids and tell them I am on your side.
Deciding to be part of the generous hearts was much more fun .The one that helps you wipe the sand of your shirt after you were pushed from the swing. The one that smiles at you in high school and with whom you share laughs and jokes. The one that smiles when your child throws a tantrum at the cash register and tells you mine did just the same. I am part of the sisterhood and I stay away from the bullies. They have too much negative juju around them.
Peace lasted a little time until I started hanging out in photography forums. This time the bully came back with a vengeance because now he/she could hide behind a screen. At the drum of “faux-tographers” and “MWAC” (mother with a camera in plain english) and other names. Yes he was back. The skin color patrol, the exposure patrol, the blown highlight patrol, the I know better and I will beat you down to submission team. This bully’s natural habitat is the photography forums and he feasts on newbies. He will even start a public flocking on Facebook or Twitter. Bully on steroid.
Life is full of choices. some are trivial: blue or black shirt. Some are more important.This time I had to choose on what side of the fence I wanted to be as a budding photographer. Be generous and kind or morph into the bully. the decision came in stages because when you are insecure about life or your work it can be hard.
Then I met (virtually or in person) extremely talented and generous people in the business. People who despite their fame or success took the time to talk to the freshmen not cut their teeth on them. They answered questions with generosity of heart. I think of people like Matthew Jordan Smith or Zack Arias, Rachel Devine, Becky Earl or Jonathan Canlas…just to name a few. the beauty of their work is only surpassed by their generosity.
This time again I choose the nice kids and shame on the bullies.