As a diverse society, we develop different strategies to fit in with the wide variety of people we come into contact with. This goes back to our childhood, to our parents’ parenting and to our experiences: from our parents to their parents, through the generations and through the environments they grew up in.
For example, a child who is particularly bright may be picked on because of his or her abilities in school, or the child with a disability may be picked on because he or she looks different.
The child who is picked on because he or she is particularly bright may work hard at home, but give the impression that in school, he or she is like everyone else. A child with a disability may see their disability as someone else’s problem, if they feel secure. But if they are insecure, they may see themselves as the problem.
We all have different coping mechanisms. As individuals we are unique, but these situations aren’t. Where some of us will work relentlessly through our challenges, others won’t and will start to blame others. My coping mechanism was to emotionally withdraw.
I don’t remember if I was bullied for being different, but I do remember feeling isolated and being stared at in and out of school, because I physically presented differently to everyone else.
Given all my difficulties, I struggled with school, homework and exams. In school, I struggled to fit in and keep up with my school work, and although I didn’t give up on school, school gave up on me.
For many years I carried the guilt because I saw myself as being responsible for those failings. Now when I look back, I reconcile and know my failings had nothing to do with me. They were neither my fault, nor my responsibility.