There was a time I was perceived as too skinny. To many, this might seem comical. Yet there I was, as an eight grader, standing in a waterpark in Coon Rapids being berated for my body. “Dude, are you anorexic?” was one of the rude and hurtful sentiments purported to me. This question, by some guy who appeared a few years older than I, ruined my day. I stood there in the shallow end, legs shaking, unable to move as I held back tears. My brother approached me and asked why I was just standing there. I didn’t even attempt to respond. I slowly meandered back to the sunbeds and wallowed in my own pity, ruining what was otherwise a splendid day.
This story is not meant to scare anyone or make anyone think that I’m now a social vigilante. Rather, it is an indictment of how much the truth hurts. Granted, I could make the argument that I wasn’t THAT skinny, but I was very thin, so it’s not like the guy was spouting off something hyper-exaggerated. At the time I didn’t realize it, but he was right in his comments, however rude they were.
The reality is that people don’t like hearing the truth, specifically when it concerns them personally. Steve is struggling in biology class and needs to pick it up. He knows that, and so do I, but Steve doesn’t want me to say anything. He would rather it linger until the subject is forgotten. The same thing goes for Louie and his beer gut. I’m not trying to condone being mean or anyone going out of their way to point out hurtful truisms. I’m simply saying be proud of who you are. So Louie has a beer gut, but who cares? If the answer isn’t Louie, then neither should anyone else. I’ve learned from various insults thrown my way over the years that the best repellent is to be able to laugh at your mistakes. It’s cliché, but people just aren’t going to be rude to someone they know won’t think twice about what they just said. As my good friend Mason recently told me, “you’ve got to own it,” meaning you have to accept responsibility. If I could have disregarded all the pain I was feeling at the waterpark that day I would have told the guy, “You’re right,” laughed, and moved on with my day. Instead, he saw what he said hurt me and it made him feel better. Had he not received that satisfaction, I might not be writing this post today.
There are always going to be people that deem it necessary to ridicule others. They’re as inevitable as death and taxes, but they can also be the source of some incredible motivation. Embrace the negativity, and feel flattered that someone took the time out of their day to give you attention.
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