The only thing that can quickly bring about tears from me is thinking of the experience of overweight kids today in school. I am curious as to how it is in schools today. Are there more overweight kids now? If there are more overweight kids, then they might fit in more. Since there is a lot of information available as to better ways to eat, are there less overweight kids because the parents are more aware? Or is this going in a worse direction? I don’t know because I haven’t visited elementary schools in a long time.
It really hits home for me, because if their experience is anything like my experience, it can really effect them long term. During my elementary years in school, all the teasing just made me just want to isolate myself from everyone. I couldn’t stand going to school, and I was angry at being forced to have to keep going. I think I gravitated towards eating because it was at least some pleasure I could experience without thinking about being made fun of. I could at least let my guard down around food…and also on my own driveway with my basketball goal, because playing basketball at school I was made fun of more. I didn’t ever find a satisfactory solution in school either…as in…one that seemed aligned with what’s right.
I also felt pretty powerless to change this aspect of myself. I just wanted to be a normal-sized kid and have a great time, but that was definitely not my experience. There were some horrifically bad experiences, and many of the bad experiences of overweight kids that are used for entertainment in TV shows and movies are true. Being in PE and just not being able to do any exercise that most other kids were doing easily. Going to doctors offices and having them embarrass me and not give me any real solutions when they were paid to do this. Not being able to fit in clothes and not knowing what weight I was going to be.
So many days of going to school I was getting made fun of, so I used to dread school. I used to try to hide from all the ridicule. Looking back that actually made it worse. I’m glad I didn’t try to go and learn all these insults to go back and forth. It would have never ended and been futile. There are so many fat jokes it’s ridiculous. I might have had to be a Kevin Hart kind of person and build up this library of insults. Think about the amount of people I’d have to bring down to make myself good at the art of “being funny”.
Since I wasn’t as good with words, I did end up fighting a lot. These results weren’t good either! If someone was hurling insults at me, and I wanted them to stop and they wouldn’t, I would punch them. A fight usually followed that got everyone else hyped up, and if I won the fight it might make them stop with the insults, but it just ignited more fights elsewhere. Other people would see and say “I bet you can’t beat me!” and bam! another instant fight I was scheduled for. It also led to resentment from the loser and this bad feeling that I carried around until it died down. It’s like my ego was gratified, but there was always this inner voice saying that wasn’t the right thing to do. And that’s just if I won the fight. I lost fights too, and it really started to hit home that this way of dealing with ridicule and teasing was not the best way to go. I started losing a lot more fights as people started actually training in middle school for sports, so that meant I would have to train to become stronger and faster as well. I felt like this would be a never-ending cycle if I wanted to solve this problem this way. I couldn’t fight the whole world unless I wanted to take my life in that direction and become a professional fighter or something. That decision would have been purely reactive though – not a conscious one I sat down and made a decision about, but one that was just reacting to being insulted.
What would I say to the “young me” now? (or any kid going through this)
If I were to have a conversation with the young me, I’d say to not resist it. Don’t hide from it. Accept it and keep moving. Give it the least attention as possible. Maybe even call it out from that person…say something like “I don’t want to make fun of you and bring you down to build myself up like you’re doing to me” and stand on that. Don’t lower your consciousness. Don’t contract – expand! Make that person and others aware of their actions, and expose it as much as possible. Refuse to play the game of going back and forth with insults. Invest in other people and volunteer to help them. Instead of contracting and trying to hide from the ridicule, take responsibility for it and lift other people up. Maybe even lift that person up that ridiculed you. If he’s bringing you down with hurtful insults and teasing for no reason, chances are things aren’t going so well for him. Swing the pendulum towards investing in others. I might even say do volunteer work outside and/or inside of school.
That’s a lot to ask of a kid, and it’s very counterintuitive, but I think that approach would have garnered a lot less ridicule and much more respect and support and would have built some great habits that would have served me throughout the rest of my life.