I was always good at Playing the Game.
That’s what my mother called it. The art of moving among people, saying what needed to be said without being angry or offensive. I internalised emotions. I diffused situations with humour. I remained silent if necessary.
I recognised this at an early age. I noticed some classmates lacked it. My own brother lacked it. Although he was older than me, there were times I came to his defence. Ever the diplomat, me.
One of my favourite of Aesop ‘s fables was The Oak and the Reeds. It’s not as well known as some of them, but it resonated with me. The tale of the old tree than grew with the reeds beside the river. The tree was proud of its strength and size but a great gust of wind tore up the oak from the ground.
The tree wept.
“I don’t understand it. How can something as frail and slender as a reed escape the anger of the wind, while a strong tree has been torn up by its roots?”
The reeds explain the moral of the story.
“Sometimes in order to survive, it is better to give way.”
And this is how I played the game. I stuck to my opinions when they truly mattered and let everything else go. I decided who I respected and who I didn’t – and as to the latter – if I didn’t respect you, why would I about care what you said or thought?
I was so lucky to believe this. To believe this so strongly I left school without enemies and a small group of friends who stood with me.
Though, we are never unbroken.
My insecurities lie in my capabilities. My ability to write, for one. I suffer from anxiety and have developed a habit of surpressing how I feel. Sometimes, I surpress too much.
As an adult looking back, those who ‘broke’ me were adults and/or people I respected.
But the beauty of being an adult is when looking back you realise we are all victims of our lives. We all (mostly) do not intend to sabotage the lives of others but do what we think is best at the time. Then to compound this there are personalities and how two people can take the same experience and interpret it a very different way.
Of course, bullies do intend to sabotage lives, they’ll probably never realise how much. They’ll probably never realise how broken they are themselves.
I was bullied at school but I was always lucky to be a reed.
Day 24 of Nano Poblano! That is, Ra’s version of NaBloPoMo.
We’re posting everyday in the month of November!
When I say ‘we’ I mean these awesome folk.