Without going into too much detail, this past year has been a tough one for me. Career-wise, I hit a huge brick wall last Fall. Depression has reared its ugly head quite often in the last year.
Recently, I’ve started seeing a counsellor again. So far, it’s gone well. During my last session, I had a revelation about myself that explains one of my passions. People who have visited this blog have seen articles such as this regarding social injustice. Just today, my blood boiled reading about a woman’s account of cosplaying (dressing up as a character) at a convention.
It’s always upset me to see people mistreated. This goes for women being objectified, gays and transgender struggling just to be considered equal, or someone of a different race being unjustly treated. Thanks to my recent revelation, I’ve realized why. Let me explain.
When I was growing up, I was relentlessly bullied, most especially in Junior High and – to a lesser degree – High School. I would most assuredly not part of the “cool crowd.” Day after day, I was bullied in my own neighbourhood, on the bus to and from school, at school, after school, and any time I even left the house. The kids that populated my neighbourhood were all kids that picked on me, so it got to the point that I almost didn’t even want to leave the house. Which didn’t help because they would also prank call me.
So to say that I know what it’s like to be downtrodden and persecuted just because I happened to enjoy things like comic books and video games, not to mention being fat and not good looking. The cool, popular kids all played sports, which is probably also why I shied away from it to the point of disinterest today.
I’ve felt like a complete loser most of my life and still do on some days. As I type, I’m drinking out of a giant plastic Green Lantern cup that I got at the theatre (the movie stinks, but I love those giant cups). My university graduation photo has me ripping open my shirt to reveal a Superman shirt. Most times? I’m proud of the nerdy things that surround me. But there’s always that niggling part of me that remembers the bullies who mocked me.
I’d like to consider myself generally a “good guy.” I don’t actively try to hurt someone’s feelings and try to respect everyone. Of course, memory is a funny thing and I’m sure others in the past have thought I was an asshole or something in situations. I’m certain there are numerous times in my life I’ve screwed up. I’d like to believe I don’t have a malicious bone in my body, even if I may done or said malicious things unintentionally.
But I’ve always tried to do right by other people. I support all forms of equality because I know what it’s like not to be treated equal by my peers. Even friends in High School treated me as the group’s idiot sometimes, such as a time when a girl liked one of my friends. When I said it was pretty obvious, someone said, “Well, if Nick sees it, it must be true!” I know now that they don’t see me as an idiot, but comments like that did get to me sometimes.
What bothers me most these days is a similar feeling of non-inclusiveness. Whenever I read, see, or hear about social injustice for a minority or the opposite gender, it boils my blood. The bullying I suffered and the scars left behind make me much more empathetic to the ongoing battle for women’s rights, gay rights, and racial minority rights. In my opinion, there shouldn’t even be an issue for equality. It simply should be equal.
During my counselling session, I started crying because I can’t understand why anyone would feel the need to be so openly cruel to someone else. Why they can’t look at it from that person’s point of view. It upsets me when I hear stories like a transgendered person beaten horribly in a bathroom and then pissed on by their attackers. Why? How? How could anyone actually do that to another human being?
When my counsellor mentioned the link between my passion for social justice and my bullying, I almost laughed. Not because she was wrong, but because I couldn’t believe I’d never seen it before, myself. It’s no wonder that I get upset when I hear about someone fighting for equal rights or to be included into “normal” society: I know exactly how that feels.
Even today, I still feel like an outsider because I don’t do things the same as the majority of people. I prefer urban cycling to even considering the idea of owning a car. I still love comics and all things nerdy, to the point of having a Superman wallet or reading a comic book in public regardless of the looks people might give me. Obviously, enjoying certain areas of entertainment or leading a different lifestyle in terms of transportation is wildly different from being a different race or gender, but the feeling of being an outsider or being made fun of for being different is a feeling that man can share.
To me, social injustice and those people who fight to hold down the equality of others is no different than bullying.