I Declined

I recently received an invitation to a party commemorating the 50th anniversary of my high school graduating class.  I politely declined.

My time in middle/high school was, for me, the worst episode of my life.  For whatever reason, although I wanted to have friends, I didn’t have any until around my junior year.  I tried hard to make friends, much like an overly zealous puppy, but never seemed to make any breakthroughs.  The niche I managed to fill throughout most of my middle/high school career was as the object of bullying and ridicule.  This was mostly a daily occurrence for me.  I was repeatedly slugged in the arm, and humiliated in front of other students.  I continued to try to hang out with the guys bent on making my life miserable.  They seemed adept at tossing a crumb of friendship my way often enough to keep my hopes up, and then using their power to grind me into the dirt.  The adults running the school, along with my parents, where no help. 

There does appear to be a couple of kinds of people in the world; those that enjoyed their middle/high school careers, made friends, and eagerly anticipate reconnecting with these old friends every so often, and those that would just as soon forget the whole experience, and all the people that worked so hard to build themselves up by trashing the weaker among them.  I throw in my lot with the latter.

I’ve often wondered, what is in it for them?  It must take a lot of time and energy to bully others.  Does the bully get pleasure from the event, even though it is repeated over and over?  I came up with one possible answer, one that surprised me and might surprise you.  Adolescent years are in place to prepare children for navigating the adult world.  That world is populated with people of every personality type.  A fact of life is that throughout one’s existence there will be people with power over you.  How you react when that power is wielded, whether fairly or not, can be a factor in your success in life.  Maybe the people like me, little naïve puppies, need to be hardened up so they can navigate the world of adults; a role the bullies played. 

If asked the question, “How do you evaluate your current mental state?”, I’d have to say my mental state is good.  I am confident, feel capable, have taken good care of myself, and feel the work I do is appreciated within my community.  Every person alive was given a set of genes, over which he or she had no control, usually a set of parents, again outside their control, and a cohort of peers.  Each of these has a strong effect on the shaping of a person’s character.  Although my middle/high school years were miserable, like it or not, they did contribute to my development.  And assuming I am content with where I am in life, can I honestly say that the character shaping events that led to today’s Ted were bad?  Unnecessary? 

Any one person’s life is a complicated jumble.  Throw into the mix other people who may be your social subordinates, equals, or superiors, and the complications climb up the chart.  The challenge appears to be, embrace your life’s experiences, because they made you who you are, and try to be a mentor to others if at all possible.  Perhaps the greatest gift you can give to someone is an example.

6 Responses to “I Declined”

  1. Lou Ann McGonagle says:

    So sorry to hear that. I liked you as a person but didn’t associate too much.I wouldride my bike past your house on Adelpha, I think, or Sphar? Would talk a little if you were out playing. So sorry you declined the invite. Life is too short!!

    • admin0 says:

      Hi Lou Ann. We lived on Auburn. I remember you from grade school but not from high school. What do you think I’ll miss by not coming to the reunion?

  2. Carolyn (Candy) Peterson says:

    A friend who is in his 50s told me recently that his “friends” let him fall through the “trust fall” required of his 6th grade class. I told him that I don’t think that would happen today. Children now are taught, from the time they are two years old, that bullying is not OK. I’m 73, and when I was a child, it was just the way the world was: girls gossiped and boys punched. Things are getting better all the time, thank goodness!

    • admin0 says:

      I admire your optimism Candy. After watching folks take sides on masks and social distancing for the past year and a half, I’ve reassessed my optimism. I have trouble imaging the mind of a person thinking it makes them look weak to wear a mask that might protect a friend from a deadly disease. Having friends like you and Rolf causes me to predict more good in humanity than appears to be there, I think.

  3. Patty says:

    My brother Ted!!
    To me you are one of the kindest and compassionate people I know!!!
    I remember those years!! I also wouldn’t want to go back!!!
    Thanks for being my brother and continuing to lead me thru my life
    by your example!
    I think all of us kids Gerry, Ted, Patty ( I hope ) and Howard 11 make our whole family and quite possibly the world proud!!!
    Thank you for writing this!!! It couldn’t have been easy to live thru this again!!!
    Love, SIS

    • admin0 says:

      Thank-you for the kind words Patty. Yes you were right there with me through all the madness. Back then, I wish I could have looked into a magic mirror and seen the future. I would have known that all I had to do was hang in there through the hardship, and I’d find a beautiful mate, get myself educated and a good job, and be able to retire comfortably in one of the prettiest places in the world. Not to mention getting to know my siblings as adults and learning what fine people they were. If the cost of all this was some miserable years in my adolescence, then I guess it was worth it. Ted

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