Bullied for Burying My Beak in a Book

I grew up in the days before Harry Potter, but in retrospect, I’ve been a Ravenclaw pretty much from the get-go.

I learned to read at a very young age, by all accounts, and was deep into the likes of Tom Swift and Choose Your Own Adventure by the time elementary school rolled around. I was also in a home where I was fortunate enough to get in early on the video game trend. We had an Atari 2600, followed closely by an NES, and even a Sega Genesis a couple of years later. Our house was a neutral territory in the console wars.

Anyway, I was a pretty massive nerd.

I attended an elementary school in an area and a district that was both fairly affluent and focused on the development and achievements of scholastic athletics — especially football. It didn’t become apparent that this was the underlying motivation of most parenting until junior high, but the groundwork for the stratification of athletic kids above non-athletic kids was laid in elementary school. I had my beak in a book pretty often, I asked questions during class, and I got along with my teachers even when I wasn’t getting straight-A grades (which I did more often than note in those early years).

For this, I was bullied.

I found it very difficult to stand up for myself. I didn’t want to engage with my bullies; I just wanted to be left alone with my fantasy realms and my family. My sisters, more than once, had to intervene on my behalf. My little sister, on one occasion, ran off bullies pursuing me as I got off the bus.

I was raised in a house with my mother, two sisters, and my grandmother. Incidents like that one taught me not only to respect women (as some would say now, ‘those who identify as female’), but that I could turn to them for strength and safety. In particular, with my sisters at my back, I feel like I could handle just about anything.

Which is why what happened next was so completely devastating.

I don’t feel I need to dwell on this particular subject — being bullied as a child — for very long, as it was so minor in the grand scheme of things. But it’s entirely possible that these experiences echoed into my modern Personas. It could be that, when faced with peer pressure or a group of people putting me in an antagonistic light, I would disconnect and retreat rather than engage or insist upon my own point of view being considered, my experiences and feelings seen as valid. I don’t want to be bullied again; when things approach the level of being bullied, I distance myself from the experience, from those people doing the bullying, or what I see as bullying.

That, at least, is my perspective and experience. Take it for what you will.


This is a series I’m doing on my upbringing, experiences, and how they might have influenced the person I am today. None of this is intended as making excuses for decisions I’ve made; I am trying to delve into my past to better define my future, and make better choices that do not lead to the disasters I’ve faced in recent years.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesdays are for telling my story.

1 Comment

  1. I love this, Josh! And yes, your sisters always had your back. There were occasions when I would be in the same room as the mothers of your tormentors, and it took every ounce of will power in me not to excoriate them for the bullies they were raising. But I always feared that that would only make the bullying worse, and so your dad and I tried to reinforce the “don’t hit back” behavior that you always exhibited. I’m confident that you turned out better as a man than any of your tormentors.

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