Actually I ran away from school when I was 13. No one could find me, and the police were called. I was just hiding in a little thicket of grass at my school, and went to sleep. ~ Zhang Ziyi
When I was about 13 I wanted to hide too. I was one of those kids who was constantly picked on and tormented in junior high (now usually called “middle school”). I had a few close friends who were always kind to me, but the other kids had, for reasons known more to them than me, chosen me as the target of their bullying efforts. I suppose it was because I was an easy target (isn’t that so often the case?)
My family was not the richest in an area full of elite homes, our religion was different from most of the town, we rarely wore designer name brands and we were democrats in the midst of strong republicans. My parents were going through a rough time when we were growing up, for a variety of personal and financial reasons, and I experienced some things children should not have to – all of this to say that I can understand how I would have easily been a target for bullies in a school, children who instinctively knew I was weak, but had no real way of understanding they were kicking a child whose self-esteem was already hurting, a child who was already down…. way down. For quite a few years I wanted to hide. I was lucky because in middle school I had found a few really good friends (some of whom read this blog regularly!) They became my support system that helped me to weather the comments from the others. One good friend can make the difference to a child who wants to disappear.
When I was in eleventh grade I had the option of switching to a new school. I auditioned and was accepted to an Arts high school. It really changed my life. Suddenly I was not in the minority – all the other kids were like me – deeply connected to feelings, of all races, religions and backgrounds, and mostly democrats! Suddenly I went from being that lonely, unpopular child to being elected to student government by my peers. In that moment I realized the issue with my loneliness had actually not been me, I was in the wrong environment. I no longer wanted to hide, I was finally able to come of out my shell, I was able to be that flower that could open up and blossom.
Why do I relate this story? There are times in our lives when we all want to hide. Sometimes it is related to us. We do something stupid/ embarrassing/ etc. and we need to right a wrong. In those moments we want to hide, to turn back time, to be able to undo that which we wish we had not. However, there are also times when we want to hide as a result of forces that are really out of our control. In those moments, sometimes, we need to be able to step back and realize that it may not be us, it may not even be the people around us, it may just be a wrong match. There was nothing wrong with the students who attended my middle school. I was as alien to them as they were to me, I am sure that was another reason they chose to pick on me. They were not so tolerant, and I hope that the school teaches more tolerance today, but they were not bad kids. I did find that when I was in the right environment, with people of like interests, I no longer felt the need to hide, to disappear.
If you feel the need to hide, ask yourself why. Be honest with yourself about where you are in life and the people that surround you. If you made mistakes, have the courage to right them. If you are misplaced in your environment, consider mustering up the courage to look for a better fit…… in the long run you will be happier if you find it.