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.
May 14, 2012 at 00:15
this resonates so much. thank you for sharing. my life transformed when I chose, at 16, to start again in an educational environment containing nobody I already knew. it was an opportunity to begin again with a blank canvas and make what I wanted of a pure, unsullied future.
each of us have such a future, right in front of us, right now. i remind myself – and others – of this when the days are darkest.
May 14, 2012 at 07:54
You are welcome. I was also 16 when I switched schools (also knew no one at the second school – what a difference!)
May 14, 2012 at 00:17
Wonderful story and insight…with the bullying going on today I’m not sure teachers at the higher levels are teaching or reacting to the intolerance by some…however, in my province anyway younger children are being taught that bullying is wrong..hopefully when their generation is older the statistics will maybe improve….Diane
May 14, 2012 at 07:53
Yes, so very true (unfortunately). Bullying seems to be a “right of passage” in middle school, but it is a right of passage and developmental stage that we can greatly curb as adults in education if we make the effort to.
May 14, 2012 at 03:14
what an awesome perspective i had never thought of and it directly applies to a situation in my life that took place not long ago…thank you, you can’t know how this perspective has helped!
May 14, 2012 at 07:51
You are welcome! 🙂
May 14, 2012 at 03:24
Another wonderful thought provoking post. I totally agree about how a personal situation can lead you to want to hide. Having been through something quite similar to this I know how to blend in with the background but have also learned that sometimes you have to stand out against the crowd. When I was a child/teenager I would have done ANYTHING to change my world. Absolutely anything to get out of where I was. I now know that everything that happened to me over that period of time shaped me and made me who I am today. What was devastating then has shaped my character today and I no longer feel resentment or anger towards family, school etc. I know I was a square peg in a round hole as well and the further into society we go the more we realise that we are not alone but there are so many other people out there who are like us. Social media has done a lot to allow those of us who don’t feel like we fit in to our environment to be able to reach out and discover other people like ourselves. I am happier now than I have ever been in all of my life and I wouldn’t change my past life because it is always there to act as a yardstick to measure my present day happiness against. They say that it’s only through making mistakes and failing that you actually learn and I figure that it’s only living through hardship and personal crisis that you are able to appreciate the difference. I wonder what we are all going to do when you DO turn 40 and no longer present us with these daily thought provoking posts?…hmmmmm…..
May 14, 2012 at 07:52
Very good point about the fact that our past experiences mold us to be the people we are today. Don’t worry, I will not disappear when I turn 40… but perhaps the writing will slow down a bit! 🙂
May 14, 2012 at 08:26
May 14, 2012 at 12:12
Nice post, glad you found a place where you fit in. 🙂
Never really was “bullied” in the traditional sense myself, mostly because even as a kid I had this wierd ability where some of the most popular kids in school (just one or 2) were my friends and we hung out both in school and out of (still do actually) but they all had their friends circles all their own. I’ve always been a bit of a loner – lots of friends, but my circle consists of a bunch of people with their own circles who love hanging out together but their common thread is basically me.
But I digress, the bullies were confounded I think because you don’t want the “cool” kids pissed at you and I was never bothered by the taunting (that I let on, I was always a bit cerebral that way) and would give them smart-ass comments back that they couldn’t think of responses to or would just smile and walk away when I couldn’t be bothered to deal with them.
Mostly I was a happy enough kid with few cares – though its only the last few years, now as an adult, that I’ve found that space which you refer to where you fit in and have like minds around. Mostly it has to do with the slow growth and development of the creative community and all which has given me readers, artists, fellow writers and others to interact with and not either dumb down or seem condescending by default.
I don’t try to look down or seem smug or anything, but some of the utter nonsense and drivel that my generation talks about and the materially-obsessed and such stuff just drives me up the wall.
May 14, 2012 at 22:59
I can so relate to your last sentence. I have always found that I did not fit well with my own generation….. most of my good friends have always been at least one generation older than I am — that has helped a lot when I have worked to forge healthier relationships. 🙂
May 15, 2012 at 10:47
I know what you mean – though age is relative I find, more and more I’m gravitating to a mixed bag that includes folks over a decade older, some a few years younger than me, it all seems to be coming down to intellectual capacity and compatibility really.
Not to insult anyones intelligence, but I suppose with progress and awareness growing, the gaps in intellenct and interest and a combination of the two is bound to feel more prominent in some ways.
May 15, 2012 at 22:55
May 14, 2012 at 16:09
Wow…it sure seems like our upbringing was similar. My form of hiding was that I used to climb trees and watch people go about their activities from above. You were very lucky to find a better environment when you did; I had to wait until I got out into the world…a much bigger more exciting world than my small town, where I didn’t feel as “good” as everyone else.
You are doing a great job here!
May 14, 2012 at 22:58
When I was really young (elementary school) I also had a tree I hid in… I LOVED that tree! In fact, I was so sad to learn that after my childhood home was sold the new owners tore that tree down :(. Yes, I was very lucky to get into a new environment before the end of high school – it really saved my sanity at the time.
May 14, 2012 at 22:26
You are an incredibly gifted and insightful writer. I’m sorry that you had to experience such difficult things, but love how you are able to turn them into life lessons. Bravo!
May 14, 2012 at 22:56
Thank you so much for your kind words!
May 15, 2012 at 07:51
Very interesting again – you always … issues that we all can relate too – doesn’t matter where we are or where we live. I personal want to to hide – when I don’t feel well – hide and lick my wounds.
May 15, 2012 at 08:52
Yes, I think we all want to hide in some moments…… instinct.
The World Is My Cuttlefish
May 15, 2012 at 17:07
That our problems may be due to environment, not ourselves is an important message to pass on to children. Would hearing that have given you any comfort at the time though, thinking that you simply had to endure and not knowing change would come?
May 15, 2012 at 22:54
I agree…. I am not sure hearing that it was not me would have made a difference, but perhaps if my parents really understood that they would have changed my environment and that would have made a huge difference.