Are you a bully? You’re mostly likely saying no. Well, um, prepare yourself for an awkward moment of self-revelation served cold with a side of I Did Not See that Coming. You’re still skeptical, aren’t you. That’s okay. I’m not going to bully you. I’ll let this quiz do my convincing for me. Please go ahead. Take this quick, eight-question test. We’ll talk when you’re done.
Pencils ready? Please respond with a T for True and an F for False.
The “Am I a Bully?” Quiz
- _____ I encourage my writing friend to invest hours trolling Facebook, especially when I know awards or “best of” lists are being announced so she can look for her name and not see it there.
- _____ When a rejection letter arrives, I help my friend dissect it, looking for any nuance that suggests this was a personal rejection and a comment on her chances of ever selling this manuscript in any form, both existing and those yet to be created, anywhere in the known universe.
- _____ I help my friend do side-by-side comparisons of her writing journey with that of someone else, all the while posing questions like “How old was he when he sold his first book?” “You know you should be a lot further along by now, right?” “Did you know he writes 9,000 words a day?”
- _____ If my friend says she’ll never be published, I affirm her in her fears with a hearty, “You betcha!”
- _____ If I suspect my friend may be hoarding Rubbermaid® tubs of jealousy under her chocolate hamper, I am swift to shift into shame mode and toss out words like immature, sophomoric and baby doodoo head.
- _____ When my agent-less friend learns one of her friends got an agent, I read and re-read the announcement aloud to her using a fancy British accent. Once it’s tattooed on her gray matter, we move on to making a list of the reasons an agent will never-ever-ever want to represent someone like her.
- _____ When my friend complains that all of her ideas are lame, I protest and correct her by saying, I see them as derivative, tired and utterly unappealing.
- _____ When my friend compares her rough draft with the edited/polished/published work of her favorite author, I fail to point out the unfair comparison while we drive to the store for more Cherry Garcia.
You answered F on every one, didn’t you.
But, my dearest buttered English muffin with apricot preserves, you are a bully. Every time you belittle yourself, blame yourself for having human emotions like jealousy or sadness, or torture yourself by comparing your unique journey to that of someone else, you are bullying you. Are you seein’ what I’m sayin’?
For the love of ampersands, stop.
Oh, I know it’s not that easy. It’s not easy at all. But if you can’t be your own defender, who can be? Start today by being mindful of the words you say to yourself. Instead of damning jabs, try using the sweet, consoling, empathetic words you give to others. Seek the company of encouraging people. Go on a 48-hour Facebook fast. Be BIG and send a worthy someone a note of congratulations. Be real about your disappointments. Celebrate even small victories.
And remember, my little former self-bully, even now, you are making some people sick with jealousy just by being you. Now, doesn’t that make you feel better? You betcha!
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. ~ Desmond Tutu