But that's not what I'm thinking about today. I'm thinking about bullying.
There's lots of talk about it all around me. Reactionary-type talk mostly. Some of it that is labeled bullying mostly seems like a difference of opinion. Some of it is flagrant and mean.
I was bullied only for one short period of time in my childhood. I mentioned in a previous post that I played the trombone. When I first started playing I was in the 5th grade and actually had to carry that thing to school every day. I bet it wasn't as far as my memory is telling me, but it was a bit of a jaunt.
It was winter and I was in the 6th grade. And carrying my trombone to and from school on a daily basis. By this point I was fairly used to the walk, but I had caught the eye of a couple of my classmates. Let's call them Bubba and Goofus.
They started following me and poking fun at me. Running around me, saying incredibly clever things like, "Uh, a GIRL playing trombone! Bet you can't slide that thing in here." Following too close, running in front of me. Just being little assholes.
Up until then I had been pretty happy playing the trombone. I was first chair (can you even believe?) and enjoying the whole thing very much.
These two little miscreants were making me miserable though. And making me second guess my choice. I started wishing I played the flute. Something I could tuck safely and securely into my book bag.
But after a week or two of this shit I slugged Bubba hard with the damn thing. Right in his ass if memory serves. His momma called my house that night insisting I was mean and had "broken blood vessels" in her poor boy. I got in pretty bad trouble with my parents. I later finally figured out that he had a bruise. Poor little bully. But I never did see those two on my walk again.
I felt terrible about the whole thing though. Even though those two had made a couple weeks of my life fairly miserable, I felt guilty that I had struck back. My dad had said something along the lines that "ladies don't behave that way." I never really figured out what I was supposed to do. And what I had done was effective wasn't it? But I still felt guilty.
There's a book that was recently published I want to read, Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. I haven't read it yet, but it was pointed out to me that one of the things she's been saying is that as a young girl she was told that she was bossy. It made me think of the messaging I had received as a young girl.
I have always loved to lean in. A few times in my life I have totally leaned in. I joke constantly that I am bossy and controlling. I know what I like and like what I want. Deep back in me I wasn't certain if this is the way I should be. Girls are soft and nice and not bossy. Guess what? I'm soft, nice, and bossy. I temper my bossy with humor, self-deprecation, and underlying smarts. Yes, I am smart. I am bossy. I am a woman.
I don't like it when I see women back down from an opinion because they are reticent to look less than nice. Sometimes we need to step up, lean in, and hit that damn bully with our trombone. If it leaves a few bruises, well then that guy can lean in.