A while ago I saw something on Twitter that made me kind of angry. I’m aware, by the way, that Twitter isn’t the place to be easily offended, and that’s not what this blog post it about!
It was a tweet that basically said if you had a problem with someone you should take it up with them directly. OK, fair enough. But it also said that anyone who doesn’t do this, who talks about it with someone else, is a bad person.
This made me angry because, while I know it’s not nice to talk behind someone’s back, sometimes it’s the only thing you can do. Those few words made me feel like I was being accused of doing the wrong thing simply because, when I got bullied at school, I took it up with one of the teachers rather than the person themselves, for example.
It’s hard to stand up for yourself directly to the person you’re being hurt by. You can risk all these things I’ve experienced: being physically hurt, receiving threats of violence, making the situation even worse, or perhaps the person turning it all around on you, turning on the fake tears, and making it look like you’re in the wrong. There’s no guarantee that anyone will hear or believe your side.
I got the point of the tweet, and it was a good point. You should always stand up for yourself rather than going behind a person’s back.
But just because you should, doesn’t mean it’s easy. And if you don’t feel strong enough to do that yet, or if you’re scared, that does NOT make you a bad person. Sometimes it is necessary to explain the situation to a teacher, colleague, boss, friend, parent, sibling etc, because you simply can’t handle things on your own. This doesn’t mean you’re being “sneaky” or “back stabbing”, it just means that sometimes things get a little too much, and we can’t all solve problems on our own.
Now on to my apology. I realise I took the tweet too seriously, and that it mightn’t have been meant to hurt anyone, and that made me realise that perhaps my words on this blog have come out the wrong way sometimes.
I’ve written lots of posts about friendships and bullying in the past, and I’ve always advocated standing up for oneself. As I said in my article for Foroige.ie,
Life begins to improve the day you decide that you no longer want to be bullied. Of course nobody enjoys getting picked on, but I speak from experience when I say that life changes dramatically the moment you stand up and say: “.”
…and I stand by that, of course I do. But I want you all to know that I realise just how hard it can be! While I think you—we—should all be able to say exactly what we feel, I totally understand that it might be the scariest thing you’ve ever had to do.
So if you’re having a tough time, I do feel that you should pluck up the courage and tell the person who’s hurting you—but if that’s too hard, approach someone else and deal with the problem as a team. It’s not “b**ching” and it’s not weak. It’s called being human.
So if I’ve ever come across as thoughtless, or talked about speaking out as if it’s the easiest thing in the world, then I wholeheartedly apologise and I want you all to know…
You might not be ready to make that step yet, and that’s OK. I just hope that one day soon you will.