Dear Teen Me,
Don’t worry, things won’t always be this way. You know Mark? Yeah, the chowderhead who uses you as his own personal punching bag. He thinks he’s pretty cool smacking you around, doesn’t he? Tries to make you feel weak and stupid. That’s what bullies do. You’d like to slam him off the bus, but you won’t.
Remember the story about the North Wind and the Sun, the one your teacher, Mrs. Simmons, told you? Mrs. Simmons always told stories when she was giving advice.
The North Wind was arguing with the Sun. He pointed out a man walking down the street, and said smugly to the Sun, “I’ll bet I can make that man take off his coat and you can’t, because I’m smarter than you and I’m stronger than you.”
“I’ll take that bet,” said the Sun.
So the North Wind blew, cold and fierce. But the more the Wind blew, the tighter the poor man held his coat around himself.
Then the Sun came out, and smiled, and it became warm. The man took off his coat.
Mrs. Simmons told you that story the day you wouldn’t look at her, the day that Mark… well, did what he did to you. Mrs. Simmons said, “Everybody knows about the North Wind. He’s a bully. He uproots trees and flowers, levels buildings, causes tidal waves. He crashes planes and sinks ships. People hate when he’s around. Who in their right mind wants to be like that?”
She became quiet for a second, then said softly, “But look what the North Wind could do. He could make kites fly. He could sculpt mountains and deserts. He could make the air refreshing on a hot, blistering day. He chooses not to.”
Then she tilted your face up to hers, looked right into your eyes, and told you something you never forgot.
“You are the Sun. You are much more powerful than the Wind. People love to be near you. You make them happy just by smiling. Even when the North Wind blows, people feel warm and pleasant if you’re around.”
In a voice almost like a whisper, she said, “Of course, you also have the power to make people dread the day and pray for the night. You could burn stone and melt flesh. You could turn the cooling breeze to flame. You choose not to.”
Mrs. Simmons was right. You make wise choices. Trust your instincts. Things will change as you grow up. For you, they’ll change for the better. For Mark? Not so much.
Here’s the thing. Bullies are cowards. Mark calls you names because putting people down is the only way he knows to feel good about himself. Pretty sad, isn’t he? He is the one with low self-esteem, not you. He is the one with anger issues, not you.
Two things you’ll learn that will stop Mark in his tracks. First, if you don’t react when he picks on you, he’ll stop. Bullies don’t know how to handle kids who refuse to react.
Second, if you act like he’s no threat at all, he’ll short-circuit. When you see Mark coming, instead of trying to hide and not be seen, look him right in the eye and say, “Hey, how’s it going?”
You’ll confused him.
Bullies have small brains.
He’ll walk away wondering what just happened.
Mark could have been like the Sun. He chose to be like the North Wind. The first in a string of unwise choices. You don’t know it now, but he’ll end up in jail for drug possession. Then, he’ll end up in the hospital for rehab. Finally, he’ll end up in the morgue for overdose.
But you? You’ll take Mrs. Simmons’ advice and become an author. You’ll write novels where good always triumphs over evil. You’ll invent a brand new superhero, a different type of super-villain, and a whole world to fight evil in. The bullies will never win in your stories. The truth is, they never win in real life, either.
All I can say is, I wish you knew what I know. I wish you could see now how wonderful your life will turn out. You will be a writer, I promise. Never forget Mrs. Simmons’ words.
You are the Sun.
I pledge to take a stand against bullying each and every day. #OneVoice
~ D.R. Rosensteel, author of Psi Another Day
Find D.R. Online at: