I was bullied as a child. I didn’t know it then, but I definitely know it now.
20-ish or so years ago when I was going through school, unless it was physical punches and huge fights, it wasn’t recognised as bullying. My parents told me to ignore my tormentors; grow a thicker skin, they said.
I grew up with no friends.
My parents didn’t believe in playdates, and certainly not in socializing for a child. My world was a world of books, tests and study. I wasn’t allowed to go to birthday parties as my parents said that meant we had to hold a party to invite them in return. They too kept to themselves and did no socialising with friends. What this meant for me was that nobody wanted to be my friend at school; nobody invited me to anything because they knew I couldn’t come anyways.
My school world was one of competition and ranking. I was pushed, and pushed to always be number one. To be the best. And I was, at least in my school. But that too, won me no friendships as my classmates spread rumours after rumours saying that the only reason I always came in first was because I had secretly pre-done the test papers; my mum was a teacher at the school and she had helped me cheat.
I was lonely.
As a child I thought that popularity was everything. For a child who had no friendships, no friend to skip rope with at recess, no buddy to play and laugh with, I saw popularity as the answer to everything. The prettiest girl in the class was popular. My classmates told me I was ugly, constantly. It wasn’t hard to believe – I was not popular, therefore I must not be pretty.
It has taken me years to repair some of the damage; to disassociate the two. Years, to believe that I am not ugly, that I do not need to be popular to be a successful person, that popularity is not the answer to everything, neither is fame. But from time to time, when I think I had my inner demon beaten, it rears its head up once more.
And that’s part of the reason why I stopped blogging after more than 10 years of doing so. My mental health was taking a dive; I was turning my hobby into a sick fascination for fame and popularity, always the green-eyed monster to chase and chase for more. Feeling unhappy, malcontent and always dissatisfied. There was always something more I wanted. More clicks, more hits, more traffic, more followers, more event invites, more fame, more free shit. I filled rooms and rooms of my house with this ‘free shit’, I kid you not. It’s been 3 – 4 years since the last parcel came through my door and I still have boxes and boxes of these.
Recently I have felt the tendrils of panic setting back in. Increasingly, I read more and more blogs. All on personal finance, because this is a topic I genuinely have an interest in at this current point in time. But many of these blogs also talk about monetising the blog, about increasing traffic, and this morning I caught myself thinking that maybe I should be trying to do more to increase traffic too. And that’s when the first tendrils of panic starting curling round the edges. I thought I had squashed my inner demon! This green-eyed monster that always wants to be the best, the most popular, the most famous!? In a weak moment, I even entertained the thought of shutting down the blog.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be better. But I cannot risk letting myself fall into that spiral again, that eternal chase and never ever getting there. I need to remember that writing this blog is for me, for myself. I am no saviour, I’m not about to write an amazing piece that will save the world. Neither am I such a wordsmith that readers hang onto every word, forgetting even to take a breath. The joy must be from the words I write for myself, and not from the graphs and clicks I see recorded on my dashboard. And I definitely get joy from writing!
We all have an inner demon. Multiple, even. I know I do. And that’s okay. We all need to face our own inner demons, but we build character and draw strength from having stood up to our inner demons. It might be a life-long battle, but it’s your own battle. You can move at your own pace, fight at your own pace, as long as you keep fighting it. Because only you can fight for yourself.