Thursday, February 3, 2011

What happens when one feels like scum

Are you doing what you love? I am fortunate that in both of my careers (and in writing this blog) I love what I do. When I took part in a practice job interview after I ended my first career the other participants remarked how my face lit up when I talked about music. I also love my volunteer work, both music related and not.

This post isn't to brag about my good fortune, but to explore what can happen when a person doesn't do what they love or isn't being who they are because they've been bullied into doing something else. These thoughts are based on a posting by someone who calls himself Joshalot. Alas, he doesn't explain why he knows so much about this topic, he doesn't give his professional credentials.

Everyone needs validation -- someone who says they appreciate who we are and what we do. With authentic (positive) validation we can reach our life goals with confidence and can be a contributing member of society. With inauthentic (negative) validation we feel like scum. And those feelings can last a long time.

Many gay kids (among others) get a lot of negative validation. Some have a home that provides enough positive validation to withstand the hassles of school, some do not. Many of these gay kids do what they can to hide their orientation. They do things, not because they love them, but because those things provide camouflage for their gayness and reduce the hassles. They end up both condemned for who they are and also cut off from what they do and forced to do things that aren't rewarding.

That conflict between who they are (and want validation for being) and who they are forced to be leads to inner conflict which can lead to much grief. It can take two forms. "I am so unacceptably flawed that I can't bear to live any longer." Or "I may be flawed, but at least I'm better than this other guy. See, I have power over him, I can make him feel like scum." The first commits suicide. The second becomes a bully.

Granted, not all bullies are gay kids looking for validation, though many times our harshest opponents are closeted gays. But, no matter the source, bullies do their bullying because they need to feel superior to someone else. And one way to do that is to make the other person feel like scum.

This brings me back to my own observation that the teachings of Jesus are about promoting mental health and community. With both of these there is little negative validation, little need to bully, and a strong community to step in when bullying does happen. Alas, many Fundies take their religion as an excuse to be the bully.

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