The kid had to be twice my size and, not knowing that in less than ten years that most people would have to look up to me quite literally as I would stop growing at a tall six feet, five inches, this kid scared the life out of me.
It was the last day I ever spent at my elementary school and it was shaping up to be ending on a down note. The long standing tradition was to ‘egg people’ outside the school after that last day of class if you were moving on to high school. After all, how can you get into trouble if you’re never coming back?
Regardless, the school bully I can no longer recall the name of had me in his sights. I was an easy target back then, still four years away from my high school years in El Paso, which honestly changed my entire life from that point on.
For right now, I was a fat kid who was once skinny, a kid who everyone shunned like he had the plague ,a kid who had a large part in taking care of his sick mother daily, with very little support or caring from my father at all. I had no will and no desire to fight, better to let it wash over you like a flood and eventually the waters would be reduced and they would dry up.
So he cornered me, he got the egg right in the center of my head and made sure with a little push that it would not wash away easily as it dripped down onto my face and my t-shirt. Me and my friend tried our best to wash it off in the water fountain at a park near out homes but it was no use, I was branded with dairy for at least the short term.
Parting with my friend and walking across the street to go home, I started to worry. I did nothing wrong and I knew I was in the right to have a slightly bruised ego over this, but my father would not take this one lightly at all and in those days he watched me like a hawk, micro managing me to the point of collapse.
I went into the kitchen and tried to make my way to the bathroom to finish washing off the egg but he spotted it and began a speech about how he would have done better in my shoes; he was the toughest boy in his neighborhood as a child and I was a poor excuse for a man and a son.
This event is so well remembered because it is one of the times as a kid I really felt lost. Parents are supposed to teach us how to behave and react and I was just being told that my status was exactly as deserved as I did not fight the kid.
The egg had turned me into a chicken.
However, the main mistake in this story is not made by the bully (who probably had a worse home life then me to act in such a way that young), not my abusive father, and certainly not the egg, which died a painless death atop my young head.
It was my mistake, one that each of us perpetrates daily, the mistake of letting outside voices and events dictate the way we feel about ourselves. Letting our own souls fall into disarray due to power of words and the desire to feel like you belong in some capacity to this little world of ours.
However, you belong to yourself, not the world nor any other individual or group. You can base your choices on love for another, sympathy and empathy or religious or political values but in the end the circle will always close and begin again on how you approach yourself internally and that will project itself onto the outside world, be it in a positive or negative way.
Another example is the group of men and women who dub themselves ‘forever alone’ across the internet due to their perceived inability to attract a mate. In those circles, men of my height are considered more desirable to the opposite sex. In fact, when I went in there to explain that despite being tall, I still was not exactly Casanova because of other shortcomings and that any shortcoming (pun not intended), can be overlooked depending on how you handle yourself.
I was attacked and accused of ‘trolling’ rather than helping.
Again, it is the inner perception that causes the illusion.
Some of those men and women are only in their twenties and it is sad to see so many people just lay down and give up on, not just women or men or whatever their sexual and romantic choices are, but how they gave up on themselves.
Recently I made a lot of changes to my outward appearance because I just wanted to feel better about myself. I do this for me and not for anybody else; I could care less what or who they think I pay more attention to maintaining a good outward appearance for.
Thing is, some people have tried to make me feel that egg on my head again, saying such things as, ‘why did I look like I was on my way to a job interview all the time’ or ‘dressed up’ or even the one person who asked me when I started trying to look like I was on the cover of GQ magazine.
Again I am reminded of yet another example of this behavior when about four years ago I told my former best friend that regardless of where it went and what became of it, I wanted to record some of my original songs and send them off to record labels and just see what happens.
During a very creative text based conversation where I was describing this muse and what I hoped to achieve, I received a message that should have told me everything I needed to know about my former friend and how much he would support me: “Yeah, OK, sure Tom, when does the album come out and will there be a world tour?”
That is not building someone up, that is destroying them and, as I learned later in life than most, that is also not a real friend.
Now in each of those cases above the opinions of others really mean very little; they are the words of people who had little value to remain important in my mind and admittedly I still struggle with this issue to this day because I wished so hard to be accepted as that old lost little boy.
Because he was never really lost at all, except inside himself.
That boy was a victim not only of others but, more importantly, himself. He allowed people to shape his life rather than shaping it himself. Today I might be frayed around the edges but I know who is who.
Today I have very few friends but there is not one of that very select group that I would not do nearly anything for and in some cases they would do the same for me and they really care about me and try to encourage me to grow and achieve my dreams, not destroy them.
Why do people behave in such a manner? Sometimes it is jealousy and competition and at others it may be that they are compensating for their own shortcomings that they are too afraid to face themselves. Better to push other people down so you can make yourself look and feel like you’re on top and in control.
The reasons really don’t matter though because in the end the only thing that matters is you…and we all get egg on our faces from time to time. It’s all in how we cook the sucker afterward that counts.
Special thanks to Dame Katie for the topic this month…cheers DK!