There are two observations I have made in life:
One: People are different.
Two: People do not know that people are different.
Not everyone expresses joy the same way. Some are naturally shy, quiet, laid back, or low-energy. Much can be said with silence. Often, at school pep rallies or singing in church, it is assumed that those with less visible enthusiasm are depressed or simply uninterested. They are pressured to conform to those with more visible energy, but to force oneself to conform only comes across as fake and awkward, and worse, it will prevent any true enthusiasm from ever forming. Why rob them of their joy?
Not everyone grieves in the same way. Some throw themselves into work, others throw themselves into bed, and others make jokes. Sometimes a joke is exactly what one needs to keep from spiraling into despair. It’s not meant as disrespectful. Sometimes a party is exactly what one needs to forget that they lost the big game yesterday, shrugging it off and rising above the struggle so that they can win the next. Not only is it nobody’s business but theirs, but it isn’t even a bad thing. To make people feel guilty for wanting to feel good instead of bad will only make them feel worse. It doesn’t help. It will rob them of their grieving process. In the same way, trying to cheer up those who just need time to cry and think is to rob them of their healing process. When people are at their most vulnerable is when they hurt each other the most.
One man’s friendly is another man’s creepy, and one man’s respectful is another man’s cold. There is a fine line between creepy and romantic, and whether the line has been crossed depends entirely on how the other person takes it. Some enjoy being surprised by love letters in their lunchboxes, but others are just freaked out that somebody had access to their belongings. It is possible to lose someone by going too fast or too slow and most people miss the clues that would tell which one it was. Even those that do learn only do so once it is too late and the lessons are completely inapplicable to the next relationship. Many of these differences are cultural. How close people stand, how long they maintain eye contact, and how soon they ask for or give away contact information can even differ substantially between members of the same community. There is no common agreement on these things, but most people believe there is and are quick to judge others for it.
Sometimes what one person takes as bullying the bully only meant as playful teasing between friends and is unaware how they are perceived. Other times those bullied refuse to be victims and respond in kind, leaving the authorities unsure who started it. While sometimes we are too slow to stop bullying before it gets out of control, other times we are too quick to accuse someone of bullying, making them feel bullied.
In all of these things there are different ways to be and different ways of doing things, but most people are only aware of their own ways. What weirdoes do you know? When were you accused of being a weirdo?
Bullying is a subject extensively examined in my science fiction novella Terror Of The Fun Sponge now available on Kindle. Check it out!
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.