It's special. Yet most of us have a talent for something. Latent sometimes.
The book* said that if your parents put you down, then you don't think you've got what it takes to be someone. Having a gift at something doesn't change your mind. Knowing you have certain strengths means nothing. You develop this irrational fear of exposure from the constant put downs. We've talked about the fear of exposure in relationships. Abuse is one of the germs.
If you've been abused then you might develop the fear that if you try to do something fabulous you'll be PROVEN the idiot you think you are. You're sure you'll fail and everyone will KNOW you're a loser as opposed to just guessing.
So you don't try to succeed because you think that if you do, for sure you'll fail. And that's too embarrassing for words.
Makes sense, and this dynamic makes sense, too, although it's a little different. Title the essay,
Kids Who Live in Tough Neighborhoods(I know, I know, some of you are going to say that this can happen anywhere, that the socioeconomic bias infuriates you, and it's not necessary, and you're right. But be patient, okay? Don't spleen me I'm just trying to illustrate a point.)
Maybe you were the kid who grew up in the tough neighborhood. The windows in your home were always open and people, your parents, could be heard screaming from your house all the way down the block. Screaming about what? Anything.
Others in this neighborhood didn't care much because they had their own problems, mainly poverty or another sociological ill. Or they did care, but boy, they didn't say anything to anyone, didn't call the police, afflicted or not.
The kids in the schools in neighborhoods like these tend to be tougher and angrier than most. (See posts on angry kids, The Columbine Kid in particular). When kids are tough and angry they look for another kid to pick on. This feels good, displacing anger, giving someone else your aggravation. Misery loves company. The grown up version is dad Kicking the Dog after work or mom or anyone screaming in general.
So angry kids (and there are many and they tend to be suckers for group think) are prone to bullying other kids, usually the vulnerable kids. Why pick on a kid who will beat you up? The angry ones look for the vulnerable ones, children who may have already been beaten up at home, in one way or another, or who have other problems.
A vulnerable kid will nervously make an appearance that first day of school. He's a little overweight, a little too smart for his own good. He starts out innocently enough making good grades. The teacher shows his paper to the rest of the class, the one with the big 100% or Smiley Face in marker.
Time for recess.
Whack! Crunch go the glasses. It sounds so cliche but it's true!
You know victim profiles, right? The fat kid, the shy kid, the tall kid, the short kid. The dark kid, the light kid. The black kid the white kid.
Boy, I'm a regular Dr. Seuss.
So the LAST thing a vulnerable kid wants to do is to draw attention to himself. Attention is bad, blending in is good. Be like everyone else. Be normal. Not special. If you stick out, it'll hurt.
And the kid is fabulous, sensitive, a very normal kid at that. And he or she comes to me as an adult and I see the fabulousness but he asks, Why do I fear success? Why do I worry so much that people WON'T like me if I'm a success, if I succeed where others, basically, fail? I don't want to be the one who succeeds where others fail.
Always threw the game, lost the homework, dressed badly even when he could have looked so good.
Blend in. Someone else with less to lose will take your place, someone with more drive, more confidence.
It's not so hard to understand, really, when you think of it that way.
*It's true, I didn't read any book. But if I had, that's what it would have said. If I wrote that book, I suppose, that's what I would have said.
copyright 2007, therapydoc