Episode 2 Kids Can Be So Cruel: This is really about how kids can be so cruel when you’re little and how to navigate the barriers in your life.
I feel that we all have some things about ourselves that we are not exactly stoked on. We all do our best to hide them from the world. Some people may have a belly, or acne or weird looking feet. Some things we can’t change so we just do our best to navigate them. When you are young these things seem to be directly out in the open for other kids see, judge and make fun of. When you are weird or different looking you are seemingly an easy target.
I think as adults we have a very different perspective on what’s cruel and what’s not. But I’m sure that if you think back to when you were a kid you can remember more than a few times that kids were cruel to you or maybe you were cruel to them.
So we have all had amazing ideas at one time or another. Some people have amazing ideas that lead to something and totally change the world like creating an mp3 player or color printing or something like that. But sometimes ideas go the other way where they are life altering and sometimes worse. This is what simply today call a fail. We have all seen the fail videos where 10 seconds into a compilation our feet are sweating and we are cringing in some way or another as we watch some guy try to do a flip off a ladder into a above ground pool and it just goes horribly wrong.
When I was 10 old I had this amazing idea that would end up changing my entire life. My idea was that I was going to ride my skateboard down the sidewalk on my knees. I had done this so many other times around my driveway and it was always fun. Now I realize this doesn’t sound like some crazy feat that is pushing the bounds of amaziness but here’s how it went.
I was cruising down the sidewalk and I had one knee on my board and and I was pushing with the
other leg. I wasn’t going that fast but maybe just fast enough. I was about 3 houses down from mine where there were a set of bumps on the sidewalk. I knew these bumps pretty well. There were 2 of them and the sidewalk squares kind of went at a downward angle. I had rode over these on my bike thousands of times before. These 2 bumps changed my life for the worst. I saw them coming and I was just cruising along. The first bump was the smaller of the 2 so I did a quick pop a wheelie and I went right over it. No problem. The second bump was bigger and it came up quick. I had no time for a wheelie the front of my skateboard hit that bump head on and and went sailing into the air. I flew about 3 feet and landed directly on my face. Side walk to teeth. It was absolutely awful.I broke a few parts of my face and shoved 6 of my top teeth up into my nose and gums. I don’t remember much other than blacking out for what I think was just a few seconds and then running into my house in shock and screaming and crying looking for my babysitter.
Her name was Trish, she was a poor single mom who rode a motorcycle to our house most of the year except the winter months when she drove an old dusted out Pontiac that made there most of the time. She had 3 older girls but I didn’t see them very often. She was kind of wild and crazy.
Can you image just for a second that you are watching someone’s kids and one of them comes running into the house covered in blood and looking like something straight out of a Zombie movie. No joke if I had been yelling BRAINS she probably would have clobbered me with whatever was closest to her. She really handled like a champ where I imagine other people would have just passed out and went down like a bag of potatoes.
My recovery was pretty quick and I was back to school in just under a week with a bunch of wiring in my mouth and jaw and a cast on all my front teeth. I didn’t know that putting a cast in your mouth was a thing until I woke up and looked in the mirror and saw it sitting there in my mouth attached this very industrial looking shiny metal wire that span across the entire top row of my teeth. The cast looked like a very smooth piece of pink bubble gum but it was king of rough when I ran my tongue across it. I was kind of like licking a now and later that wasn’t wet yet. It was very odd feeling. I think I had that in my mouth for about 6 weeks. Once the cast came off my teeth they were just a mess. My bottom teeth were all chipped up and broken and hadn’t been touched and my front teeth were facing all different directions. Some of them were up farther than others and one of them stuck out farther than the rest it was just an absolute mess. I was not as ugly as sloth from the goonies but I definitely felt like him.
So now not only was I poor and had holes in my roof with water coming in but now I had a grill that looked like I eaten rocks for breakfast every morning, all my life.. This is where I learned that Kids can be so cruel. I had plenty of friends that I hung out with an played sports with. I was pretty coordinated and athletic so at least I had that going for me. My friends were pretty cool with me looking kinda messed up. They had been my friends for a long time. It was the other kids that tore me down.
We didn’t have money to fix my teeth so I just had to roll with it. I’m sure it’s like this everywhere but kids make fun of kids. Where I went to school in Flint it was open season on anyone for anything. If you were poor, if you your mom made your clothes, if you wore imitation Adidas or you had bad skin or teeth or your parents were trashy. It didn’t matter anything was ammo for anyone. Now I just had one more target for people to aim at. I got it bad and it hurt a lot.
I went from being a cute extrovert that would talk to anyone about anything to a broken face crazy teeth introvert with zero confidence. I was afraid to open my mouth for any reason.
I had no confidence and when you are hustling confidence is everything.
I had to find a work around. I learned how laugh differently and I learned how to smile with just my lips. I learned how to use my quick witts when people started ripping on me for whatever they saw fit. I also learned how to just ignore it.
20 years later at the age of 30 I got my teeth fixed and I had to learn to smile all over again. I still practice in the mirror and I still absolutely suck at it. If you see me on the street my smile is still a work in progress. It’s an always evolving work of art that will probably never be perfect but I just keep trying. Breaking a 20 habit is not easy. It’s interesting when I run into people that I haven’t seen since getting my teeth fixed they don’t always remember that my teeth were that messed up. No everyone, some people really really remember, but for the most people seem to remember them being messed up but it wasn’t a focus for them. But it was always a focus for me. Isn’t kind of like when you spill something on your pants and you think that everyone can see it and that’s all they are seeing. It’s simply not true.
Think about the barriers in your life that you have had to work around. How did you learn to navigate around it? For it was my teeth and how these 2 stupid bumps changed my life forever.
So what did I learn from having my faced crushed and my confidence taken away in an instant?
I learned that confidence is key in hustling. You really have to be comfortable in your own skin.
I didn’t know how to understand this until I was much older but I learned that barriers are everywhere, learn to identify them and navigate around them. What are some barriers that you have faced and how did you learn to navigate them?
As a kid but more so as an adult I learn that we all need to chose our words wisely. Most of us have some things about ourselves that we are not 100% stoked on. Be nice.
Don’t be that person that uses someone’s insecurities to tear them down. No one wins when that happens.