Not My Finest Moment

So, it is time you all found out the truth about me. I used to be a serious bully. Really I was. I made kids cry at school, for sport. Check out this video for my “bully” story.

Cultivate Her – “Bullies” from Jenni Catron on Vimeo.

Pretty painful, huh?

Not to excuse my behavior, but the truth was that I was in a pretty bad place. We had moved and I was in unfamiliar territory, University Park Elementary School to be exact. I was insecure and really wanted to fit in, to be cool, to be liked, to be feared. And I was young, and unfortunately didn’t know more positive ways to channel my overwhelming feelings.

So I tore others down to make myself feel better, to make myself look better.

Candidly, even today when I feel insecure and overwhelmed, sometimes I find myself resorting to bullying ways. I just hide it better. A lot better.

Hopefully I am not alone in this. Your bullying story might not be as extreme as mine. But surely you have pushed someone around a time or two?

Please, someone? Say you were a bully too? Don’t make me beat it out of you? 😉

PS – This video was filmed for the inaugural Cultivate Her event. The subject was “Bullying.” Check out Jenni’s blog for more information about upcoming events and how you can get involved.

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • *tosses milk money your direction and scurries away* 🙂

    But seriously, we all have things in our past we're not proud of. I too had a short career of bullying in junior high. Looking back, I find it a little odd that I would bully anyone. But there were a couple kids, for one reason or another, that I routinely picked on.

    At the height of my brief mean streak, still very much an entry-level newbie bully, I got my clock cleaned after running off my mouth to one much further along in the ranks of bullydom. Through this incident, and the soul-crushing embarrassment that followed, I never bullied again!

    • This is just one side of my story. I was "bullied" too. I even had a couple of my "best friends" turn against me one summer and burn my teddy bear. The betrayal I felt definitely taught me a lesson.

      • I think most bullies experience both sides. Some of us just make ourselves look more innocent in the process, don't you think?

      • Sorry to hear about the bullying you received. I must admit, that's a little creepy! How does one make the jump from "angry" to "I'm going to set something on fire"?

    • Trudy Metzger

      thanks of sharing, Jay … and in such a fun way! I hope you're in a writing/speaking career, and out there talking to kids and youth! Your ability to entertain and still bring a message, even in such a short blurb, is a great indication that you would go far, if you're not already there!

      • Thank you, Trudy. That is very kind! I do a quite a bit of writing professionally, but it's all dry stuff (i.e., technical documentation, proposals, etc.). I thoroughly enjoy the more creative side of writing, and aspire to do more of it in the future – hopefully a book or seven. I recently resurrected my blog (shameless plug: to act as an outlet for this largely untapped passion of mine. Thanks again!

  • As a teacher of little ones, I noticed that all children were potential criminals just as much as they were potential saints. It never failed to amaze me, social life and background taken as being equal, that some children were "naturally" good whilst others were "naturally" bad and I did wonder why I had to work my guts out to make some behave while some hardly needed a whisper. If anyone can come up with an answer, they are a Nobel Prize candidate for sure.

    And sorry I have to admit, no such thoughts as tearing my class mate from limb to limb ever passed my mind- but that's just because I haven't even got the guts to watch a punch-up on tele- I have to shut my eyes stick my fingers in my ears and run out of the door fast.

  • First…thank you for being so honest.

    I wasn't a bully in high school…but I was that kid they would bully who scorched Earth to pay you back when you did something to me. If you ever saw "The Untouchables" I subscribed quite a bit to the "Chicago way." I once had a girl who was mocking me on the bus get grounded for a month during the summer for something she didn't even know had happened.

    I guess you could say it was bullying…just not first strike bullying. 🙂

  • StephanieinLex

    I was a chronic bully victim in elementary, middle, and high school. While I've recovered and have overcome most, if not all, residual insecurities from being called Horse Girl and being tormented in 8th grade Spanish class for being a teacher's pet, I recognize that I'm easily bullied as an adult as well! As I'm much more confident now, I admittedly have the ability to bully back and sometimes choose to do so in sharp, manipulative jabs (not my finest moments either, indeed). I agree with the speaker that women should focus on being sisters in Christ and lifting each other up. It's amazing how much dissension has its roots in comparisons. I think satan uses our tendency to compare ourselves with each other/measure one another up as a way to drive a wedge in healthy female friendships. Being aware of this helps me take captive thoughts when I realize that I'm comparing and beginning to pit myself against someone else.

    (On another note, how weird is it getting Facebook friend requests from bullies?! Have you gotten any friend requests from people you used to bully? It's so weird looking back at this as an adult, isn't it?)

    • StephanieinLex, I am constantly surprised by the people from childhood, who want to be my 'friend" now. But I find comfort in knowing that we have all grown up a lot.

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  • I've always been too nice to be a "bully" but I have, especially in the past, done subtle not so nice things to others, and have had a LOT of it done to me!

    I've mentioned on your blog before I'm not typical. By the time I was in College I was generally nice to most girls, but inwardly competitive, mostly in regards to academic achievement and a desire to be thinner than most. It was all non verbal but inwardly I knew I was distancing myself from others. So not exactly a bully but not exactly as kind, sweet and helpful as I seemed.

    • @torybee, I guess it is not so much bullying thats a problem today, but not championing others because of insecurities that I struggle with.

  • I was the one being bullied, not the bully.

    Being bullied made me deeply insecure. It's amazing how insecurity breeds itself. Someone's insecure so they bully other people, making THEM insecure… etc etc.

    I must admit though that I hav fully partaken in being a bully at times, although in much more sophisticted and subtle ways than schoolyard agressiveness.

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Lindsey. Don't forget though that what you DID back then, doesn't make who you ARE today!

    • Peter, Thanks for standing with me in this. I kind of question anyone that says they haven't ever bullied anyone. Maybe they weren't in the high school cafeteria making kids cry but surely they have tried to keep someone down to make themselves look, feel better? Right?

      And yes, this totally does not define who I am today. Thank goodness!

      • You're welcome.

        I've met very few people who haven't tried at some time in their lives to exert their superiority in one thing or another. Trying to make some see/believe that you're better than them at something can be a form of bullying, unless done very, very well.

  • Naomi

    Sad how you tell the story with a smile, smirk on your face….Doesn't look good on an older woman.

    • Naomi, Ouch. I am pretty sure it was because I was nervous in front of the camera. Not because I am a mean "older" woman. Believe me, I feel terrible that I was a bully in 5th grade. As the title of the post indicates, "not my finest moment."

      • Interesting take, I will say that I didn't take it that way. There is also a point in adulthood that we come to grips with even our less than finest moments. We can't forever let it evoke feelings of defeat and to me a smirk/smile, or twinkle in the eye, communicates having moved beyond that.

      • I think when you read the point you can say something along the lines of "I was an idiot" with a smile on your face it means you've reached a point of healing and understanding. We realize what we did wrong but we also realize that doesn't define us any more. How can you not smile knowing Jesus has worked in you to bring you beyond that?

      • I noticed the smile and thought at first that it made you look insincere… then I sat back and thought about it and realized that if I was doing what you were doing, I'd have an even goofier expression on my face out of nervousness!

    • Marcie

      Goodness gracious Naomi–isn't that a form of bullying…'

  • Trudy Metzger

    I was a bubbly, sweet, kind and outgoing girl who loved people and was loved by most. But I have to confess that, while not the stereotypical bully, I had my ways of surviving, and being slightly more wicked than the bully, when I was bullied or wronged.

    Caught in the hell of a violent home where we were silenced and abused, I was not going to let both worlds hurt me while I 'sucked it up'. Rather than being the big mean bully, I became catty and manipulative when I wanted to control or hurt someone. Without fail my 'victims' were other girls/women in my life that I thought had 'asked for it'. While it was rare, because I really did love people, this occassional carried on into adulthood before I finally learned to deal with unpleasant relationships in a more mature way. So you're not alone!

    • Trudy Metzger

      typo in second last sentence: should read "…this occassional 'bullying' carried on…."

  • where's the vid…?

  • I inadvertently posted 'anonymously' – I'm not much for secrets – so I'm claiming my bullying sins by announcing that I am the catty manipulator several posts ago!

  • Oh yes! I am afraid I was a bully in elementary school. I still think about that girl and the negative impact we might have had on her life.

  • I bullied other girls intermittently from about 4th through 7th or 8th grade. No violence, I'd just get a group of girls and be the ring leader in leaving someone out. Or pick up on another girl's insecurities and make very clever put-downs that entertained my classmates. It was attention-getting and gave me a sense of power and status…well, as much as a kid at that age can think they have.
    One evening I received a phone call from a mother of a girl I had been picking on over the course of several weeks. The mom voiced her feelings about my treatment of her daughter in a very calm and moving way. There was one line that I will never forget, "My little girl cries herself to sleep every night because of you." That mom showed that she not only cared about her little girl, but she wasn't going to attack me. I was someone's little girl, too.
    She made a loving appeal, in a firm way, that brought conviction and shame for my behavior. I realized that this girl was a person with feelings just like me.
    We can explain away bullying on home life, insecurities, etc. which I agree are forces that are contributing factors. But the deepest root is that we have a sin nature. As sinful, broken people—we are unloving, selfish and power-seeking. We delight in evil and fail to show mercy.
    The girl who cried herself to sleep at night calls me to talk every week or two, even though we are separated by miles. She has forgiven me and chooses to remember the years that we were friends. She shows me undeserved love and devotion as a friend. Mercy in action.
    I have since had some people in work situations that I have just irritated me or rubbed me the wrong way; so I complained about them to a coworker (who wouldn't call me on it) and made it a point not to extend the kindness (mercy) to them that I did to others. When I finally dealt with what was going on. It came back to that selfishness, that exalting myself in my own eyes as the judge of what was "right" and pleasing behavior and failing to have compassion/mercy for that person. I failed to view that person as one of worth who was like me with feelings, insecurities and challenges in life. Thank God that He convicts me within (or sends a courageous, loving souls to do it) and His commitment to teach me and lead me in the ways of mercy.
    We do others a great favor when we confront their "bullying attitudes"–no matter how small–in a calm and loving way, realizing we all are God's little girl or boy, no matter our age.

  • Wow. Such a great story y'all told Lindsey. Thank you so much for sharing this. I appreciate the honesty so very much. Your stories have taught me so much and reminded me why we do the things we do and how we can best explain things to our children.

    And, for the record, I'm shocked you were the bully. 😉

    • @Fran, I think this is fascinating territory. Because sometimes good kids (whatever that means) go through bad phases. And those times shouldn't define you. Thankfully I had wonderful parents, teachers (excpet one who was a nightmare), friends who helped me walk through it. And come out a caring and compassionate person.

      I read Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes about school violence. It was a fascinating read. It did a wonderful job of exploring the possible emotions of the teenagers and the parents involved. I have also heard wonderful things about Columbine by Dave Cullen. Because unfortunately sometimes there are not happy endings.