An Unsettling Revelation: Childish Behaviour Never Really Leaves the Playground

Girl looking out at St Kilda Beach with the wind in her hair

The past 12 months have been somewhat eye-opening for me. The layer of naivety that once kept we warm at night has been ripped off without warning, leaving me exposed to the cold hard truth of the human race. I guess it had to happen some day. Does this unsettling degree of awareness make me an adult now? Who knows. I’m edging closer and closer to the quarter of a century milestone yet I feel as though I’ve only just accomplished standing on my own two feet. And even so, I feel vulnerable. 

It’s difficult to swallow let alone digest a plate of spiteful comments. What’s worse is when the ‘master chef’ is someone you genuinely trust-ed. What’s worse is when the grand display of nastiness magnifies your own personal insecurities and unleashes the demons you’ve fought so hard to keep out. Though the act I’m referring to may, in the larger scheme of things be perceived as insignificant – water off the ducks back as they say – words are powerful and the words that were used to describe my very being, crushed me. I guess these outrageously childish blows never really leave the playground. As ‘high school’ as it may be, the affliction is real.

My intention here is to highlight the sheer power of words. So often, words are recklessly exchanged and cruel comments masked as jokes are thrown into the circle, leaving scars that never really fade. I mean, why don’t people take as much restraint with words as they do with throwing a punch? Is it ignorance? Do they not realise that they are still taking a punch – a punch at somebody’s self-esteem, confidence and overall mental well-being? It’s those punches that are hardest to recover from.

Initially, I was consumed by rage. Then there was the onslaught of tears – courtesy of the emotionally fragile state I had fallen into. It made me question who I was as a person and it activated a stream of toxic thoughts, sparking the all-consuming fear of spiralling backwards. Fortunately, I was able to muster up enough strength to shut the trapdoor and cleanse my mind.

Having had time to fully digest the situation, I can say that in spite of the lingering sour taste in my mouth, I am better off. There are always going to be wolves in sheep’s clothing and I’ll endeavour to spot them early on. Unfortunately, in this particular case, I had my blinkers on and my trusting nature was abused. I’m sure some of you can relate. There is no need for toxic people in your life, so bid your goodbyes and take it as a blessing in disguise.

I also want to draw on the positives that emerged from the ashes – the silver linings, if you will.

One – I was able to channel my inner rage into a productive gym session. I kid you not, the rage I was harbouring enabled me to run for double the time I was capable of. Anger is undoubtedly a strong source of motivation, though, it’s certainly not one I’d like to call upon on a regular basis.

Two – Awareness is a such a priceless yet bittersweet reward in my opinion. Nevertheless, I’ve learnt to choose wisely who I bare my soul to.

Three – Initially, I felt isolated because I was concerned about how others would perceive this emotional episode. Was it even large enough to warrant a reaction like mine? And so, I kept this painful revelation to myself and as one could predict, these unwelcome thoughts spun heavily inside my head, dragging me further away from a resolution. Finally, I came to my senses and decided to get it off my chest after which I felt inexplicably lighter. Talking about the issue at hand with another person will not only offer perspective, it will restore your faith in friendship. The worst thing you can do is allow negativity to fester, although it’s the one thing that we seem to forget time and time again.

And four – what a person says is ultimately a reflection of them. Underneath jealousy, hate and spite lies a very insecure individual who feels the only way to self-validate is to speak poorly of others. Take solace in that.

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