I had intended to write something quite different this week, but unfortunately I had to take the decision to give myself a break from the internet in general over the past two weeks. It was the right decision to make, and results in a different post than I had planned. These weeks have been difficult but I feel strongly that this is an important thing to share. I am now back online, as it were (obviously, you are reading this)! So here we go…
Written on 07/10/2016
We all possess consciousness. Every day we wake, we open our eyes consciously to the world around us. We see the light, we see the shadows. We see the trees stretching out their golden limbs to embrace us, and the clouds in an eternal race across the bluest of skies. Occasionally we see the rain, droplets trickling down the windows or pelting onto the ground.
We all possess sub-consciousness. Every day we wake, we open our eyes and we close our thoughts to the theatre of sleep, where faces dance like actors on the stage of our mind. We wake and we feel the same, just as we were yesterday, just as we were the day before, just as we will be tomorrow. We are the same person, no matter how what our emotions. We hear sounds in silence, we see the flash of a figure where there is none, we are puppets for the trickster in our brain.
I do not believe that anyone is born purely evil. Just as we all possess consciousness and sub-consciousness, we are all born with a conscience. Drawing on both the voice of the conscious and sub-conscious inside the heart of each of us, we have an innate sense of what is right. We have an innate sense of what is wrong. We have the conscience that plagues our thoughts until we can no longer escape it. Our conscience stops us from making decisions that we regret, and urges to make the decisions we will never regret.
When we see something that is wrong, we know that it is wrong. However it occurs, there are people in our world who have lost their way. They are like balloons with no air in them. Their subconscious cries for help, whilst their consciousness conceals what hurts them with bravado and anger. When we hear their cry for help, our conscience makes our decision clear. Who can hear a scream and not respond?
Even if the decision is clear, even if we know that we have to help, it’s not easy. It takes courage, so much courage. To find the strength within you to report something, to give aid, to be there, is a decision all too often repressed by fear of the consequences for ourselves. Doing the right thing selflessly is not always easy, but that never means it’s not the right thing.
We all possess consciousness, we see what goes on, we understand it. We all possess a sub-consciousness, we know that what something appears to be may not be the truth, we are affected by things we do not realise. We all possess conscience that tells us what to do. We all have that infinite perception of right, and of wrong. It’s what we call our ‘gut instinct.’ It’s something we ignore. But we shouldn’t. We can’t. By hesitating to act on that cry for help, the problem gets worse. And who does that make us? We know what is right. We know what is wrong. We must do what is right, whatever the effect is on us.
A while ago I made a decision that was incredibly hard to do. I responded to a cry for help. Responding to it has meant the person involved has got they help they needed, and hopefully they go on to a better place for them. However, unfortunately this was not the end. The doorway at the end of this did not reveal a door that I could pull close to shut off the issue in safety, but a narrow corridor with the light seemingly a long way off.
A decision I made for the health of one of my peers was dramatically turned against me. I was to blame. I was a traitor. I couldn’t be trusted. I was a snitch. I was a geek. I was a nerd. I was everything they could throw at me. And at the same time I was nothing at all, a piece of dirt to be sneered at, to be hissed at. For a week, I was the but of every joke, the music that made the whispers sing through the cloisters.
I denied it. I lied to protect myself. I was bulletproof on the outside. On the inside I felt like a raging inferno, I was angry with the feelings of disappointment in my peers. I promised myself I wouldn’t let it get to me. But I was disappointed and confused. Why did they not see the right thing in this?
There became no ‘my side’ of the story to tell. And so as far I was concerned, I pretended was not involved. I tried to distance myself, but in a world of social media it’s not always easy. I went offline and in person I kept denying it, but we all possess a subconscious. My face probably painted every word necessary in glorious technicolour on the cranial canvas of anyone I met.
It was so hard to be strong. But with the help of staff and prefects, it got better today. I began to feel normal again and not like I had an arrow pointing at me, pursuing me the whole day long. I thought it wouldn’t, but even a Crunchie gave me a bit more strength, and I grew my armoury. I was strong, and it would pass.
It’s not easy when something you did for the right reasons becomes something everyone else sees as wrong. It’s not easy to report something in the first place. It’s even harder when confidentiality breaks somewhere along the line. You don’t know who you can trust. The whole world seems to be against you. But that’s when you see who truly is your world.
I can never express my gratitude to the staff who have helped me this week, who have sat with me, who have given me chocolate, biscuits, tea. For those who have said that theirs is an open door. For those who knew when to say nothing. For those who talked about the changing of the season, the coldness of the morning being supressed by the warmth of the afternoon, who showed their support through metaphor. For those who distracted me with work, and understood when it wasn’t up to my normal standard. For those who simply asked me whether I was OK. And to the pupils who did come to me, their own conscience knowing what was right. For those who offered a smile when I was most lost. For a beautiful letter I received.
We all possess consciousness. We all possess sub-consciousness. But arguably what makes us humans unique is that we all possess a conscience. We see suffering and we act on it. We act for the good of others and are not afraid to face what comes our way. I know that I made the right decision. Even with hindsight I regret nothing; my conscience made me make a decision I will never regret.
I hope that you are never afraid to act on your conscience. It is hard, but it is right. Don’t be afraid of the consequences either. If you experience bullying in any way, shape or form, report it and speak to people about it. The people in your life, your teachers and friends are there to help. Remember that you did the right thing, and that’s what makes you the better person. It took me a long time, too, to realise that it’s ok to be angry with how people might treat you. But if you had the courage to do the right thing, then you have the strength within you to ride the storm that should not, but might, follow.
Don’t be afraid, be strong, do what you think is right even if it means going against the crowd. And ‘Illegitimi non carborundum’ (look it up if you don’t know what it means!).
Today is World Smile Day. This week I have seen yet again how a simple smile can make all the difference. Thank you to everyone who smiles at me. I hope that the appreciation of reassurance and love you’ve shown me this week I will return someday in my smiles to you. A smile from someone close to you, a friend, and even from a stranger can make someone’s day, someone’s week, even someone’s year. Keep smiling even when it’s tough. A brave face outside is a n incredibly brave person inside.