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Growing A Thick Skin


Over the years, I’ve met so many people with very different personalities. Many who have become role models for me and have molded the person I am today. All along providing me with the strength to see through the many challenges in my life from childhood bullying, adoption, infertility, divorce, and yes…domestic violence. However, the hardest challenge I have faced time and again has been in the work place dealing with conflict, but the type of conflict that on the surface appears to be rewarded rather than frowned upon. Bullying.

Unfortunately, I’ve dealt with bullies in my life. After all, there are many types; childhood bully, teenage bully, best friend bully, life-partner bully and there’s the workplace bully. My experience has been to just mind my own business, treat these bullies with kindness in hopes of softening their hearts in that one day they will change. But the later, unfortunately, rarely happened partly because I, like many others, just sat back and said nothing. After all, I was an expert at walking on eggshells. I knew how to avoid conflict. My kindness was instead taken advantage of because the bully was nice to me in return only when they needed something. All the while, all I was doing was increasing my stress and frustration. For what? To avoid conflict for fear of retaliation. After all, we are taught as children that you let the adults, “the ones in charge”, handle the bad behavior. We are taught early on that nobody likes a “tattle-tail”. The only problem is that rarely does a bully act out in front of the ones in charge. So what do you do? Kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place, eh?

***Needless to say, the phrase “grow a thick skin” popped up over and over!***

I guess I never really thought about it. I don’t know, maybe I just didn’t understand the true meaning of this phrase. After all my career, not my personal life, has been by far more successful. So obviously I was doing something right! However, after the realization of my failed personal life, it came to light that, without knowing, I, in fact, had grown a thick skin. Yes, it wasn’t until I had to go to weekly counseling for the living nightmare of a near-death experience I so gratefully survived, that I became aware of exactly how thick my skin had become. It’s almost like an onion…you don’t truly know that it has layers, or how many layers, until you start peeling it. Then comes the challenging part of dissecting each layer just so in that you carefully and cleanly peel away each layer. You find yourself in tears at times, fighting hard to not let the onion’s strong layers get to you, but ultimately, to get to the center of the onion…you will have been forced to shed more than just a few tears, but a ton of weight you’ve been carrying because of the thick skin you were forced to grow.

People would tell me I don’t know how you do it, but you are the strongest person I know. Even though on the inside I felt like a fragile piece of crystal that could break into a million pieces in an instant. Was it strength? Weakness? Denial? No, it was the thick skin I had grown. I learned to block out the things that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough or weaker than others. This only worked for short periods of time though and got harder and harder instead of easier. Why? Well, I never dealt with the real issue. The bully! You see, it takes more effort to shield yourself of the bad stuff so as to avoid being hurt by the bully. Instead, you end up hurting yourself by carrying more weight than you need to.

So now when I hear, “Oh that’s just the way that person is, you just need to learn to grow a thick skin and shrug it off,” I just cringe! I’ve worked so hard at peeling back the layers that I say NO! Why should I have to grow a thick skin when the bully is the problem? I’ve realized that I can’t ignore them anymore. I can’t sit back and pretend that everything is all fine and dandy. I can’t continue to treat the bully with kindness when I know their behavior is wrong. It shouldn’t stop there either…if I see others being treated this way, I feel obligated to step in. Why? Because I know what it’s like to live in fear and frustration…and not speaking up only empowers the bully’s behavior and gives them permission to act as they do.

Next time you see someone being bullied, whether at work or not, stop and think how you would feel if this were happening to you. Would you want someone to tell you, “Oh just grow a thick skin” or would you prefer they stand by your side and defend against the bully? Strength in numbers, right?…so are we going to let the bully population grow or are we going to stand up and speak out?

http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/2011/03/dateline-on-bullying-my-kids-w.html

About Vero

Born of German descent and adopted by a Mexican family, I am fluent in Spanish, but you would never guess until you heard me speak. Because of my unique background and upbringing, I am open-minded and embrace the Hispanic culture as part of who I am. Texas is where I was born and raised and would prefer not to live anywhere else unless it’s just where life takes me.

My faith is strong so I know that I am where the Lord needs me so I do the best I can and surround myself with as much positive energy to help lift me through the challenging times. As far as regrets, I only regret the decisions I didn't make when I had the opportunity. Therefore, I try to embrace life and the opportunities presented to me.

My family and friends are very important to me and I will go out of my way to give and help those I love or someone truly in need. I surround myself with positive and happy people because life is just too short to live any other way. I treat others how I want to be treated with respect, kindness, love, and most of all compassion. I use my life's experiences to help those less fortunate and I will not hesitate to do what I have to do for the greater good! I love animals and I don’t see myself living without a furry family because animals are nurturing for the soul.

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