Rise Above the Bully Energy


Note: Understand that you do not have to change for anyone and accept being bullied.

When I was a child, in the early 1980s, for youngsters in my home, emphasis was placed on reading books and newspapers and watching the news to expand their vocabulary and improve their language skills. They were also taught to pronounce English words correctly. For instance, an Uncle of mine would correct me to pronounce "LISTEN," as LISN rather than liSTIN. My Dad was also a strong advocate of accurate enunciation. My uncle Deremi and one of my aunts, Aunt Toyin, paid close attention to how I spoke English and made sure it was done without errors. Once a week, we would only watch morally themed cartoons. And occasionally, when Dad returned from overseas, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, and Toofan Hinde movies.

When I spoke in English as a little girl, my family noticed my peculiar accent and dubbed me "oloyinbo ile wa" (E.i., the English woman of our house). They found it amazing and funny, and they generally just laughed about it.

This background, along with my earlier exposure to TV as a TV presenter, acting, and modelling, as well as my meetings with sophisticated directors in the movie and advertising industries who place a premium on the eloquence of speaking the English language, led me to develop my expertise in the fields of phonetics, phonology, and eloquent communication in order to be more valuable to myself in my career and generation.

In my late teens, when my Dad gave me permission to start mingling with others, I was bullied by both young and older people for my way of speaking. Particularly when I switched between speaking English and Yoruba, some elderly people considered me disgusting and displayed their distaste by aggressively picking on me. I often cried home to my Dad. He would simply smile or sometimes be angry that I allowed people to get to me and take actions that would boost my self-confidence. I cried in my bed so many nights, pleading with God to take my tongue away and replace it with a new one that wouldn't cause me such agonizing pains. I was so severely assaulted that I wanted this kind of change. I eventually stopped talking around people for fear of being attacked. Clearly, my prayer was not answered.

Even at my advanced age now, some classes of people in a group still try to oppress me, clip my wings, and hide my gifts from the public eye because they view the manner in which I speak as a sign of a disrespectful demeanour, a badge of arrogance, a lack of humility, and a type of showoff.

And THIS IS WHERE I WANT TO LEAVE YOU WITH A MESSAGE. In the same way that behaviour is malleable in children, it can be in adults. You can modify any behaviour you develop as a child that negatively impacts those around you. BUT DON'T BE SAD ABOUT THE PIECES THAT GOD CREATED WITH YOU AS A GIFT—pieces that you can't even explain how they came to be in your life—gifts that some people despise you for.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN YOUR UNIQUENESS TO THIS GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS WHO REJECT UNIQUENESS. You come across as foolish and treat your situation with immaturity if you try to share with someone information they consider useless. Without being disrespectful, take a stand and speak up for yourself when you're bullied. CONTRAST YOUR ENERGY LEVEL WITH THE BULLIES. RISE ABOVE THEIR LOW SELF-ESTEEM BY PUTTING THEM IN THEIR PLACE AND STRONGLY MAINTAINING YOUR POSITION. ORIENT YOUR EMOTIONS TOWARD THINGS AND PEOPLE THAT ADD VALUE TO YOU.

I wish you a wonderful week.

Your friend and Coach, 
Damilola Ogunremi 

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