As a kid growing up in the same elementary school for ten years, it was really hard to redefine who I was in the eyes of the other kids. Everyone knew who I was from grade 4 to grade 8, and that I was the "loser" among other "losers" in school. And what sucked even more was having to see the new kid learn who I was before I had the chance to make friends with them.
I became a very angry person after that. Hating every day, going to school only to be teased for stupid reasons; such as wearing pants that covered my butt (baggy pants was the thing back then) or covering the end of the spoon because I wanted it to be clean when I used it at lunch. But I knew I was different, I was always told by my parents that I was an old soul in a young body - probably because I grew up with three older siblings.
But what made it harder each and every day was the fact that I had no outlet. I had kids teasing me at school and older siblings teasing me at home. I had no way to release the pressure that was building up within. However in grade 6, I found out that I wanted to do karate. It fascinated me and I knew that if I ever had to defend myself, learning karate would help. It's also the time that I knew I was gay, only another reason to feel different from the other kids. But, I kept this a secret until high school (that's another story).
Going to karate helped, it gave me a place to try again and redefine who I was back then. It allowed me to make friends and know that if school was really crappy that day my friends in karate class would help me feel better. And I am lucky that my parents found the extra money to let me go or I wouldn't know who I would be today. I have been training for 13 years now, I've started my own personal training business because karate taught me about fitness.
But now as I teach, I am able to help other kids who get bullied at school by teaching them that it's alright and that they have someone to talk too. I have also had the opportunity to turn other kids around who do bully because if they want to learn self-defense and love to come to class, they need to know that Sensei James does not teach bullies how to do karate.
I hope other kids find their escape - whether it's karate or any other hobby out there and I hope that parents take the initiative in making this possible. Because if my parents did not make my wish come true I do not know the type of person I would be today.
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.