Thursday, December 23, 2010

BlogBack #7: The Post That Almost Made Me Cry

Today's BlogBack spotlighted post is a very interesting one because when I initially started writing it the intention was to throw up a quick blog post so I could make my self enforced quota for the day. Instead, it quickly grew into one of my longest posts, but also became one of my most popular (I got a decent amount e-mails and phone calls about this one, along with the few blog comments). The post I am referring to is my recounting of a childhood experience known as The Day I Was The Hero.

The original reason I even started writing this personal experience was because I thought it would be an easy and quick personal anecdote that I believed some people would find mildly interesting. I had no idea that it was going to become a short story, and be a piece that resonated with so many people. The reason this personal experience was even on my mind was due to the fictional short story that I had been planning on posting here on Halloween. The story was supposed to be a ghost story, but it would have contained some deeper themes. A crucial part of the story was going to be about the boy who was pressured by the bully to enter into the supposedly haunted house. The boy was going to agree to this act because he was partly afraid of what the bully would do if he didn't, but also because he felt it was necessary to do if he would ever be accepted by his peers (the girl he had a crush on would be part of the crowd outside of the haunted house). While I was letting that story stew in the pot that is my mind, it got me thinking about my own experience as a child. I started remembering the times that I was bullied or felt like I didn't fit in with the crowd or was mistreated for not being the mythical normal. This reflection led me to thinking about the event that was told in the Hero post.

I didn't think this little event in my head would turn into the post that it actually became. I definitely did not think it would emotionally hit me the way it did. While writing that story, it really brought back a rush of emotions in me. I started remembering the way I felt when the teachers punished me for not fitting into their mold of what a child should be or when I was robbed weeks of precious recess time with my best friend or most of all, being the target of outright cruelty. It reminded me how much it really hurt to not only be picked on, but get the vibe from others that I was strange thus something was wrong with me. As painful as that memory is, it was just as sweet to recall the moment I stood up to those vile bullies. The act of writing these memories was truly a cathartic experience. It was one that brought forth unexpected emotions, including one that caused a little moistening of the eyes.

It became very clear to me that as awful as it was to be pegged an an outsider at the age of 8 years old, the experience had equipped me with traits that I am very proud of. I believe it is this time period that caused me to be the type of person that always roots for the underdog. It has made me more sensitive to those that are discriminated against or alienated from the majority. It has made me a strong advocate for human rights. It has made me into a man that believes all people deserve rights and love no matter their beliefs, religion or lifestyle (as long as it is not directly harming other people). This blog over the past year has tackled numerous events and subjects that pertain to the treatment of specific groups such as homosexuals or Muslims. I believe that period in my childhood was a major catalyst for this.

I also believe it has helped me in my fiction writing also. It taught me that there isn't truly a normal. Actually, being different is far more interesting. The reality is quirks exist in all of us. They may be things we are ashamed of due to the expectations created by society, but that doesn't actually negate their existence. My childhood made me very aware that there is nothing wrong with doing things slightly different than the rest. This has made me more aware of differences and idiosyncrasies in all people. Actually, it has made me more interested in people with obvious quirks, and I know I prefer characters with flaws or different outlooks in life or have habits that are non traditional. I like reading stories about characters that don't resemble the typical model of 'normal'. This has led me to wanting to write about characters that are original and a little unusual. I feel it allows for much better and interesting storytelling. Even more importantly, I feel it allows those stories to be more accessible to the average reader. It reminds them that it is good to not fit under the unattainable label of 'normal'. I believe these type of characters are far easier to connect with for the majority of readers, because I don't think there are too many people who really believe they are normal. They aren't, and that is good.

I was surprised by how many people were able to relate to my post about the day I stood up to bullies. It lead to some people recounting their own experiences of being picked on or ostracized as a kid. It reminded me that my childhood was far from the exception. I was ecstatic to know that my simple story was able to inspire and encourage others. It's an experience that clearly many have gone through, and can remember their own versions of. I am glad that I was able to offer the same type of cathartic experience for many of my readers. At the very least, it reminded me once again that the most fictional character is the normal person.

I learned from this experience that the underdog or the outsider is an universal story that many people can connect to. There is many that want to cheer for the oppressed and beaten. They want these people to rise above their adversity and have their opportunity to shine. This has inspired me to not only continue to write about the real life matters related to this theme, but also make it a rather big part of my fictional writing. Deep down, we all want the underdog to have their day to be the hero.

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