“Living well is the best revenge.”

Thank you, George Herbert; while I appreciate your statement, I cannot say that I agree. I first ran across that quote when I was in elementary school. You see, attending a school for nerds is a double-edged sword: on one edge, you are an easy target for bullies – they know where to find you. The other edge gives you tools: vocabulary, insight, literacy, etc. that give you a means to wittily assail those who resort to brute force to intimidate and belittle. However, that sword ends in a nasty deadly point: both sides combined provide the aggressor with a weapon of irony that cuts both the bully and the bullied, yet provides the bully with the handle and the deadly point directed squarely in the eye of the victim.

But, I digress.

A fellow nerd had just finished amusing a group of asses by being subjected to their various torments, and I asked him why, since he was taller than the other boys, did he not just punch one in the face? He may end up getting beat up by three, but at least he would have gotten one of them, and besides, that one punch may have been the one that shook the morale of the others in the troop, prompting them to desist with their shenanigans and leave him alone. Mind you, this was not an attempt to convey any bravery to a friend, I would have acted just as he did (and had done so in the past). My mind was geared toward survival: I believed that had he attacked, even if he got his ass kicked, it would have kept the fiends away from me another day. However, if he had been successful, and put the Fear in the bullies, then we nerds would have a champion and we could move about in peace. He would have to maintain his status at times, perhaps, but that was not an issue for me…

The first part of his response was that they were telling him to leave because he did not belong where he was, the second element of his response was to babble on size being irrelevant, the hydrogen atom and the energy created when split, and not making assumptions about the power of the assailants based on their apparent size. Big things, come in small packages, was basically what this fellow was telling me, and that I already knew; his words were not going to prevent any further attacks. He then added: “Living well is the best revenge.” To me, his future of living well for revenge was not changing the fact that while he was still where he was and had not left, it had changed the fact that he did not belong there. That he was not wanted there. And nothing would change that.

He had a plan, it turns out. He was going to use his superior intellect to get wealthy, the ignoramuses would be working for him and be subject to his whim. He figured that he would just bide his time. He suggested that I do the same. And so, that is what I did. I kept up my grades, got involved with the band and other band-things, and even enjoyed a moderate bit of popularity in High School. But the damage was done. I was tortured by the idea that I did not belong. That I was too different. That I was consigned to my own Private Idaho for the remainder of my life.

Still years later, I was using my superior intellect to lord over those who victimized me in the past. I have a wealth that I cannot calculate. Some of those that were my personal criminals have become public criminals and are living as residents of the penal system. Despite all of what may be consider wellness of living, I am not getting the best revenge. That is not to say that I have it bad. I live rather well, to be completely honest. My problem is that I am not completely sure that I am living well what I need to be living well.

To me, life has been a quest to understand and to be understood in kind. That may be a common theme to humanity, but I do not wish to make blanket statements. It has never been enough for me to simply look around me and be content. It has never been enough to live my own intellectual version of the “abominable fantasy,” to look at my former tormentors burning in their own private Hell has never been sufficient. I have always had a desire to be accepted, to be understood, to be validated. I wanted to be what I was and meet others like me and live a life with a collective of like-minded people who wrote together. Danced together. Ate, slept, fucked, ran together. I have always wanted to belong to something; I live the life of an outsider who wants to constantly peer inside.

But the Hell of my past tormentors keeps me from staring down and enjoying their suffering. The reason behind that is because I have not fully enjoyed my own personal Heavens: dangled before me like a grapes before Tantalus, they are stripped away just when I have grown to realize what I have. As a result, when I should be getting the best revenge, I find myself living of life of constant nostalgia for the images that were once present before my eyes. While I may see myself above them, they still have that one thing to hold over me, that one thing that was their weapon: I still do not fit in and still, I do not belong.

6 comments

  1. I really do feel you on this one. I know I said I was going to stop saying that, but I can’t. Anyway, I had the same school experience, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to go away. No amount of “living well” makes me NOT feel like the dorky girl in junior high who had no one to sit with at lunch. Or in high school for that matter, although at that point I was skipping lunch to hide in the bathrooms. Any time I am in any situation where I’m around people whom I deem as “cool”, I feel like a loser. I feel like everyone is thinking about how I do not belong there. It’s not just those types of situations. I feel that way in my own family sometimes. Like I am the odd one. I am always the odd one out. If everyone is laughing and having fun, I am in the back of my own mind observing it, even though I am joining in. However, the only situations where it bothers me are the social ones. And of course those feelings are also tied in with my social anxiety, which I am positive you share. I have to tell myself that I do fit in. And it is not those people who are pushing me out, it is my own self and my own mind. If it’s any consolation, I am always ready and willing to start a society of our own with you!

    1. That new society idea sounds fantastic, we should work on that. It is a horrible feeling that very few people understand: being bullied really fucks you up later in life. If you spend your formative years being made to feel like shit, it is hard to not carry those anxieties in later life. As for me, I walk a delicate line between tremendous ego-centrism and the horrible realization/possibility that I am the most hideous, undesirable person on the planet. That is precisely why I am a proud narcissist!

      1. I honestly know how you feel. I am at the same time completely full of myself while also feeling like the ugliest, dorkiest loser on the planet. And no amount of anyone telling me different does anything to change my mind. I’m sure you’re the same way, but it won’t stop me from telling you that you are most definitely NOT hideous or undesirable. Quite the contrary!

  2. I struggle with social situations as well. I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in, and I too was bullied as a child. Just the other night, I was telling my 7 year old son, who had been made to feel bad by his “friends” at school, about how when I was his age, I was tormented on the bus by some older kids.

    However, I don’t think we should gloat about others’ misfortunes, but rather just enjoy our own lives and find contentment for ourselves.

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