It is Okay, You are Not Broken



Things don’t always go the way we expected and there are times when it feels like the world is crashing down around you.  Even when things are at their worst it is okay, you are not broken.  These moments in our lives actually play a very important role in our growth process and perspectives.

Even when things are at their worst it is okay, you are not broken

Today I am going to share with you a portion of my life story and how I went from feeling broken to being the man that I am today.  These moments that follow here were all key components in helping me to define who I am today.

A Rough Start to Life

Starting school raised my anxiety levels

My early days in life were fraught with anxiety and a tremendous lack of confidence.  School life was not easy at all with those two traits dominating who I was.  It was hard for me to make friends and often became the victim of verbal bullying.

It is amazing how at almost 40 years old now, I can still remember the pain of words spoken to me back as far as kindergarten:

Our teacher had told us one day how our heads were shaped like apples.  This would spark the earliest verbal abuse in my school life.

While doing our classwork that day I could hear the two kids right across from me having a discussion.  The one had brought up the bit about apples and was saying that I was more like a pumpkin.  Those words pierced right through me and hurt a lot.

Thankfully though, the other kid was smart and kind enough not to go along with the statement and he played dumb as to who the other kids was talking about.  Of course the other kid was determined to get his point across and pressed the matter, but the other guy stood fast.

Those words of my head looking like a pumpkin haunted me for a long time

This incident stuck with me for a long time though.  It was the first of many occasions where I would be the victim of bullying in one form or another.  Needless to say, when you are suffering with anxiety it just made everything worse for me as I crawled in that hole inside my head.

Years would go by and it was all a lot of the same for me.  I would always try to fit in and be cool, but without any confidence in myself I never got very far.  I would spend the majority of my school career stuck in mediocracy.

Things Began to Change

My Freshman year of High School was much like every other year of school up to this point, I didn’t quite fit in and a new bully had taken the reigns over my life.  This time around German class is where I would suffer from his cruel words.

The pressure inside of me was building

However things were starting to get different for me at this point and I started making a concentrated effort to just ignore the guy and what he was saying and doing.  Little did I know though, it was all building up inside of me like a pressure tank getting ready to explode…

It was closer to the end of the school year as we had just gotten our classes for the next year.  I wanted at the time to learn multiple languages and had also taken Spanish the next year to go along with the German I was already taking.

When the bully heard that I was taking two language classes he leaned up from behind me and punched me in the back.  That apparently was the last straw I could take and I exploded into a verbal assault against him.

While everyone else in the class was stunned, he thought it was funny and wanted to fight me.  I however had no intentions of fighting and sat back down in my seat.  He tried to choke me but I grabbed his throat and threw him off me, remaining in my seat still.

He came back again with a choke move and before I launched him off of me towards the windows a senior in the class broke up the fight.

This was the first step for me in coming out of my shell and learning that it wasn’t me that was broken, but it was the bullies themselves that were.  Having successfully stood up for myself had given me the first seeds of confidence that I needed to begin the turn around process.

I had a growing confidence in myself

With that little boost to my confidence and the bully backing off after the incident, everything started to change for me.  My perspectives on life started to grow and evolve and I went from being anxious and not confident to being more understanding of life with a growing confidence in myself.

The following year I had my first real relationship with a girl and again it was a huge building block in my foundations that I was now building for my life.  We were pretty serious for a few months, but in the end it didn’t last and my heart was broken.  However, unlike in the past I didn’t let the event hold me back but rather let it propel me forward.

The Moment Everything Changed

To this day I still laugh a little when I think about this story as it just seems like the oddest thing to help take a maturing anxious kid and vault him into a young confident man.  What is this little thing?  Well that my friend is the fact that I knew how to do the Chicken Polka Dance.

It was my Sophomore year Valentine’s Day dance and despite the recent breakup I was in good spirits.  Not to far into the dance the DJ played the Chicken Polka, which I had just learned how to do a few weeks earlier.  I went out onto the dance floor and began to “cluck” away at it, but I was the only one.

Soon, a few others starting coming out and asking me what I was doing and I explained I was doing the song’s dance and started teaching them how.  By the end of the song there was a bunch of us out there dancing along.

After the song was over is when things started to get strange for me.  Everyone wanted the DJ to play the song again and it soon became the conversation everyone was having.  Despite the various requests the DJ was not playing the song again and people started coming to me asking me to see if I could get him to do it.

I begged the DJ for my popularity’s sake to please play the song again

At this point I remember quite clearly begging the DJ for my popularity’s sake to please play the song again.  Then came the last song of the night and everyone perked up, but it turned out to be a slow song to close out the night.  The wave of disappointment was palpable, but we all paired up with our partners and danced on.

However, the DJ had played a trick on us.  You see all along he had the Chicken Polka queued and ready to go and as the last notes of the slow song faded he played it!

The energy that night was tremendous.  We burst into the chicken dance and formed circles dancing around and around.  The hot senior girl that I had a huge crush on pulled me into the inner most circle where we laughed and danced.  By the end of the dance though I had moved into the very center of all the circles and bust the dance out solo.

Who would have ever guessed knowing how to do a polka dance would be the key to me turning the corner and pushing forward in life with confidence.

What Had I Learned That Helped Me to Change?

I knew that it was time to change and to create a better life for myself

You see during this pivotal time in my life I stopped looking at myself as broken and started accepting myself for who I was.  I came to realize that others picked on me because they were just trying to make themselves feel better not because I was wrong for being me.

As I stepped back and really started to look at the motivations behind people’s actions I began to feel sorry for those that were so mean to me.  I realized that they had their own unfortunate circumstances in life and used bullying as a way to try and make themselves feel better.

The other and probably most important thing that I learned through this phase of my life is that in order to experience positive feelings, I had to endure the negative ones as well.  Its all part the balance of life and is the key component how we learn.  Our trials and tribulations are the reason that we cherish the good moments in life.

It was also at this point in life where I decided that I no longer wanted to be unhappy.  I wanted to feel good about who I was and where I was going in life.  When I made that realization, it was like a light switch for me as I started creating a more positive life for myself.

Placing Your Focus in the Right Place

Just like a camera, you need to make sure your focus is right to get a good picture of life

If you take all of this and asked me to sum it up in a sentence, I would tell you that you just need to make sure you are putting your focus in the right place.  All to often when feeling down we are focused on the bad things happening and we forget to pay attention to all of the good things going on in our life.

I recently wrote an article called:  Enjoy Little Things Life Give You, It Is What Matters The Most that gets into helping learn how to adjust yourself to take notice of all of the little good things that happen to you on a daily basis.

Another article that I wrote that ties directly in with this concept is:  Everything Happens For A Reason.  Some of the worst things that happened in my life are now some of the things that I am most thankful for having happened to me now.  This is because I came to the realization that who I am today is because of all of the life experiences that I have had.

Everything happens for a reason.  Live, learn and love.

If you are feeling down on life right now I highly recommend that you give these other two articles a read as well as I think they will help you to get a better perspective on life.  There are other articles here that could help as well, but these two are definitely worth the time.

Share Your Experiences With Us

Lastly I would ask you to share your experiences with us and how you may have overcome your own negative situations.  With each story shared we add more and more perspective to the puzzle and the more of that we have the better chances of someone learning from their visit here.

In closing I would like to leave you with a quote that happened across my personal Facebook feed earlier today.  I thought it was very interesting to have happened by when it did as it is very pertinent to the content here today.

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

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Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to share!

James W D

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8 Replies to “It is Okay, You are Not Broken”

  1. Hi James,

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your story. Growing up I was bullied multiple times but instead of being bullied by strangers, I was bullied by my siblings and cousins. In a way, it has made me a strong person and that no I wasn’t fat and stupid. As an adult and a parent I encourage my children to be kind to others and to them selves. The key is to realize that others sometimes are the broken ones, that they need to put others down to make them selves feel better. Raise your head up high and set your goals! As you achieve what you set out to do you will realize that things happens for a reason and that it has helped in a way or form that has made you the person you are today. Great article!

    • Eloah, Thank you and you’re welcome! Bullying is a sad thing that many people endure from both sides of the fence. As you stated often the Bully is reacting out to make themselves feel better for their own problems, which often includes being bullied by someone else too. After standing up for myself is when I really came to realize that and between the two helped keep me from ever experiencing it again. This is why we need to break the cycles of violence with love and forgiveness.

  2. This is a GREAT website. I know from first hand experience what it takes to get your mind ready to dive in and make changes that can help your life, so that you can be happy again. I learned that you have to be happy with yourself in order to be happy with others. I think your site is great. And more people need to read articles like this one. Great job!

    • Thank you very much I really appreciate the comment! Your statement is very true in that it is near impossible to be happy with others when you are not happy with yourself first. Our lives are a reflection of ourselves and that is exactly why you need to be able to love and forgive yourself first in life. By doing that it will allow you to also transfer that same love and acceptance to the rest of the world.

  3. Damn, that’s pretty touching and inspiring. Honestly, I just wouldn’t be able to think the way you do here. Good job.

    • First thank you. Secondly, never give up on yourself Julius. You can think any way that you want to if you put in the effort to do so. Just like in sports, you get better when you work on it and practice, the same goes for how each of us think.

  4. oh, James, you made me cry again! I could really relate to your story, and it was if I were reading my own life’s tale. Life is tough and can be cruel, but we can’t let our experiences define who we are. You rose above at a fairly young age, whereas, it took me DECADES before having this revelation. I know there are so many lost souls out there feeling utterly broken, that really need to read this! Mind if I share?
    Thanks, again, for your amazing insight!
    Be Well!

    • Hi Barb, nice to see you stop by again. Not sure if I should apologize for making you cry again or if that is a good thing 🙂

      I was very fortunate to have this revelation at a young age and I am very thankful for that. As for sharing please feel free to do so, that it why it is out here as it is.

      You are very welcome and thank you for visiting.

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