There I was growing up in a small town back in the woods on the island of Hawaii. Never naturally being a confident young girl, I found it hard to make friends. For me, the main reason I was an outcast had to do with my nationality. Being caucasian in the Hawaiian islands was complicated. I recall my mother kindly explaining that it was not okay for anyone to treat me differently due to the color of my skin. The concept was difficult to comprehend as a young girl. After my mother explained some of the Hawaiian island’s histories, I began to see why the kids were mean to me at school. Yet, my curious mind spawned more questions. “What did Captain Cook’s invasion of the Hawaiian Islands have to do with me making friends?” When would I make friends in my class,” and many other questions flooded my brain.
All humans begin developing self-confidence from the day they are born. It is very crucial for kids to feel safe, loved, and essential, no matter where you are in the world.
By nature, kids do not comprehend racism. Most children love all, and my mother was a hippie who taught me and brothers that all humans are equal. Meanwhile, I still did not understand why other kids were calling me Haole. My mother took the time to point out other examples of racism, and I remember the entire scenario breaking my heart and confusing my soul.
I tried to understand why others would be so mean and bully me when they did not even know me personally. One sunshiny afternoon on the playground, a boy yelled Haole and thew rocks at me when I was in pre-school, that was my first encounter with schoolyard bullying. There were many other instances while I grew up in Hawaii.
Again, it is tough for a kid to understand why they are getting bullied. And due to a lack of awareness, I struggled with bullies well into high school. At times, I thought it would never stop. It took the support of a therapist to help me navigate bullying at school, but I felt alone when I found myself bullied at work. When I was a kid, my mother steadily reminded me of why I am unique to the world. As a young adult in the world, how would I maintain confidence as an adult in a compromising situation at work?
In my early twenties, I found myself confused and lacking self-confidence out in the real world. Back in the year 2000, the internet was nothing like it is today, and cellphones, as we know them today, had not been invented yet. I know it may seem hard to imagine, right?!?
At that time, I was living in my apartment and communicating less with my parents, or not at all. Life became complicated with all the adulting tasks. I had no idea how to navigate a bully boss at work. It reminded me of when I was young, and only some of the advice my therapist had given me applied to this situation. It felt very different and more complex, considering my bully was also my superior.
Coincidentally, my bully boss reminded me of my bully, stepdad. He was the kind of person who would crack a joke at you to put you down. I never understood his humor of mocking people. He is a very witty man; one would even say genuinely humourous. We have always had a problematic relationship, which also lessened my inner self-confidence. Download the free gender confidence ebook to guide you. Click here!
Reporting to someone who continually puts you down, picks apart your work, and makes you feel like you are not good enough causes for a torturous work environment. There were many differences between my boss and my stepdad. First, my boss was a woman. Yep, that is right. Her name was Caroline, and she was tough as nails. In the two years, I reported to her; I never got anything right. She made negative comments about my clothing. Because I was young, I shopped at the thrift store when I first started that job. My pastel pink wrinkle-free silk flower shirt was outdated. So what if my clothes were a super retro, the outfits were clean and well put together. Ms. Carolines comments reminded me of being bullied at school.
The strange thing is I thought I looked up to her even though she picked on me. Somehow, I associated this toughness she exuded for affection, just the way my stepdad picked on me in a “loving” manner as a child. It’s almost as if I felt the more she picked on me, the harder she was pushing me, supportively. That was not the case!
People who are never satisfied or pick on others and use humor as an excuse to do so have internal struggles they have not processed. Personally, it took me a very long time to understand those types of authoritative figures and why they operate that way.
Today, there are resources like this foundation that can help you build inner confidence to combat these types of scenarios. Most of my personal experiences I have lived lead me to create a nonprofit supporting women’s rights. It is up to us to preserve the rights of women and close the wage gap. Show your support by making a donation.