When I was in college in NYC several million years ago, I was walking along Madison Avenue -not the fancy part, but lower down in the 30’s – (before it was built up and gentrified with residential real estate and actually became an overpriced neighborhood.)
Back then it was still known to me as the best place to get “Ladies drink free Margaritas nights” and mayonnaise drenched tuna sub sandwiches that could easily feed a family of four yet somehow, magically, I could inhale in 45 seconds tops.
So I was walking around humming to myself ( yes I have a habit of talking and singing to myself- something I have been doing my entire life – possibly a coping mechanism for being ignored by my siblings ?) when a homeless man came out of nowhere and followed me for several blocks- calling out at the top of his lungs in the loudest voice:
“She’s ugly!” (referring to me) “You’re ugly!!!” “Ugly! Ugly! Ugly!”
This went on for innumerable blocks – an eternity to a young, sheltered, college gal like myself- until I ducked into a liquor store to seek protection (no, they did not card me or kick me out- which was common back then before Lindsey Lohan made underage drinking a sport for club bouncers) and he followed me in – simply to shout out one more time and point out to the patrons staring nearby :
“ THAT GIRL IS UGGGGLLLLLY!!!!!”
Now, we all have our good and bad hair days and this was college when I was on a tight budget that mostly was used for essentials such as pizza and pot and most definitely NOT used for the nonessentials like say, shampoo, and I MAY have gone through a short Goth phase – donning lipstick in shades darker than my jet black hair – however, I have never been accused of being “ugly” before that.
There is something you need to know about the homeless men on the streets of New York – they speak the truth. They have no concern for common courtesy or need for political correctness, and they certainly have no qualms about yelling at you for giving them sushi leftovers when they hate raw fish.
That being said, I am a lucky girl that was raised by a father, whom for my entire 40 years of life that I was lucky enough to know him, taught me that I must do what I think is right; not pay attention to what others think of me and know that I am a smart and beautiful person. He never cared or paid attention to what others thought of him and frankly, neither do I.
I learned from example that I am capable of doing many things and the confidence he instilled in me has always pushed me through all aspects and phases of my life and taught me many important lessons.
So, there I stood – confronted by a man who relentlessly attacked my visual appearance. The way I saw it, I was left with two choices:
- I could believe what he had to say and decide to take it to heart and accept his opinion as true OR-
- I could choose to believe what I wanted about myself and add this to my roster of “who cares what others think of me” and become even stronger for it.
I chose the latter.
(Then, like a shrieking crybaby, I ran as fast as I could to the nearest bodega and bought a tub of Ben and Jerry’s.) Problem solved.
Life is full of bullies. You can decide to take what they have to say to heart and let it internalize and eat away at your well being or you can choose to ignore, delete, or simply avoid the nonsense and know you are a better, stronger person from it.