Bullying in school is a real problem, and one of its long-term symptoms I have noticed is for the victims of bullying to grow accustomed to feeling ‘helpless’ in situations.
While some people seem to eventually be able to rise above ridicule, others don’t. They end up getting so used to feeling like they are the victim that later in life, when they encounter difficult or unfair situations, they automatically assume people are being mean to them. They aren’t able to distinguish the difference between mean-spiritedness and indifference.
This seems to trigger a cycle. A person is teased in school, which erodes their self-confidence. Maybe they don’t have many friends or people that they can trust. Because they are lonely and feel like many people are out to get them, when people are kind to them they have this tendency to latch on way too much. This makes the friendly well-intentioned people creeped out and the formerly bullied person comes off as needy and clingy. When the sympathetic person tries to give them constructive advice, this is often taken as some kind of betrayal and the person feels like it is coming at their expense.
Perhaps due to the bullying in the past, the person is never able to properly learn personal boundaries or challenge themselves socially. They see people in very black and white terms. You’re either their BFF or someone out to get them. They fail to see their own faults; maybe they were absolutely insufferable in High School and people were directly pointing it out to them, but they interpreted it as people Bullying them. or maybe they really did get bullied but developed annoying traits later that didn’t have anything to do with what they were getting teased over. Unfortunately by the time they are adults a lot of their attitudes can get rather cemented in place and it seems like its very hard for them to be confident enough to admit, “Yeah, I was pretty annoying” or “Roger gave me a lot of good advice in High School, and I didnt let myself really listen”.
I wonder if some of our more annoying co-workers, friends, or family members had this happen. I’ll admit I used to be like that- I was bullied in school, but convinced myself the people making fun of me were just mean and cruel, I wasn’t doing anything wrong whatsoever. In hindsight, I was really annoying to people I talked way too loud when I was excited, was clingy around people, overemotional, etc. Because I wasn’t self aware about it, I simply blamed others for it. Now, I am much more self aware, and realize just how hard it is to get people to both trust you and listen to constructive feedback.