When I was a kid I remember getting into a fight at school. I believe I was in fifth grade and it was the first time I ever had to go to the office. I didn’t even start the fight; I got jumped in the bathroom by two bigger kids I didn’t know. To this day I don’t know the reason why they attacked me, but I remember being afraid—not of them, but of getting in trouble.
I went back to class after the fight. I only had a bruised cheek because the two gave up on pummeling me when they realized I wasn’t going to back down and figured I wasn’t worth the trouble. When I returned to class the teacher didn’t notice anything was up and I sighed with relief. I wasn’t going to get into trouble. That’s when the unthinkable happened—and by unthinkable, I mean complete stupidity on the part of one of the bullies who jumped me.
I was sitting at my desk in the middle row and the teacher was going over her lesson, then the door slammed open abruptly. “I was using the bathroom and he came in and punched me all up in my mouth for no reason,” the idiot bully yelled to the teacher while pointing at me.
Oh fuck, I thought to myself. Why the hell did he have to be so stupid? I assumed he probably thought I was going to “snitch” on them, but all I really wanted was to be left alone. Of course, the teacher immediately rushed over to me assuming I was the real victim (the moron bully turned out to be on the watch list because he was fresh out of juvie for violent behavior. Surprise!). She saw the bruise on my face and put things together rather quickly.
Somehow, we all ended up getting sent to the office. How they knew who the other culprit was I don’t know; I didn’t even know who either of them were until after we got in trouble. In the end, I didn’t get in trouble at school for the fight, but they had to call my mom to let her know what happened. This is was bothered me.
I knew my mom wouldn’t yell or punish me even if I had started the fight, but she would want to talk to me about it. I hated talking about my problems. The last thing I wanted to do was sit down and describe how I was bullied for no reason. For the rest of the school day and the whole bus ride home a cloud of anxiety loomed over me. This was a problem I couldn’t run away from.
I was a little relieved when I arrived to an empty house. That meant my mom was working late and wouldn’t be home until after I went to bed. This gave me one more day to avoid the inevitable talk. I started formulating plans on how I could avoid her until I was old enough to move out on my own. We would never have to talk about the stupid fight! This seemed like reasonable logic at the time.
That obviously didn’t work out for me. She came home early and we had a very unremarkable talk about the incident. It was seriously a 30 second conversation.
“Did you get in a fight today?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Did you start it?”
“Are you okay?” she asked with no emotion.
That was it. All that anxiousness and planning on how to avoid the problem for nothing. I did learn a valuable lesson, though. And while I still struggle with it to a certain degree, I know running away from your problems never helps anything. No matter how much you think it may suck, you must face your problems head on.
A lot of people run away from their problems by abusing alcohol, drugs, religion, or they actually run away. But those problems are always still there—nagging, eating away at you. You’ll never be fast enough to outrun your problems. The best thing you can do is accept the challenge and face what’s coming to you.
We are faced with many obstacles in our life, but it’s up to us to overcome them. Trying to take shortcuts around them only delays the inevitable. At some point you’ll have to deal with your problems, so you might as well deal with them as soon as possible. There are a few healthy ways to do this.