Remember that kid in the back of the class who was never talked to? Who was never picked for teams? That nerdy runt who was stuffed in lockers, got food thrown at him, got pushed around in the halls? The boy all the girls laughed at while saying ‘Not if he was the last boy on earth’?
That was me.
I was bullied on a regular basis. I had the freckles, goofy haircut, skinny frame, and I was smart. I was the student who always raised his hand for questions, and always gave the right answer. Until I decided being smart wasn’t cool. It seemed my intelligence played a big factor in getting the crap kicked out of me. So I stopped raising my hand, stopped showing my intelligence. I tried hiding even deeper in the vague identity of ‘that boy”. But it didn’t help.
It was freshman year when I reached my breaking point. I had enough and one unlucky bully got every ounce of frustration and anger I had inside me. He put me in a headlock and laughed. I didn’t find it funny at all. I wormed my way out of the headlock and swung with every bit of fury I had bottled up inside my scrawny little body. And I knocked him out with one punch.
The people who had gathered around went quiet. I knocked out one kid and, by doing so, I silenced an entire school.
From that moment, my life was different. I never lost a fight throughout the rest of my years in high school. I went on to become a competitive fighter, only losing two fights… my first and my last. I became a professional bouncer facing people of all sizes. I never went down. In my lifetime, I have stared down the barrel of three guns, had multiple knives pulled on me, and been in several situations where I’ve had to fight multiple assailants.
I am still standing. I am still in one piece. And now, I must fight once again.
People have the wrong idea about being tough. Being ‘tough’ isn’t about the biggest muscles, the hardest punch, or the worst attitude. The art of ‘being tough’ is being able to make the other person believe that you are. You have to find a way to exude confidence, even during those moments when confidence is lacking. Trust me, I am not invincible. Deep down inside, there’s still a scared kid who thinks he doesn’t have a chance in the world. But I refuse to allow myself to believe it. More importantly, I absolutely will not allow YOU to believe it.
How does all of this apply to Blatant Self Promotion?
As writers, we have one goal: To get our stories out into the world. To do that, we need people to take an interest in our work. We need them to spare some of their hard earned money to purchase our books, our stories. That doesn’t happen without promotion. If we are not willing to talk about ourselves, about our work, no one else will want to either.
Think of that bully I faced in the ninth grade. Had I shown hesitation or fear, he would have gained the upper hand. I would have been back in a headlock, being laughed at and ridiculed. If my moment of conviction had failed, where would I be today?
Be proud of who you are and believe in yourself. Shout from mountain tops, “I am a writer, read my story!” You poured your heart into every word of your manuscript and it deserves to be read. No matter how nervous or terrified you are, talk about your work and yourself every chance you get. Whatever you have faced in your lifetime, you are still here, still standing tall, and you are chasing your dream.
The worst bullies are all the little voices inside our heads that tell us we can’t. Silence them. Allow your voice to be heard. Don’t let self-doubt to push you around or get in the way of your success. Steady your trembling hands and nervous voice. Stand tall and bestow your dreams and ideas upon the world.
That moment when you realize you faced the bully and won… it’s an amazing feeling.
And, if you ever need a champion, someone to stand by you and shout with you, find me. I’ll be directing the 2016 Pikes Peak Writers Conference, April 15th-17th, 2016.
(You see what I did there?)
When he's not working with the dedicated and passionate people of Pikes Peak Writers, Jason P. Henry is lost in a world of serial killers, psychopaths, and other unsavory folks. Ask him what he is thinking, but only at your own risk. More often than not he is plotting a murder, considering the next victim, or twisting seemingly innocent things into dark and demented ideas. A Suspense, Thriller and Horror writer with a dark, twisted sense of humor, Jason strives to make people squirm, cringe, and laugh. He loves to offer a smile, but is quick to leave you wondering what lies behind it. Jason P. Henry is best summed up by the great philosopher Eminem “I'm friends with the monsters beside of my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.” Learn more about Jason at www.jasonphenry.com.