Charlie Pickering
Bullying Survivor
Male | Melbourne, Victoria   Australia
Bullied in high school
Bullying Type: Physical / Emotional
Posted By: lncredible
4/01/14 10:56 AM
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Charlie Pickering an Australian television presenter and comedian. He is best known as a co-host on comedic current affairs program The Project, previously known as The 7PM Project. He has also regularly appeared on the game show Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation as the "Generation X" team captain.

Middle-class, white, intelligent, confident, from a stable home, on the hockey team, not ugly, and yet, somehow, Charlie Pickering still managed to be duffed up on a regular basis. A smartarse from way back, his private school days are a grand reminder that just because you fit in, it’s no guarantee you won’t be singled out.

I went to an all-boys private school, and it had a strong anti-bullying policy. They were very much on about it in assembly, saying often that bullying would not be tolerated and would be punished. They’d go into detail about how physical bullying is bad, but psychological bullying is worse, so you don’t have to be beating someone up to be bullying them. Bullying was discussed and it was understood. But it didn’t stop it from happening.

For me, bullying took a few forms. I was smaller than everyone else; I skipped a grade so I was almost a year younger. I was a late physical bloomer, I wasn’t the kid that out of nowhere hit puberty like a freight train and all of a sudden had muscles and a beard. I was never that kid. I still can’t put on muscle really. I wasn’t big, and so I’d get physically intimidated by people, and I would be bullied by the guys who were always the big dumb jocks that went and did weights at lunchtime. There was a definite hierarchy, with jocks at the top, nerds at the bottom, and everyone else in the middle.

I was very good at hockey. I was actually in the first hockey team for three years. But that’s not a cool sport to be good at. You know, like, on the food chain of sports, that’s well down the list.

The bullying happened in Years 9, 10 and 11. I’d get pushed around, physically intimidated, tripped over, shoved into walls. There was a guy in my basketball team, Sam, and he’d throw the ball at my head. From behind. We were on the same team, so you’d think you’d be okay, but he was very aggressive towards me. I’d get duffed up between classes, because that’s when we were unsupervised. It wasn’t all the time, it would come and go. There’d be periods where I was targeted, and then they’d mess with me at every opportunity. It wasn’t the physical aspect so much as never knowing when they were going to be there. I was always on edge.

Kind of the worst was when someone would be threatening me throughout the day with the idea of an impending beating after school, and so I’d go through the whole day thinking I was going to have the crap beaten out of me. I’d be thinking, how can I get from roll call, out of the school and home, so that I can escape this? That’s just awful, the psychological side of it. I think the teachers were right; it is the worst. It’s much worse than the physical side; a beating is never as bad as you think it’s going to be.

I’d just get teased and picked on. I had a smart sense of humour and was quick with the comebacks, but that would escalate what was going on. It was a blessing and a curse – I had a weapon and a defence mechanism, but it often got me in trouble. The problem with having a comeback is you have the ability to make the bully look small in front of his friends, because they’ve inevitably said something really dumb to give you crap. And that’s when they escalate to violence. I’ve had guys say, ‘Right, you’re f**ked’, jump over a table and throw me to the ground because I said something that cut them down to size.

The advantage, I guess, to the anti-bullying policy, was that when I would get bullied I knew it was wrong. At no point did I think I was bringing it on myself. But it doesn’t mean you can do anything about it. I mean, the last thing you’re going to go and do is dob a bully in to the headmaster. You feel that’s only going to make it worse.

The idea of physical supremacy in a school hierarchy is celebrated everywhere. It’s how it is. I was sort of in the middle. I wasn’t one of the nerds, hiding in the library at lunchtime, but I wasn’t one of the bigger, tougher athletes or in the cool group either. The middle was a good place to be, I thought. My group of friends all found the same stuff funny, and the most important thing was our sense of humour. I was lucky to have that group around so I never felt entirely alone. That said, when the bullying happened I’d feel instantly alone. It doesn’t matter who you’re friends with because it’s one person picking on you directly and you feel threatened and intimidated, and it’s an instantly solitary experience.

I don’t really know why people picked on me. Maybe I bit back just enough to draw attention. I never hesitated putting my hand up in class. I didn’t hold back or try to make a small target out of myself, and I was a class clown and a bit of a smart-arse. But I didn’t throw up any major red flags on a bullying profile. I wasn’t any of the usual laundry list of arsehole reasons to pick on somebody for something completely beyond their control. I wasn’t poor, fat, gay, black, stinky, asthmatic, particularly uncoordinated or disabled. Maybe that was part of the point: there wasn’t a particular reason.

There’s always going to be bullying, I think. It’s part of nature. But as much as it seems when you’re in high school that the big, good-looking, stronger, faster kids are going to rule the world forever, it levels out in time.

It could be very hard, and sometimes I had to lie to everyone to give off the air that I didn’t care. It took some acting sometimes. But I reckon the best way to disempower a bully is to not care about the bullying. It takes away their reason for doing it, if they’re just like a fly buzzing around an elephant.

I never let it damage my self-esteem. There were days when I felt shitty, or threatened, or intimidated, and I would wish I was bigger and stronger and could do something about it, but at no point did I take it on board and think, ‘Maybe I deserve this? Maybe I am this shit.’

I’ve never gone to a psychologist to talk about when I was bullied; I don’t feel I need to. I’m happy, but maybe there is something that has seeped in. The idea that you should always try to make the right thing happen. Not right for you, just the right thing. I guess that’s an overarching goal.

Being bullied definitely affected my political outlook. It’s really given me a sense that governments shouldn’t be there to serve the strongest and richest; governments should be there to serve the weakest and poorest. I don’t like bullies in any form and I will always, always take the side of the victim in a bullying situation. That’s the flipside of bullying – you should always stick up for those who have no one to stick up for them.

I think, actually, that being bullied made me more resourceful; I have the idea that if things are hard I know I can dig a little bit deeper to get through something. Nothing is so bad that I’m not going to get through it. I’ve got a pattern of learned behaviour, which is, ‘Something shit happened to me and I got through it, and things are okay.’

I was well into history, and that helped. I would often go, ‘People survived proper hard stuff, why should I get to feel bad?’


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Posted By: lncredible | 4/01/14 10:58 AM
Being picked on by the big kid is nowhere near as bad as war, or death camps, or starving on the streets of India or Africa. Learning about real suffering made it really clear that my bad day was nowhere near as bad as the best day of someone else. Heaps of people have a much worse day than you.

In terms of my work, the advantage to having been bullied is I don’t let the haters get to me. I get cyber-bullied – there are things written on websites about me that are horrific – but I’m old enough to know that it is utterly meaningless. If it crossed into the real world and someone came after me physically, that’s different. But in a grown-up realm there are laws against that. What people say about me doesn’t bother me, it never will. I mean, this happens: people will say on Twitter that they want me killed. They genuinely say that they would like me to be killed. But if you listen to everyone who has something nasty to say about you, you’d never get anything done, you’d be a wreck. I’m not letting that damage my self-confidence. Who cares? Who cares what people say? In the end it’s all meaningless. Who cares what a bully thinks? Or what some idiot at school thinks? You’re going to agree and disagree with thousands of people in your lifetime, so why let one get through to you?
Posted By: lncredible | 4/01/14 10:58 AM
When I look back at the kids that bullied me, I reckon they had bad parents. My guess is they had a pretty crap time at home, and they were taking it out on someone else. But I have no sympathy for them. I’m sorry they had a crappy house to go home to, but that’s not my fault, lots of people have problems, and they don’t take it out on someone who doesn’t deserve it.

The thing is, high school is formative, but it’s a tiny part of your life, and every year that goes by you realise it more and more. None of it is there forever, and it becomes a very small part of your life. By the time you’re 22 you think the 16-year-old you was a bit of a dick. By the time you’re 25 you think the 22-year-old you was a bit of a dick. By the time you’re 30, if you look at the 16-year-old you, you’ll say, ‘What were you thinking?’ harlie_Pickering older-kids/development-for-older-kids/charlie-pick ml
Posted By: Live2LIVE | 4/01/14 11:19 AM
Great Story Thanks!
Story Details

Name: Charlie Pickering
Age: 44
Country: Australia
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Gender: Male
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