I’m a big fan of fairy tales. I’ve heard about them from my grandmother, and then as I got older, I bought and devoured anthologies full of Hans Christian Andersen and Grimm’s Fairy tales.
The Ugly Duckling, by Hans Christian Andersen, is one of the earliest stories I remember hearing about bullying. Of course, most people who think of the story will tell you that it’s about an ugly duck who becomes a swan, and how beauty can blossom.
But when I read this story, it made me realize that others will bully anyone who is different. Ugly is just one thing.
When I was little, I was bullied by a bunch of different kids. I was called names that seem laughable to me now. Sometimes I thought that meant there was something wrong with me, but eventually, after I realized that people will pick on anyone who’s different, I decided to embrace my differentness.
By the time I got to high school, most people didn’t bother to pick on me anymore. And if they did, I turned it into a joke or insulted their lame insults. I pretended that nothing bothered me, and sometimes I even believed it.
The point of the story in the end is that the ugly duckling is really a swan, and really quite pretty. But the more important part is that the ugly duckling has become pretty because he’s among swans, among the others who are like him.
I too, eventually found my swans.
“The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.”
― Hans Christian Andersen