Be The Honey Badger!

The Honey Badger is a badass. Despite it’s size, it will willingly challenge, kill and eat animals that could be considered to be at the top of the food chain. A popular Internet meme and a YouTube video highlighted the concept that the ‘Honey Badger don’t care’ – it knows what it wants, seemingly has no fear  and it will go for it. While the poor grammar in the meme drives me insane, I love the sentiment.

Last year, That EJ over at the Whimsical Eclecticist discussed the concept of adopting the Honey Badger ‘don’t care’ approach to life and after reading it I was so inspired I had to resist the urge to run outside and yell “I AM THE HONEY BADGER” as loud as I could. While the fabulous post was written a while ago, I still feel that it is just as relevant to my current situation and the students that I work with.

It made me think about the importance that we put on the opinions of those around us and how we allow these to affect our confidence, self-esteem and even influence the decisions that we make about our lives.

EJ made an extremely good point:

‘Decision isn’t being based on want, or even need. It’s being based solely on fear. On ‘what ifs’. On possible negative repercussions.’

As a teacher it always amazes me how many of the teenagers that I work with who are obsessed with what others think and will change themselves for fear of not being accepted. Everything that they do and/or say is for the purpose of being viewed positively by everyone else – their look, hair, shoes, bags and phrases have to be a certain type or style in order to gain acceptance from their peers. What I have discovered over the years is that the students will put an awful lot of pressure on themselves to fit in and this results in a huge lack of confidence amongst them. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard students as young as eleven years old proclaim that they are fat, stupid or ugly and some are so paranoid about their appearance that they won’t wear headphones that are attached to keyboards (I’m a music teacher) in case their hair gets messed up. Certain students almost refuse to participate in performance based activities (that I know they actually enjoy) for fear of being laughed at. A badly-worded comment from a peer will result in tears, arguments and Facebook backlash for months and I’ve heard older girls recall something negative that was said to them several years ago as a reason why they dislike somebody.

It bothers me that they are missing out on experiences of life because of fear.

I was bullied mercilessly at school. I was clever, I worked hard and was a high achiever. A classmate made the decision that he absolutely hated me, almost from the first day, and over five years he took it upon himself to make my life miserable. He learned how to flick spit with the end of his tongue and so would spit on me every time I walked past. He told lies about me, made up ridiculous rumours, tried to get older girls to beat me up and he and his followers would tell me daily that I was ugly and wouldn’t get anywhere in life. I didn’t realise it at the time, but he absolutely destroyed my confidence – I would go home and cry, I’d fake illness in order to be allowed to stay away from school and I lived for the weekends so I wouldn’t have to feel afraid of walking up the school drive.

I left school in 1998 and I haven’t spoken to (or really thought about him) since. His comments have made absolutely no difference to the way I live my life, I am proud of everything that I have achieved and in my adult years I care less and less about the opinions of others. It isn’t that I ‘don’t care,’ it’s more a case of I prefer to value the opinion I have of myself. I’m not perfect and I make mistakes all the time, but ultimately I know I’m a good person (or at least I try to be). More importantly, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of each day, I like what I see and know that I’ve done the best I can. If somebody doesn’t like me, it’s their loss.

This is why we should take the Honey Badger approach to life. This is the attitude that I am trying to encourage my students to adopt. I don’t want to see them to living half-fulfilled lives – I want them to be able to have the confidence to accept themselves for who they are and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. And in the future, when they are faced with fear or doubt about something I want them to ask themselves… ‘What would the Honey Badger do?’

What about you guys? Do you adopt the Honey Badger approach to life?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

28 thoughts on “Be The Honey Badger!

  1. My son was watching a cartoon the other day that featured the honeybadgers. Afterwards he said that he doesn’t want to be a lion, he wants to be a honeybadger, because they are the strongest!
    I agree with you about the fear – it is the single most dangerous enemy to our goals. We should learn a lot form honeybadgers, and, more importantly, teach our children those skills.

  2. Just a few minutes ago a tearful mum phoned me. Her 14-year-old hasn’t been to school since October. Last year I taught mindfulness to fifteen young people, bullied, fearful and alienated from school. I am grateful to be able to help teens get back to school with confidence and self-esteem restored. The Honey Badger is a wonderful approach. Thank you for sharing.

  3. It took me 50 years to figure out what the Honey Badger knows instinctively: I am important first! You are in a great position to foster that attitude. Good luck.

  4. I thought it was so brave of you to share your story. Bullying has such a massive impact on people and can crush who they really are. I am so glad you see clearly who you are and are not afraid to be you. We all need to be the same – Honey badger here I come!

  5. So very sorry about the bullying you suffered.
    I was an art teacher for more than 20 years, in several schools. One year I announced to my high school students the topic of Bullying for the Values Project that I assigned every year. The kids could do any kind of art project they wished with the topic of Bullying as the main subject and a written artist’s statement to support their work.
    The projects the kids turned in were revealing in ways I didn’t expect. They were passionate about the topic. So many kids had been bullied – more than half my students had suffered at least one miserable or frightening experience. All of them understood how serious the issue was.
    Thank you for sharing what you learned about yourself and how you overcame the bully.

  6. Fantastic post, Suzie! And thanks for the name-drop. 😉 Good to see you fighting the good fight as always. The kids are in good hands.

    And as for the question… I do indeed adopt the honeybadger philosophy. I wasn’t like that through school at all. It has been since that I have learned its value, and now, I’m very glad I go with it.

  7. I needed this! I was thinking about fear recently and all the things that has happened in the past and these failures creep in once in a while and make me standstill for a looong time. Now I know what to do when fear creeps in- Be a badass Honey Badger and attack that fear. Thanks for this inspiring post.

  8. I remember those days. First it was worrying about being. Next I was worried about my skin tone. The smell of my clothes. The texture of my hair. What I’ve been realizing lately (I’m 26 now, in college after being in the military for a bit) is that many of us just trade one insecurity for another. Of course I really only recognize this in retrospect. I remember getting over thinking I was fat, for example, but then I was still worried about saying stating an unpopular opinion in class, or coming in last place in an engineering contest (yep, that happened). One thing I have worried about since transitioning from military to civilian life again is being polite or even ladylike. I felt fine cussing like I sailor when I was out on the ship–but when I got back to being around civilized people like teachers and postal workers and such, I found myself constantly thinking, “Oh gosh, am I being too honest?” or “Oh no, why did I say ‘shit?’ Should have said ‘shoot!’ They must think I’m a heathen!”

    Sorry for a long comment, but my point is yes, I try to live like the honey badger, but I don’t know to what extent I’m successful. I guess I tend to worry about things for a long time before I even realize I’m worrying. Certainly that’s how it was when I was a teen. All I thought of was how my peers perceived me!–but I didn’t realize I was doing this at the time. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, I’m glad you bring this up with your students. You really might change some of their lives. God knows I’ve had teachers do that for me.

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