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

A Beautiful Story To Make You Smile: There’s Still Hope For Humanity!

Axani and Gallagher in Bangkok

Axani and Gallagher in Bangkok

I hate watching the news. The world seems to be an increasingly violent and depressing place and each new day brings stories of cruelty, hatred and injustice that leave me feeling helpless and in despair of humanity. However, every so often I will see a story that reminds me that there are still wonderful people out there…

Last year, Canadian Jordan Axani and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Gallagher, booked a three week round-the-world vacation for the Christmas holidays, but then they broke up before the trip took place. However, instead of letting the spare ticket go to waste, Jordan turned to Reddit in an attempt to find another Canadian girl with the same name as his ex who was willing to join him. Asking for nothing in return, his criteria was simple:

1. Be sane, smart and (hopefully) interesting.

2. Have always wanted to travel, but maybe haven’t had the opportunity or cash to see much of the world.

3. Be named Elizabeth Gallagher and have a Canadian passport.

4. Be ready for a rather spontaneous life experience that will, one day, be an epic story that you’ll tell your kids.

5. Pay it forward. I’ve been lucky in life and this is me giving back to the universe. Do something similar today.

The story went viral, Axani received thousands of applications and the lucky recipient was a 23 year old student, Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher, from Nova Scotia. Gallagher, who has a boyfriend (apparently he wasn’t hugely impressed with her plans to spend Christmas with a complete stranger), initially thought the idea was a little crazy, but was quickly put at ease by Axani in a number of conversations over the phone. They met in the airport departure lounge at Toronto on 21st December and visited eight different places – New York, Milan, Venice, Prague, New Dehli, Khao Lak and Hong Kong, before returning on the 8th January. Because Axani stopped planning the trip further when he and his ex broke up, there were no hotel rooms booked, but when Marriott International heard about it, they provided separate rooms at each stop of their journey.

Paris

Paris

New York

New York

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

It seems that they developed a great friendship, joking on their return about Axani’s fear of heights and Gallagher’s frequent ability to get lost, they had a wonderful time and I’m pleased for them both.

However, the beauty of the story doesn’t stop there. Axani was inspired by incredibly touching message that he received from and eight year-old boy who was losing his sight and wanted to see the world before he lost his vision completely, and has now set up an charity organisation with his brother called A Ticket Forward to help people travel but don’t have the money.

What a wonderful story, created by a kind and generous person. Perhaps there is hope for humanity after all!

If you wish to make a donation to A Ticket Forward, simply click this link

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