Survivor, expert and activist Jodee Blanco is one of the country’s pre-eminent voices on the subject of school bullying. She is the author of The New York Times bestseller, Please Stop Laughing At Me . . . One Woman’s Inspirational Story. A chronicle of her years as the student outcast, the book inspired a movement inside the nation’s schools and has become an American classic. Referred to by many as “the anti-bullying bible,” it is required reading in hundreds of middle and high schools and many universities throughout the country. Please Stop Laughing at Me . . . has also been recognized as an essential resource by The National Crime Prevention Council, The Department of Health & Human Services, the National Association of Youth Courts, Special Olympics, The FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), The American School Counselor’s Association, Teacher Magazine and hundreds of state and local organizations from the PTA and regional law enforcement coalitions to school safety groups.
Blanco’s award winning sequel, Please Stop Laughing at Us . . (BenBella Books), was written in response to the demand for more information from her core audience—teens, teachers, parents and other Adult Survivors of Peer Abuse like herself, who have come to know Blanco as the champion of their cause. It provides advice and solutions set against the backdrop of her dramatic personal and professional journey as the survivor who unexpectedly finds herself the country’s most sought-after anti-bullying activist. Blanco also released a companion journal to Please Stop Laughing At Me… entitled The Please Stop Laughing At Me…Journal: A Safe Place for Us to Talk, in which she helps draw teens out of silence to a place of renewed self-understanding and acceptance. Chock-full of insightful quotes, practical activities, and meaningful questions, Jodee gives young readers a safe place to vent, accompanying them on a guided tour of their deepest thoughts and emotions.
62 Jodee Blanco- Please Stop Laughing At Me
Summary: Jodee’s answer to the five questions! Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes and Stitcher.
Question 1: How do you define hope or what is your favorite quote about hope?
“Hope is a true light that you have to turn on yourself and keep on despite external circumstances.” ~Jodee Blanco
“Hope isn’t something that you cling to. Hope is something that lives inside you despite external influences. That is true hope.” ~Jodee Blanco
“Hope is something that’s like this flickering candle flame inside your solar plexus that’s protected from the wind, protected from the storm – it exists because you exist.”
Question 2: Who has shared the most hope with you?
I can’t kill anything and I won’t, so in that respect Mr. Shadow and all innocent critters give me hope.
Judy Garland because she was a girl whose childhood was stolen from her and she’s the only performance artist whose vulnerability gave others strength.
Question 3: How have you used hope to make it through a difficult time in your life?
When I was a kid, from 5th grade on, I was really different. I was a very old soul, like an ancient child and I wanted to fit in, but I couldn’t. The harder I tried, the worse I got rejected. I’ve been physically beaten, I’ve been called every name in the book, I was born with a severe congenital birth defect that didn’t articulate itself until I was in the 8th grade. Once it did, I was also brutalized for that.
What was the hardest thing about being bullied?
It wasn’t the friendship and love and acceptance that is being denied that hurt. It was all the love and friendship I had to give that nobody wanted and it kept getting thrown back in my face. After a while, all that love and acceptance I wanted to give, that stopped into my system, turned into a toxin and poisoned my spirit. That’s when my hope literally went dormant. It didn’t go dead. It went dormant.
In those moments when you are at the dark night of the soul, when you go through something so deep it’s like you’re in a tunnel and you’re screaming and yet no one can hear you and you’re clawing your way to get out and you can’t and yet you could be functioning, but the minute that you’re alone, it’s like you’re in this deep, dark, terrifying hole and you can’t get out. Everyone, if they had a life well led, will go through a dark night of the soul. That’s when hope is given the chance to dance. True hope, real hope, the tough, gritty, meaningful chewy stuff of hope doesn’t come in the moment of transitory despair. It comes in the moment at the dark night of the soul. It’s like a rebirth. It’s like a whole revamping of your hope, your faith, your spirit and your purpose.
The only way to get to the other end of the dark place is go through it. Hope is something that’s hibernating within you. Once you let your body release this pain, release this angst, release this fear, most hopelessness is fear rearticulated anyways. Once you let your body release it and your soul release it, you will come out of that dark tunnel and your hope will be different. It will be deeper, it will be brighter, it will have more colors and it grows with you.
Question 4: How are you sharing hope today?
I’ll give you a great example. I was getting my nails done yesterday. I go to this same salon all the time and it’s owned by these lovely Vietnamese-American family. They have a little girl, Annabelle, she’s three years old. She’s there and this huge cricket hopped across the floor. The grandfather’s instinct is to kill it and I jumped up off of my seat and I was almost in tears and I said “Don’t kill it. That’s a sweet, little innocent creature and it sings. It makes music.” He only speaks Vietnamese, so I told his daughter to translate. “Don’t you dare kill that cricket.” The daughter translated and so they saved the cricket. Annabelle carried it outside and put it in the grass.
Annabelle will remember that her whole life. That will help her have compassion for the helpless. Help her have respect for life. I guarantee you those people in that shop will never even kill a fly again.
The other thing I do, lead with compassion. Everyone assumes that human intelligence is measured by intellectual ability. That’s crap. True human intelligence isn’t a derivative of intellect. It’s a derivative of compassion. You cannot be truly intelligent unless you have compassion. Genius and intelligence are two different things.
Question 5: How should I (the listener) begin to grow in hope or share hope today?
(1) In the moment when you’re most tired, do something that contributes to that long-shot dream that you have.
(2) On your darkest days, let yourself feel the pain, let yourself cry. Go through it. The only way to get through something is to go through something. Keep moving. Move forward.
(3) Breathing exercise: Close your eyes and breathe in. Breathe into trust. Breathe in trust and exhale fear.