When I was a kid, I loved learning and I got real results in skipping a couple of grades.
I skipped Grade Five.
The academic adjustment was a breeze. I always thrive with a challenge.
But Grade Six was filled with kids who resented the fact that I skipped and they did not. I was teased and shunned, to put it mildly.
And then we had to go to junior high that had kids from other schools who found out, and then the bullying doubled because there was a new batch of angry and jealous kids who thought they would make trouble for a nice, sensitive kid like me.
Nothing I ever said or did was right in their eyes. I didn't dress the right way, look the right way, speak the right way. I was picked on from every possible angle.
In those two years, I did not take the bait. I stood my ground, and held my head high. The teasing was relentless, but I didn't play on the board. I was a good student, even in stressful circumstances. My dignity and self-worth was not dependent on the opinions of others. My teachers used to praise me for it. I didn't try to do things to curry favour with my detractors. They could believe whatever they wanted, but I was me, deal with it, and that's that.
I ignored the taunts for two years, and then came Grade 8.
And it was as if nothing had happened. Everyone got over it, and I was socializing, and had the best year ever.
Nothing actually changed. I was still me. I was still getting great marks. I dressed the same, spoke the same, thought the same, the difference was that I hadn't changed no matter what bullying game was played.
I was not going to let the detractors rig my life or change who I was. They were not going to take away my heart or soul, alter my thoughts or my feelings or keep me down.
And if they wished to elevate themselves and be kind, then I would ignore the past and socialize as if nothing had happened. I wasn't the one who was going to hold a grudge. Nothing to prove, no axe to grind, none of it.
It brought me one epic escapade of a year.
I could stand alone. I could be one in a crowd.
I don't carry baggage from that era at all.
But I did carry the lessons of it.
And used those lessons to build F.R.E.E.D.
It is the system of not taking the bait and not losing focus.
It is about not losing dignity by getting roped into to artificial arguments.
Journalists always thought their strength was by pretending to always be the heroes of every narrative they spun, but F.R.E.E.D. isn't about injecting yourself as a hero.
It is about the facts. It is simple and straightforward. It can bypass the taunts and the petty arguments because facts are the atomic representation of reality.
It is a far simpler and cleaner way of assessing the landscape. Not by mob taunts. Not be manipulative decrees.
Just the facts...