Here’s a copy/paste of a post I made on Reddit- the original thread asking “What was the longest you’ve waited for karma to kick in?” I hope it helps someone out there who could use it.
“True story. I got bullied for roughly seven years straight daily when I was in secondary school (second level education in the UK/Ireland, taken from the ages 11-18). I had kids tell me I should die, I had my ass beat and I was emotionally destroyed by everyone who treated me like the most useless, void piece of crap. I didn’t feel like I should exist. I sat at home contemplating just ending it a lot.
I always loved art, drawing and writing. During my adolescence I retreated to the internet. I didn’t want to go to clubs where those people were, yet could still talk to people. I started posting animated Flash cartoons and comics to other people who were like me for critique. Due to the bullying directed at me, I developed a rather sad sensibility towards life and an ability to quickly come back verbally at anyone who wanted to give me abuse. It was a defense mechanism for sure, but the tone shown through in the animations and comics that I drew. Through all that, I met friends and eventual co-workers.
I now draw a cartoon called Cyanide & Happiness.
The local papers write about me. That school held an assembly in my honor once recently (I was told this by a friend who now works there). I live overseas and Jonathan Ross comes to hang out with me at Comic-Con every year, where again pictures of us appear in the local paper. My former bullies know all about this. They either avoid me in bars now or try to be my best mate (I ignore them), and I walk around my home town beaming.
There was one kid in particular who would stand behind me in assembly every morning (each year — grade to Americans — was arranged into a line in the main hall) and headbutt me in the back of the head for a laugh with the others around me. The back of my head was severely bruised for months at a time, and early on it’d leave me in tears with the physical pain and lack of respect for me. I’d dread every morning. I’d hear them behind me snickering and discussing whether he should do it or not. I couldn’t turn around to stop them, because then I’d get yelled at by teachers for not paying attention to the front. I’d have my hand at the back of my head to protect myself. I’d hear him say “c’mon Dave, put your hand down. You’re safe.” I’d eventually relent and he’d do it anyway. They’d laugh. I’d turn around and ask him to please not do that, because my head was in so much pain from the trauma he’d dealt it before. He said okay, whilst smirking. I’d turn around, I’d hear them snickering and he’d do it. Again. This went on for around two years. That kid is now a hardcore drug addict, and doing very poorly in life.
Feels good man. Thank you, internet.
Sidenote (sorry I keep editing this, but more and more is coming back to me as I read your comments): I developed a huge stutter 2-3 years in to the bullying because I was so nervous at presenting myself to these people in front of class. They eventually noticed and made fun of that, and it became a recurring loop. I’d dread every class that would potentially make me ‘read out aloud’ for fear of the humiliation. English lit was the worst, followed by French and Religious Education. The teacher in English lit would go around each person row by row in the room, making us read out large portions of whatever we were studying. As it neared me I would nearly faint with fear. I’d be sweating. I’d lose lots of sleep over this over the years. The worst feeling in the world was to be made to stand up and be made an example of in front of people that actively hate you under what felt like the guise of ‘education.’ It felt like a punishment ritual. I’d tell the headmaster, but he’d tell me I had to do it to ‘promote character-building skills.’ It took me years to get over this.
Only over the past two years have I been able to speak in front of groups of people again- thanks ONLY to the generosity of our fans, and how warmly they treat us both online and IRL. All I can say is, fucking thank you. This year I sat in front of a crowd of people and spoke at Chicago Comic Con (C2E2). There’s a youtube video of it all floating around somewhere. I think I did pretty good. Thanks for helping me rebuild myself, internet.
Epilogue: A few years ago, after C&H started taking off and I was starting to earn a living from it, one of the former school bullies came up to me in a bar and said mockingly “still drawing stick figures?” I (dunno why, just felt like it) retorted with “I could buy you.” He walked away in silence. I realize this sounds very obnoxious, and I WAS exaggerating (naturally), but since we were both 20 years old and I was doing pretty damn well for our age (better than he), I felt pretty justified. That one proper, direct moment of “in your fucking face, shithead” was worth it.
Edit: Feels cathartic putting this here, actually. Never really talked about it to anyone. Thanks guys. I’d also like to note I got laughed at a lot for using the internet a lot. It was the late 90s and these people would see it as nerdish and for ‘losers’, or whatever. Look where it got me. God bless the internet.
TLDR: Bullied at school, wanted to kill myself, somehow used how it shaped me for good and now draw a hugely popular online comic for a living, thanks to kind people like you. Basically, fuck bullies.”