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I had a mean streak. When I was in first grade, there were these two kids that I used to bully all the time. One was a boy and the other a girl. I'll never forget their names until the day I die. God, I was so mean to them. I'd pinch them for no reason at all, and at one point I'd stick them with mahjong and I'd even press hard so it would hurt. I don't know the official name of mahjong but it's a kind of weed that has thorny/spiky flowers/seeds. I think I probably punched the boy, too.

As for the girl, well, she was almost my neighbor and there were so few people living near our place that time and we were the only ones with a TV set, so this girl and her brothers and friends would come to our place to watch TV, and I'd be there watching them. Closely. They'd watch TV from outside our window but we had these flowerbeds right beneath the window and my mother always made sure that they never stepped on these flowerbeds. So taking cue from this, I used to beat their feet with a stick if they even so much as step on a single plant.

After first grade, I stopped bothering these two kids. I guess it also helped that we weren't in the same section. I didn't bully anyone else during my elementary years. Then, high school, there was this one classmate during freshman year that I used to mercilessly tease. I didn't get physical or anything like that but I teased and joked about her so much she'd end up crying. And the jokes weren't even that funny. I was doing it just to be mean.

I saw this high school classmate about a year ago, and I've made my apology and, hopefully, peace.

I have not seen the boy and the girl from my elementary years. I know the girl is probably married now. I know her family and they still live in our neighborhood. The boy...I really don't know what happened to him. His brother is about the same age as my older brother and I've seen him around but we're not friends, so.

Knowing these things about me bothers me. Actually, it more than bothers me. It shows me, in no uncertain terms, the cruelty I'm capable of. Now that I am older, I like to think that I've mellowed down a bit. After much thinking, I realize that my being a bully was my way of reacting (badly) to unfamiliar territory. If you notice the pattern, I was only ever cruel to my peers when I felt insecure and unsure about my surroundings. Now, when faced with more or less the same circumstance, I just withdraw and put my guard up and act like I don't care. It's not the best way of coping. I'm trying.

I still have that mean streak.

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