How Being Bullied Changed Me For The Better

How Being Bullied Changed Me For The Better

Be your strongest, most independent self because you are beautiful, inside and out.

This past weekend I had an unexpected fuckboy encounter. I don't use that term lightly because I think it's silly, but there are instances where I feel it is appropriate. This is one of those times. Let me give you some context before I get into it the fuckboy part of my tale.

I'm just gonna say it, I was bullied. Like the kind of bullied that you changed schools for. The kind of bullied where you look in the mirror and wonder why they say what they say: where you hate yourself and wish you were never born.

It started in elementary school. One second, I was in the "in crowd" and then the next I was being shoved to the ground and called beaver. I was being locked in lockers and had things thrown at me. Those kids said some of the most horrible things ever said to me. They left scars on my heart.

It got worse as I grew older. The stories they spread about me were some of the worst things that one human can say to another. The words they used...heartbreaking. I started to believe the things they said about me and I started to hate myself. It's one of the worst feelings to look in the mirror and wish you weren't born "looking like this." To feel like you were a mistake but that's exactly how I felt.

I was bullied the most over my teeth. Honestly, looking back on it, my teeth were by no means horrible. I had an overbite and my teeth were slightly crooked but besides that, they were white and strong. I begged my mom for braces every day. I would come home crying, resenting her for not helping me but she said to me, "Catherine May, you are beautiful and you have to want it for yourself, not others." Little baby me, slightly chubby, wanted nothing more than to be pretty. Looking at this picture, I see a beautiful girl who only saw the cruel words in the mirror. I don't see what I used to anymore. I see me with my thick AF hair.

This girl is by no means ugly. When I look at her, myself, I can see flaws but I see the flaws that I now love and appreciate because they make me, me. It took a long time to feel confident in myself and I got braces when I was 18 because it was my decision. I was doing it for me: not the bullies, not for the boys who would pretend to like me and date me, just to find out it was a bet to see who could be with someone so "ugly" the longest. It was painful and cruel but eventually, I decided to put an end to it. In 11th grade, I changed my whole mindset and by 12th I was confident and successful. No one bothered me because they saw I didn't care.

In 11th grade, I got rid of all my makeup and hair products. I wrote daily affirmations on my mirror saying, "you are pretty," "smile," and "you don't need to lose weight." I decided that I had to learn to love my natural self and even love my teeth before I could get them fixed. It had to be for me, only for me. Demi Lovato's, "Staying Strong: 365 Days A Year" truly helped me find strength and peace within myself. If you are struggling go check it out.

So back to the original story here, one of the boys who didn't have time for me and contributed to bullying me messaged me this past weekend, years after graduating high school. Honestly, I barely remember him, except for one memory that will be seared into my memory for a long time. It was such a basic, stupid text that said, "Hey (smiley face)." I ignored them (he sent several after the original ignored one) until I realized he wouldn't stop until I answered him. So, I said hi and asked what he wanted. He was like "Well maybe we can talk and maybe hang out?" That, ladies, is a fuckboy. I know you're probably like, "What? Why, Cat?" Well, when I was in high school, we had a hot or not list (rude) and not surprisingly, I was last on the list as the ugliest. The boys signed why the person was ugly and who thought it. One comment (before the school took it off offline) said, "I would never talk to her or touch her because she is so ugly. T.S."(This isn't the exact quote but this was the gist of it). Okay, let me get this straight, so now four years later your coming at me trying to hit me up because I got confident, prettier, and I now understand that less makeup is better than more. Now that I could give a rats ass about you, I'm good enough but only to sleep with. We all know fuckboy language, that's all he wanted. At first, I was mad, like how dare he, but then I felt sorry for him. All he could see was my face and not the person I am underneath. He'll never have a fulfilling relationship until he changes how he looks at women, if he doesn't then I pity the woman he ends up with because she deserves more.

I am a 5' 1", size zero, midget human who loves books and animals. I love my dogs and I love watching snow fall. I hate being cold and must be wearing socks at all times. I have a thing for collecting teddy bears, naming them ironic things having to do with them being bears, and binge watching "Law and Order: SVU." I love that I have freckles all over my face and body that contrast with my pale ass skin. I love my evergreen eyes and how they change colors depending on what I'm wearing. I love the bump in my nose from when I hit a tree skiing. I love my knotty, thick hair and how it's always in my face. I love my thighs and butt from all the fast food I eat. I love being a vegetarian, except I cheat and eat chicken. I love being myself, no matter how weird I get. I love being me and you should love being you. Make a list like I did and smile as you write it because each and everything you list makes you individually, irreplaceably you. If you'd like, write your list in the comment section and let's spread our beauty.

I suppose the moral of this story is that love you for you. Don't let jerks, mean girls, your parents, anyone make you feel less than the beautiful person you are. If you love yourself before you love anyone else then you will be happy. If you are being bullied now, know that there is hope and you can get out. It gets better. Suicide is never the option, even if you feel like it is. I swear, things get better. If you have body image issues, know that you are perfect. Everyone is so beautifully different and no one can make you feel something that you don't want to. It's mind over matter. If you believe it, others will too. No man or woman can make you feel like you aren't enough. Be your strongest, most independent self because you are beautiful, inside and out.

Cover Image Credit: The Huffington Post

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Don't Be Afraid To Say No If It Means Putting Your Happiness First

Responsibilities can crush you, put yourself first.

By the time this publishes, the first week of classes will be over. We'll have made it through the bliss of syllabus week and be moving on with the rest of the semester. But as I go through syllabus week and work on getting back into the swing of things, I've decided that I want to put myself first this year. Writing that sounds ridiculous. I should never have to choose to put myself first, it should always be that way. But the fact is that everything else gets in the way sometimes.

Whether it be school and grades or clubs and work or everyone else in your life, it's hard to know when you should really be saying no. I knew I had put myself in a bad position last semester. I took on too much and though I made it out okay, it's not an experience that I want to have again. So, I've been trying to think of ways to reevaluate what I do and why I do it.

First, I have to remember that above all else, anything I do I should be passionate about. If I'm not happy doing something, I'm putting myself in the backseat for the needs of others and I'm not doing that anymore. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. We're not all so lucky to be working our dream jobs. But that doesn't mean you can't work somewhere that you like. I've worked really horrible jobs and really great jobs and now I know what I deserve when I walk into work.

I also try to think about what an activity is doing for me. Again we all have to do things we don't want to do but if it helps us achieve our goals, it's usually worth it anyway. But on the other hand, just because you like doing something doesn't mean you should. Bend out of your comfort zone a little and look for the things that challenge you. It's going to do more for you than sticking to something you're already good at.

At the end of the day, what's really most important is knowing when you're happy and when you're not. If you're involved in an activity that makes you miserable and you're only doing it because you think you have to, for the love of God please just quit. You're not helping anyone, especially not yourself and no matter what, there's never anything that you need to do.

It is your life. Please, please only do what makes you happy and what makes you a better person. Turn some things down. Say no to the things you don't want to do and pursue the things you do. Choose yourself. There's absolutely nothing wrong with needing time for yourself too. You're not perfect, you're you and that's much better anyway.

Cover Image Credit: Bryan Minear

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Who Do You Live For?

It's easy to say "I'd die for you," but harder to say "I'd live for you."

In Twenty One Pilots’ “Ride,” there’s some lyrics that stand out: “I’d die for you, that’s easy to say/...‘I’d live for you’ and that’s hard to do.” Meaning, it’s easy to say you’d die for someone, but it’s significantly harder to say you’d live for someone.

I’ve struggled with that my whole life. For many years, I didn’t have anyone to turn to. I struggled (and still do) with anxiety and depression, and there were days where I wondered who I’m doing this for, why I do certain things, who I’m living for.

For many years, I felt completely alone. I had no friends. My parents and I didn't have a good enough relationship where I could simply come talk with them. I was even scared to confide in my trusted grandmother, because scared younger me didn’t know if she'd tell my parents or not. I internalized way too much, and it destroyed me inside. All that internalizing made me feel isolated, like I wasn't good enough at anything, and I began to question my existence and who I was living for.

It took time. It took switching schools, finally making friends, and gaining new opportunities to explore my identity and what I enjoyed doing. It took venturing into community theater and meeting my boyfriend of a little over two years now. It took living on my own in my first two years of college, gaining independence and strengthening my relationship with my parents. It took making new friends and losing some along the way.

It took four years out of my 20-year lifespan to realize that I did, in fact, have people to live for.

I have my parents, with whom I’ve resolved past struggles and grown closer to. I have my sisters, who still occasionally drive me crazy--but we're not fighting endlessly anymore. I have my grandparents, particularly my amazing grandmother who had always seen and supported the version of me that was hidden away until switching schools allowed her to emerge.

I have my incredible boyfriend, who has become one of my biggest reasons to get through every week and is the reason I can finally envision a future. I have my best friend, who calls it like it is, gives me tough love when I need it, and is an all-around awesome person.

To anyone else who thinks they’re alone or don’t have anyone to live for, look again. You have family, friends, who love you wholeheartedly, who would miss you beyond words if you weren’t there anymore.

To quote “Dear Evan Hansen,” “You are not alone.” You’re never alone, especially in your feelings. There are so many other people who feel exactly like you do. Find them. Remind each other that you’re not alone and there are others out there who understand.

If you ever feel this way, please check out "Dear Evan Hansen." The music alone will help. I also recommend making a playlist filled with favorite songs, pick-me-up tracks, or songs that, like "Dear Evan Hansen," describe what you're feeling or going through on the nose. I have one for myself, and it has a mix of all three. It's gotten me through countless low points purely through the healing power of music. A playlist like this can help you, too.

And remember, you always have someone to live for: yourself. You are always enough of a reason to keep going. Never forget that.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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