Building Character, One Bully At A Time

Building Character, One Bully At A Time

Bullying shouldn't have such a negative connotation.
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Bullying today has such a negative connotation. Bullying is something that everyone deals with at some point in their life. We are always shown documentaries on it and “worst-case-scenario” situations. At some point or another, schools make sure to give their students the bullying talk to avid any “worst-case-scenario” situations.

Well, I'm not going to sit here and write another article for you about how bullying is bad, and how no one should do it, and how it hurts people, and how we need to take action... etc. etc.

This is an article about why bullying is okay.

I definitely had my fair-share of bullies in my day and even though it sucked when the bullying was happening, I'm a better person today because of it. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself and wanting someone to defend me, I'm stronger. Instead of getting sad about someone name-calling me or excluding me, I don't waste my tears or my time.

In today's day and age, we live in a hyper-sensitive society. Everyone is quick to play the victim and point fingers at “bullies”, but no one is willing to take their bullying experience, and use it to grow as a person. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we should challenge ourselves and try to be better and prove bullies wrong, and/or embrace our flaws as right.

When we are bullied we want the bullying to stop, but we don't have control over the bullies. All we can control is ourselves and our reactions. Being bullied teaches you reality. Though many parents want their children to be untouched and kept in a little bubble, bullying is good for growth; it helps build character. Bullying teaches kids social and social norms. Yes, many bullies are malicious and have bad intentions, but bullying is part of life when it comes to relationships and social situations. Without being bullied we probably wouldn't know how to handle ourselves in certain situations. We need to stop looking at bullying as someone always being a victim. Because yeah, it's hard when it's happening, but once it's over and you look back, you appreciate that you went through the experience.

Kids need to learn they cannot do whatever they want always. There are standards that kids need to be held to, especially in school, such as respecting your teacher, doing your work, etc. For example, if a child is being disrespectful to a teacher and the other kids or teacher are “bullying” the child in return, maybe the child will change their ways. Maybe the child will realize they are exhibiting an inappropriate behavior. In these situations, the child may not ever change their ways or grow in character if they were never bullied. In a sense, bullying can be interpreted as negative reinforcement by peers.

I'm not talking about cyber bullying or physical bullying, but I am saying that many people overreact when it comes to bullying. Most bullying is name-calling, frenemy, petty kind of stuff. This kind of bullying helps children grow. Of course, there are situations where bullying is severe and malicious, and bullying should absolutely be minimized, but we need to start looking at it in a different way. People look at bullying as a problem that needs to be solved, but someone cannot grow into the person they are meant to be without some kind of constructive criticism from peers. If we aren't bullied we risk wasting our time on people who don't care. Bullying shows you who really cares and who doesn't. How people handle bullying shows true character.

Bullying is important for children's growth and maturity because it helps children to be “put in their place” so to speak by their peers instead of always their parents. If children have a bad behavior and they don't want to listen when their parents discipline them about it (If their parents discipline them about it) they will maybe change the behavior wth their peers. Bullying is a learning experience, not a curse. It's an opportunity for people to be introspective and look within themselves to find who they are really meant to be.

Cover Image Credit: http://images.wisegeek.com/two-kids-with-tongues-out.jpg

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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This One’s For Africa

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Read through to the end for an amazing Toto reference.

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It's now been a week since I stepped foot on the African continent for the first time in my life. I first visited Johannesburg, where my dad and I spent a day on an 'apartheid tour.'

This tour consisted of visiting Shanty Town, one of the poorest communities in South Africa. The living conditions were indeed different. They had to steal electricity through homemade wires connected to the telephone poles. They had only a few porta potties for ten families to share. They had several spickets to obtain fresh water from. There was no heating in the houses, which were made from pieces of painted aluminum.

Such inconvenient circumstances have come from years of oppression towards black people in South Africa. It was incredibly sad to know that these problems still exist and that apartheid only ended so recently.

On the other hand, the people showed very little anger. Despite their living situations, the people of Shanty Town were so kind and welcoming. Everyone we passed smiled and waved, often even saying hello or asking about our wellbeing.

It brought some serious warmth to our hearts to see their sense of community. Everyone was in it together, and no man was left behind. They created jobs and opportunities for one another. They supported each other.

The next part of the day included a tour of Nelson Mandela's old house. We then made a trip to the Apartheid Museum.

Overall, Johannesburg did not disappoint. The city contains a rich history that human beings as a whole can learn a lot from. Johannesburg is a melting pot that still contains a multitude of issues concerning racism and oppression of certain cultures.

After two days in Johannesburg, my family made our way to Madikwe game reserve, where we stayed at Jaci's Lodge.

The safari experience was absolutely incredible. Quite cold (it's winter in Africa right now), but amazing enough to make up for the shivering. We saw all my favorite animals: giraffes galore, elephants, zebras, impalas, lions, hyenas, wildebeests, rhinos, you name it. While my favorite animal will always be the giraffe, I don't think any sighting could beat when two different herds of elephants passed through a watering hole to fuel up on a drink.

Finally on June 1st, I flew to George to start my program with Africa Media in Mossel Bay. On Sunday, we went on an 'elephant walk.'

The safari was certainly cool, but that makes the elephant walk ice cold. We got to walk alongside two male elephants - one was 25, the other 18. They were so cute!! We got to stroke their skin, trunk, and tusks. They had their own little personalities and were so excited to receive treats (fruits and vegetables) at the end of the journey.

My heart couldn't be more full. Africa, you have become my favorite continent. And it sure is going to take a lot to drag me away from you.

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