Twenty years ago, a bully was someone who stole your lunch money or someone who shoved you against a locker. In today's age, bullies come in all sorts of forms. It was easier to identify who was a bully when they fit a stereotype, but now, they can be just about anyone can be a bully--your former best friend, the quiet kid in the corner of class, or even someone you never met before. I’ve dealt with bullies and I didn’t even notice till a teacher pointed it out one day. Here is my story.
Preteen years is a hard time period for anyone. It’s hard to understand how to fit in, who to be friends with and who to avoid. During this time, you tend to change who you are for the need to fit in--to be part of a group-- just so you’re not the freak or weird kid. Ever since I was a little girl, my favorite thing to do was to make people laugh--something I inherited from my father. Now, I’ve always been a ditzy person (I think it’s because I don’t taken life seriously), and I love laughing and making other people laugh. However, I started to embrace this “blonde stereotype” side to me ,and never really shut it down (I didn’t realize the effects it would have on me in the future). I started to be labeled as the stupid girl or the dumb girl, but it was something I just always brushed off my shoulder. I thought "as long as I’m making people laugh, who cares if that’s my label?"
One day in high school, a teacher noticed the name-calling and the actions towards me that was going on and it was reported. After a couple of meetings with the principal and guidance office, I learned that I was, in fact, being bullied. That was something that would never have crossed my mind, because the people that were doing it I considered my friends. I was so unaware of what was happening and how much this bullying was affecting me, that I began changing. I had started not wanting to go to school, and I never raised my hand in class in fear of being wrong. My grades were dropping because I thought "what was the point of studying when I knew I was going to fail". I even hated thinking about my future because I never thought I would get into college. In fact, success was never in my mind when thinking about my grades and even my future.
Throughout the year as I worked through the bully situation, I started to realize that bullies aren’t going to go away. Although my high school's guidance helped me get through it and the bullies apologized, I would like to think I accomplished this obstacle in my life mainly by myself. It took me most of high school to realized just how smart I am ,and how much drive I have inside me. Although the bullying stopped after my sophomore year, I still heard the comments throughout my head.
Here's the thing with the bullying situation in this country: we tell bullies not to bully, but we don’t tell teenagers how to love themselves. We don’t teach them how to brush something off their shoulders and realize how amazing they are. We are so focused on punishing the bully then helping a teen's self-esteem. The truth is, there are bullies throughout life; they don’t stop once you receive your high school diploma.
Four years later, I am in a 4-year college, working hard and receiving good grades, and I also have plans to graduate a semester early and study abroad. If someone told me four years ago that this would be my life, I would’ve laughed and I not have believed them.
So here’s my advice for anyone being bullied--you are worth it, you are beautiful and you are smart. You need to learn how to accept who you are and find your confidence so if a bully ever approaches you, the words won’t stick inside your head, you’ll learn to shake it off.