Bullying. It's been everywhere in the news recently. It doesn't shock me that it's still happening at this day and age, but what does shock me is the number of people affected by it. Furthermore, the number of people that commit suicide because of bullying. The most recent statistics say that in the last year alone, 1 in 12 teens attempted suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and adolescents. As a young person that has dealt with bullying first hand, and knows many people that have suffered through it as well, I just wanted to share my experiences with you.
I've actually been on both ends of the bullying spectrum. When I was in elementary school, there was this one girl that was really different from everyone else. All of the students in our grade made fun of her, and really alienated her from everyone else. We were all 8 and 9 years old, so a lot of the bullying was just follow the leader stuff. If one person was making fun of this girl, everyone else joined in. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that at this age, anything different is seen as a bad. Individuality need not apply in grade school. Everyone was trying to fit in. So when I saw the other people around me teasing this girl, I joined in.
At this time, I was having a lot of trouble opening up and being social. I used to have social anxiety, and when I was in elementary school, my mom stuck me in like a little focus group ran by my guidance counselor. This group was for girls that were shy, and needed help opening up with all of the other students. It was a group designed to make us feel comfortable around eachother, and help us make friends. The girl that everyone made fun of was also in this group. Even though everyone in the little group obviously had a lot in common, we somehow still managed to alienate this girl. When we'd do little projects in there, we'd all snicker at her work, and make really hurtful comments about her.
In hindsight, where everything is clear, none of us knew this girl's backstory. She could have been abused, or treated badly at home. She could of had a learning disability that made her seem a little off to our 8 year old minds. Who knows? The point is, what made any one of us think that we had the right to make fun of this girl? At this time in our lives, none of us know who we are. We're all just figuring stuff out as we go. I just wish that I would have stopped, and thought about my actions instead of following the crowd, and making fun of a girl that I knew nothing about. To this day, I wonder what ever happened to that girl. Because after elementary school, I never saw her again.
I guess the universe decided to give me a dose of my own medicine once I reached middle school and high school. I don't know what it is about girls, but instead of banding together, girl power style, we are really mean to eachother. Even the girls that we claim are our friends, will still get talked about behind their backs. I was constantly made fun of, and teased from 6th grade up until 12th grade. It was miserable. The sad part is, I know that the extent of the bullying I went through is nothing compared to what so many people try to endure on a daily basis.
My own sister opened up to me about the bullying she went through in middle school, and still goes through now that she's a sophmore in high school. When she began describing the horrible things that people said to and about her, I instantly became furious. Not only is she my baby sister, the person that I would fight and die for in an instant, she's also the prettiest and sweetest person anyone will ever be lucky enough to meet. I believe a lot of the name calling and backstabbing comes from a place of jealousy towards her. She's beautiful inside and out. This girl has the kindest heart ever. Such a kind person does not deserve the negative remarks and snide comments she receives pretty much on a daily basis.
No one deserves to be made fun of, or called names. We're all beautiful in our own ways. An ugly face can't hide a beautiful heart. Futhermore, all of the makeup in the world can't conceal an ugly heart or spirit. So if you're going through hell, and people are calling you names, ignore it. Be the better person. Karma is real, what goes around comes around. I got a dose of my own medicine, and the people that are making fun of you will get what they deserve too.
The world is such a hard place to survive in these days. We really don't need the added pressure of bullying to be constantly looming over our heads. Putting someone down doesn't make you above them. That temporary high you feel when you're making someone feel like they're worthless is really only temporary. As long as they can be strong enough to look past your words and actions, they will always rise above you. We all really need to look within and find our own truths. You know if you're being a good person or not. If you find yourself looking in the mirror, and realizing that you have a foul heart, I suggest you start working really hard to correct it. We only get one shot at this thing called life, so why not strive to make it an enjoyable place for not only yourself, but everyone around you.
So my challenge for you is to: Stay strong is you're dealing with bullying. You can overcome it. Your life is valuable and you are anything but worthless. If you are being a bully, you need to have a serious conversation with yourself, and find what it is that's making you feel the need to put someone else down. You might not want to confront the truth, but you need to.
Lindsey. Twenty-Five. Currently pursuing a degree in Professional Writing & Film Studies.