Recently a group of authors from Facebook decided to stand up against bullying and they chose today, October 19th, to write a post about their experiences, feelings, and opinions about this after a teen took her own life because of being bullied. Although I was too late to participate with them, I do feel it’s an important topic. I’ve decided to blog about this because I don’t want anyone to ever think that they have no power to stand up against bullies. Whether we’re family, friends, or even strangers…we will stand with you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
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I was a runt in the group, loved tagging along with my older siblings, but they didn’t like me following them around. Since I was left with only my baby sis who was no fun at her age, I quickly discovered I had a love of eating so it wasn’t difficult for me to pack on quite a lot of baby fat. That’s the beginning of the many torturous years of name calling in which nicknames stuck until well through elementary school and early middle school years. I was called everything from “fatty”, “chubby wubby”, “roasted pork”…to any of the endless names they call kids who were a little round. But I endured and I didn’t let the power of those words break me.
However, I considered myself lucky.
I’m one of the few who took something harmful and turned it into my strengths. My parents are strong minded individuals and they taught me at an early age that I had to be tough in order to survive any situation. Heck, we’d fled a war-torn country at a shot at a better life so name calling was nothing close to what I’d already seen and experienced as a child.
I was never actually bullied to the extent where I was pushed around or constantly ridiculed—Except for the moments when kids hated me just because of my race—but I did see instances of bullying often at my school. Since I never tried to be part of any clique, I’d see kids get picked on for not having money, not being considered pretty, not having the right outfits, or not being smart enough…and it always pissed me off. Instead of worrying about what the “cool” kids thought of me, I would be quick to make friends with these outcasts. I would defend them knowing I probably would’ve gotten the crap beat out of me, but I didn’t care. People laughed at my size but they never laughed at my ability to intimidate even the biggest of bullies.
There was one particular instant in elementary school that really sticks to me. It was a time when my little sister had been bullied by a kid who thought she was too nerdy and awkward. When I discovered that she had been constantly harassed by this boy, it made something inside of me snap. Instead of cowering, I stood up to him. I called him out on the playground in front of everyone and told him I would meet him by the tire obstacle course after school. Word spread and by the time school was out, there was a pretty sizable group of kids waiting. Some were there to see a fight, some where there because they were ready to fight alongside with me. Some where there because they wanted to see the bully get his comeuppance. I was prepared, I was ready to face anyone who would pick on someone just because they thought they could. Well…I waited for hours and the kid never showed up. I don’t know if it was out of embarrassment or fear that someone finally stood up to him was the reason he bailed on the fight. Whatever the truth was, I’ll never know. But after that challenge, I didn’t see many instances of bullying in my school because the kids learned to stick together and stand up to these kids who had made their lives hell…
So my experience had a successful ending but there are many teens today who face bullying to the extent that they take their own lives. It’s become more and more widespread especially now that there’s a new platform for bullying. Social media is making it easy to target you anonymously. The gang mentality is easier to incite during heated debates. It’s so easy to leave caustic remarks and threats without being punished. The cyber world is a scary place and more so for those who feel they don’t have the voice or the ability to stand strong. I know words may simply not be enough for someone who has been the subject of years of bullying but what I want to tell you is that you don’t have to try to hide your pain or fight it alone. There are people who care and love you and they will help you find your strength. They will help you find your voice! We all make mistakes but we have to value ourselves, we have to know when it’s time to ask others to step in and stand alongside with you.
YOU ARE BRAVE.
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
YOU ARE SPECIAL.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
DON’T EVER BE AFRAID.
*Each authors’ opinions on bullying are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of all participating.