Bullying: It does get better!
It is time to get personal.
I have seen an astronomical amount of news stories about young children who are taking their own lives. Children! And I tear up every single time I read one of these articles.
I cannot even begin to understand what bullying in this day and age is like with the ease and the shield of social media making it so easy for people to target others. And it only seems like young kids are getting worse and worse and meaner and meaner. But I cannot help but think about my own experience with bullies and I just wish that I could talk to these kids and say things get better! This is not forever.
I know that I will not change the world with this post but if even one kid going through a tough time reads this, then it will be worth it.
Before computers. Back when kids had to think before they acted. When they would make a conscious decision to say something and then hold onto that thought long enough to actually seek you out and say it to you. I was bullied… and as I type that out, my eyes fill with tears.
Like every case of bullying, it was not a few instances, it was many piled up together. I would go home at the end of the day crying and would bang my head on my bedroom floor. I would go to the bathroom for 20 minutes at a time to avoid going to class or to avoid recess/lunch hour. I did not understand why I was targeted by the “cool kids” and the only thing that I wanted in the whole world was to fit in, which only made it worse because I would try so hard to be their “friend.” Now as an adult I can look back on it and say that these kids were by no means “cool,” and did not deserve an ounce of my time.
I remember this one time my teacher decided to try out desk pods. Where desks would be put into pods of 4 or 6 as working groups. There was one pod of 5 and I had asked to be put as the 6th desk. You see, one of the girls in the group of “cool kids” was actually one of my friends. I wanted to sit with her. My desk was moved into the pod. Later that day I came in from lunch hour and my desk was there, alone in the corner. The other 5 moved their desks to the other side of the room. This act alone is devastating and embarrassing for a young kid, and if it was just this I could have just moved my desk and gotten over it. But inside my desk was a note telling me to “go kill myself.”
If I had taken that note literally, I would not be here today, planning my wedding and running a successful business.
There were so many more events, much like the one above that I explained. I had food thrown at me. I had girls tell me that I was trash and dressed like my clothes were from a dumpster. I had boys call me ugly and tell me to wear a bag over my head. I can imagine that reading these things online would be hard too, but to my face was heartbreaking.
I am not sure the exact moment that I started to see a Councillor but I am sure it was prompted by my loving and supportive parents. I got stronger. I started to realize that I was worth so much more than what my peers said about me. That I needed to stick up for myself.
One time I was sitting at my desk in grade 7 and I could hear the boys behind me talking about me and giggling between themselves. I was so angry and fed up with being treated so terribly. I stood up and yelled “STOP"! I have had enough with people talking about me and treating me like dirt!” And I threw my pen at this boy. Good thing my aim was terrible and I missed because this was a very heavy pen shaped like Santa Claus, that would have hurt! Realizing that I had just stood up in front of the entire class and yelled this, I ran to the bathroom and cried.
The funny thing was that one of the boys followed me to the bathroom, hugged me, and apologized profusely. He said that he did not realize how bad things were and how badly I was hurting. Things did not stop after this, but at least he did.
After that event my teacher did take notice and cleared the entire classroom and placed all of the chairs in the middle of the room in a circle. We had a three hour discussion about bullying and myself, along with others, were able to openly talk about how we felt. Unfortunately this resulted in the “cool kids” acting remorseful and sorry, but later teasing me when the teacher was gone.
To be honest, things did not start to get better until my older brother, who was friends with an older sister of the “ring leader,” talked to the girls sister, who then talked to her parents.
And things did not fully get better until the end of grade 7 when I switched schools. I got a fresh start with all new classmates and friends. I joined drama and put all of my frustrations and concerns into acting. I found a passion for theatre and the stage and found solace in the drama room. I gained new, lifelong, friends. I became confident in who I was and am.
I went on to travel across Canada. I worked for Disney. I moved to Prince George and met the love of my life. I am planning my wedding and hopefully one day soon will start my own family.
I know that my story is on the low end of the spectrum for how bad things have to be for a child to actually take their own life, but I have been feeling a pull to share my story. To say that this too shall pass. That life does get brighter and fuller. That elementary school and high school are only a short phase of your life.
Image Credit: Kreative Eye Studios