For 8 years, I was bullied. To be honest, I don't think about it much anymore. It's hard now to think back and remember that I once allowed other people to make me feel that, maybe, life wasn't worth living or that there was something wrong with me that made me unworthy of love and friendship.
Since then, I went to university, I found a job that I love, I’ve made lifelong friendships, and I've even found a partner to share my life with. Other things have happened since I left school too: I got a Facebook account, a twitter account, and a smartphone. In the past 4 years, I have seen how technology has also made bullying easier as well as how it has revealed to the world the realities of school and bullying for young people. However, technology hasn't changed what is hurtful about bullying: social isolation, brutal criticisms, public humiliation, and out-of-control rumors.
Of course, when I was being bullied, I never believed that my parents could understand or help me, but they could and they did. I want to list for you here some of the things that people told me, which proved to be true and helped me get through the hardest years of my life:
- People get nicer. I lived this for myself when, after graduating high school, a boy who had bullied me for years ran into me and apologized for how he had treated me. Most people eventually develop a conscience, and they will come to regret how they treated others in the past and try to avoid being mean in the future.
- Find something that makes you feel good about yourself. You can't control who's mean to you, but you can stop letting them define how you feel about yourself. Keep busy; try new things or work on some goals, like running a marathon or raising money for charity. You will feel better about yourself when you are filling your time productively.
- School is really nothing like real life... at all. When you look back on it, school will be such a small and weird part of your life story, and the people who were mean to you in school will represent a tiny fraction of all the people you will meet. Being “cool” or “nerdy” or “fat” or “awkward” in school will have NO bearing on the rest of your life. I can honestly tell you that I have completely forgotten the last names of most of the people who used to bully me, because in the grand scheme of things, they never mattered to me at all except for the short amount of time when I gave them the power to influence how I felt about myself.
- You will become more like yourself. One of the things that I found hard in school is that I knew what was "cool", but I was never any good at it. I tried SO HARD to do exactly what was expected of me, but I always came off as SO AWKWARD. Then I realized: I was trying to be someone else, not myself... so then the question became: who am I? I had to work to figure that answer out, and I still have to work every day to not fall into the trap of doing what's "cool" so that someone will like me instead of thinking about whether or not it is actually something that I want to do. Also, by the way, you WILL find people who love you for who you are and those people will make you happier than you ever thought possible, they will make your life so much easier, and you will feel great knowing that you make those people happy in return.
It's amazing to think how much being young has changed in such a short period of time, after so little had changed for so long. Hopefully though, some of that same advice that I got can be helpful to you. The problem is that I don't know whether or not that advice is still useful, so now I have to ask for your help. I need you to tell me: what has changed? do you have any advice to offer other victims of bullying? what kinds of different advice or help would be useful to you?
The world has gotten more complicated since I was your age, and people my age need your help to better understand it. But I am confident that if young and older people work together, we can find solutions to the problem of bullying."
|Jasmine, being herself and having a blast!|