What I needed to know as a bullied girl.
There’s no possible way to express the deep sadness I experience when I find out another young person has taken their own life because of being bullying in school. I feel their pain and understand why they thought this was a necessary way of dealing with it. At a young age, it’s hard to see past it, past school years, past those friends and enemies. It feels like it will always be that way, the world won’t be able to see past the scars and the projections of the tormenters.
I remember listening to what the girls would say about me. They said I was ugly, I’d never get a boyfriend, and that no one liked me. It was hard to ignore their calling out to me in the hallway, in front of, what felt like, everyone in the world. It seemed like everyone believed them and that was who I was and everyone knew it.
I was ugly and worthless.
One of my last days of grade ten I had to run away from a group of older girls into an in-session classroom and explain to the teacher that I was being threatened and was too scared to leave the room by myself.
So I dropped out. I felt so worthless at this point in my life; I couldn’t see any value in education. I never had good grades, I wouldn’t amount to anything.
Here are the three things I wish I knew when I was being bullied.
It’s going to get better.
It’s not suddenly going to be perfect one day although it will get better and better. It feels like it will last forever but it won’t. Give the bullies nothing in return and focus your energy on the people and things that bring you happiness.
Every year of my life has been better than the previous. I’m 30 now, loving life and I want every young person to be able experience what I am now experiencing. Sometimes when I’m going through a bad time, I tell myself to hold my breath, to hold on because soon what’s happening will be only a memory and ultimately not matter in the grand scheme of things. I learned this lesson from finally realizing that what those girls said about me wasn’t true and that it didn’t affect my life and was, in some ways, a strong character building experience for me.
Life is full moments, some better than others. The good ones are worth sticking it out for.
The bullies are also being bullied.
Seek first to understand. Maybe this is too spiritual for some young people to grasp, but perhaps that is exactly what they need—a deeper understanding of others and of themselves. Imagine having sharing circles from a young age all the way through school, encouraging kids to talk it out, get to know each other and relate to each other.
I was brought into the Principals office and forced to confront my bullies. With two of them and only one of me, in a tiny room with a counsellor that clearly had no idea how inner school politics worked. This was an intimidating and traumatizing experience for me. It was not safe environment.
The bullies and the bullied are both victims seeking a safer environment for their feelings. Equally, they need more emotional exercise, and a solid outlet for their personal catastrophes. Teaching compassion and communication can help solve immediate issues and prevent issues later in their lives as well.
It’s ok to feel everything.
In this day and age, we are always telling each other to be more grateful and absolutely—I am huge on the gratitude trend. But we also need to be allowed to feel it all, feel everything that sucks. We need to let those emotions out and know that it’s ok to feel crappy sometimes. The sun can’t shine every day, literally and figuratively for our health and the planets health, it needs to rain regularly.
All I really wanted and needed was some selfless understanding for the scale of which my life felt ruined and over. Not everyone has the skills, compassion or understanding to provide this. Even as adults, a lot of us are craving a friend to listen without verbalizing judgement.
If we are going to listen, listen fully. Listen without judgement, without interrupting, correcting, or waiting for our turn to speak. A lot of the time all it needs is good listen and the severity lessens. Whether we’re listening to a child, teenager, or adult, this applies.
Being a teenager was hard and being bullied was awful. I felt alone at times, and supported at other times. The struggle was worth it and I’m proud of myself for getting through it. When I see the loud, obnoxious teens on transit and around town, I have a respect for them and what they are going through. I’m happy to see them laughing with their friends and enjoying life before rent is due.
I understand now that all the tough moments were the lessons preparing me for life, and I feel well prepared.
And I hope that for the teenage girl reading this, she finds some hope in her darkest hour.
Author: Alicia Meek
Editor: Sarah Kolkka
Image: YouTube Still