Today, while browsing through my Facebook newsfeed, I came across a really sad story of a teenager who committed suicide after being bullied. It’s not a story I haven’t seen before and maybe that’s why it’s so sad – because it’s happening way too often.
There in the middle of my page, was a picture of a beautiful young girl with almond shaped eyes. I didn’t know her and sadly I never will.
Bullying really ticks me off. I know that most of us have been in that little girls shoes at some point in our lives. Bullying doesn’t discriminate. It happens when we’re younger, it happens in the workplace – unfortunately it happens everywhere. In fact, you may have participated in some form of bullying without ever knowing you were feeding in to the vicious act.
I remember when I was in 5th grade, my parents moved us down the road to a new house. The most traumatizing part of the move was having to leave my elementary school I had been at since 2nd grade and start 5th grade half way through the year. Not only was I the “new girl”, but I also had to make all new friends. The kids at the new elementary school all dressed and acted dramatically different. They all had boyfriends and wore trendy “Adidas’s” clothing. I was used to being very preppy and innocent (I still believed in cooties). I used the movie “Clueless” as my dressing inspiration (yep – perfectly curled hair, knee highs, skirts, cardigans, block heels… you get the idea). My first 2 weeks I stuck out like a sore thumb with all sorts of unsolicited comments flying in my direction – most were anything but nice. I would go home sobbing every single day, begging and pleading my mom to let me somehow go back to my friends and former teachers. While my parents slowly instilled confidence in me – I also remember slowly succumbing to that peer pressure, ditching my heels for sneakers, and my long flowing locks for slicked back pony tails.
While I have never experienced an extreme form of bullying (relentless name calling, cyber bullying, harassment calls, physical force, etc), I have had some fair share of other bizarre behavior that I’ve had to deal with before including sexual harassment. I want you to know that if you have ever been bullied – it is not your fault… it has NOTHING to do with you. You are perfect JUST the way you are. You are beautiful, you are smart, you are funny, you WILL get through this. It may be hard to recognize these things, but you are stronger than you think… and while this time might be difficult right now it will not last. No one is better than you and no one has the right to make you feel that way.
If I could have looked forward 10 years when I was in high school – I wouldn’t have put half the time into worrying about what other people thought of me, what I was wearing, or what I was going to do on the weekend. I would have told myself to go against the grain, always keep my head up, and make my own decisions. So, no matter where you are in your life – I want to leave you with that same advice. Be a trailblazer, stand up for yourself, and NEVER let someone take away your self worth.