Hi everyone! I am a 24 year old female, and for purposes of not using any names, I will not be giving mine. Although I have been extremely lucky in my life, I--like every one else--have gone through difficult times. Time of fear, depression, anxiety, suicide, etc. My story is about bullying. I have been bullied, and even though I am not proud to say it, it has to be said--I have also been the bully.
Let me take you back as far as elementary school. I was best friends with a girl who lived close by. We shared the same interests and hobbies so I was at her house almost every single day. I have always been smaller than average for my age and I believe that had a roll to play here. I was about 10 years old when I actually realized I was being bullied by my so-called friend. She would verbally abuse me as well as physically. Although it was nothing more than hitting or pinching, it still should not have gone on for as long as I allowed it. So by 5th grade I thought for sure I smartened up. I slowly worked my way out of her life and became best friends with another girl. This girl was pretty, rich, and nice to me. What wasn't to like about her? We became SO inseparable, a lot of the time people would confuse us as being sisters.
I always tell myself, I wish I knew then what I know now..but really I don't. Without this part of my life I would not be who I am today. As our relationship grew, I found myself acting out more and more. I was talking back to teachers and parents, going against my own parents wishes in raising me, dressing a bit inappropriate for my age..you know, all those rebellious things that make us FEEL cool. I failed to realize I became someone I would eventually despise.
This "best friend" was no friend at all. Through-out our 5 year friendship she did some horrible things to me. And I have done some horrible things to others because of her influence. During the summer we hung around her pool 24/7; she would have boys over, neighbors over, and other friends over too. She would do things such as dropping my bathing suit bottoms in front of others, taking my bathing suit tops and throwing them over her fence in front of others..then would sit there and laugh as she and them watched me shamefully go retrieve them. There was another time when I had asked to use a hair brush after swimming (I have always had extremely long, thick, & tough hair) again, we were with a bunch of friends including boys. When I started to brush my hair, it broke. The rubber pulled away from the wood and I broke her hair brush. I knew what was coming. She once again had the time of her life laughing at me, saying how "disgusting and gross" my hair was if it could break a brush. I was always being embarrassed by my supposed best friend. I wish I could say I let it end there. It only got worse as we got older. She would say things like, "you look better than me you need to go change" and I would. There were a handful of times where she would blackmail me to do things such as flash boys my chest or she would tell them one of my deepest secrets, and again, I would. I was her little pet, following her orders and she loved every sick minute of it. She got pleasure out of my humiliation.
Unfortunately, the only way I knew how to channel my anger at her was to bring it upon others. Mean Girls the movie came out while I was friends with her and we made a "Burn Book". A terrible book in which you put a persons picture in it, and write things making fun of them. After growing out of THOSE type of things, going into high school meant BOYS. I was dating a boy for quite a while and lost my virginity at such a young age. It was merely days after when this same "best friend" decided to tell me that she was now seeing my boyfriend. That they cheated together. I wish I could say I'm sorry it happened, but I'm not. This was the last time I let her break me.
There were many more instances through-out our friendship where this girl tried to ruin my life, sometimes succeeding..but I would be typing 10 pages worth. It took until my sophomore year in high school to find new friends and rid myself from her toxic, manipulative grasp. I finally found a group of people who I belonged with. People who cheered me on, wanted to see me succeed, and people who actually cared about my well-being.
My aim for sharing my story is to tell you, never sell yourself short from what you deserve. Never let anyone try to bring you down and if they do, stand the f*ck back up and show them what you're made of. Do not feel lost from yourself if you have taken the wrong path and feel you can not turn around. You can always turn around and you can always find a helping hand along the way. Growing is such an amazing process. We fail, we succeed, we fail some more, and succeed once again. Life is not about dwelling on your wrongs, but making sure along the way to right them for your future. Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself. Do not be afraid to let someone know you are being bullied--or know someone who is. There are many others that have struggled exactly where you are struggling and they want to help. WE want to help.
I was touched by this story, not only because it was the first story submitted to me, but because it is just one example of such a large number of people who are affected by bullying every single day. Bullying is a topic we need to talk about. Period. We need to teach young people that this is never the answer, and by creating hate, we are just creating unsafe environments, and hurtful adults. We should be able to feel safe as the people that we are and not have to worry about others making us feel bad about it. WE are all different, WE are all unique, and NO ONE is better than the person next to them. We need to teach others how to stand up for themselves, and take back control of the personal freedom bullies have been able to take away from us. Did you know that 1 in 4 kids are bullied? or that 77% of students are bullied mentally, physically, and verbally? These weren't the only alarming statistics that I found. I also found out that, 1 in 5 students admit to being the bully. This is a huge problem, and when not addressed, can lead to fatal results. Teenagers who have been bullied have stated that revenge is the strongest motivation for things such as school shootings. 87% of teens surveyed have said that shootings are motivated by a desire to "get back at those who have hurt them." We must treat the issue of bullying as a serious one. Hurt people, hurt people. We need to put a stop to hurting others. Nobody ever benefits from that.
I hope this story touched you in some way. I hope it has inspired you to live a little kinder, and to treat others a little nicer. A little kindness can go a long way, and once we all learn that we are in control of making our part in the world a better place, other people will be inspired to do the same. Do what you can with what you are given. Spread happiness, not cruelty; the world doesn't need any more of that.