Confession Time! I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this topic to anyone other than my mom, but I was bullied A TON growing up. To a point where I went on anxiety and sleeping medication when I was 13, and by the time I was in high school things were so bad that I was drinking every weekend, switching schools, and going to sleep almost every single night feeling like I was completely alone. To a point where I had to see a therapist- multiple times a week. To a point where my depression meds stopped cutting it. I remember coming home after school the day of my 17th birthday and just bawling my eyes to my mom because I didn’t know how to make it go away. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. Why the people I, at one time, considered my friends, were so cruel. Naturally, my mom knew exactly what to do, so with the promise of ice cream cake at the end, she convinced me to go on an 15 mile bike ride with her, and it was the first time that I really learned how to stop caring. As I got older, closer to 18, I started gaining the ability to deal with the bullying I was surrounded with on my own, and I did it by throwing myself into something I truly cared about- which at the time, was building my first business (Sorry I Party). I figured the bullying would change after high school, or maybe after I actually accomplished something to prove everyone else wrong- but it didn’t. However, I did. I found a way to handle it.
Bullying is easier to talk about now than it was five years ago. We have series like “13 reasons why” to get the conversation started, and there’s a lot more education programs at schools focused around the issue.
However, for me, admitting that I was a victim of bullying is still really hard. It sounds weak- Like a cry for attention. It’s beyond uncomfortable. But I know that I want to help people in the future who are experiencing these things, so I’m hoping they can learn from some of the lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way. So this is me- putting myself out there- and if anyone, ANYONE, ever needs someone to talk to or someone to listen, send me a message. I’m all ears.
As for my advice, here is goes,
Things I’ve learned from getting bullied:
1. The other person/people is coming from a place of pain. It’s a well-known fact that people who are bullies were once bullied themselves- so learning how to practice a sense of empathy for the people who treated me so poorly helped me gain some perspective.
2. It’s not personal. Even when it seems like it is. Even when everything is directed at you. Bullying is never about the person being bullied and what’s wrong with them, it’s about the bullies own ego and desire for power/control. The meaner the comments, the lower the esteem of the bully.
3. Fighting back isn’t worth it. This is really contradictory to a lot of advice given about bullying, but from my experience, it’s the truth. Responding to the comments or getting defensive is only going to fuel the bully to push even further. The best reaction is to not give them any attention at all- not in person, not on social media, not at all. Eventually they’ll get bored and move on.
4. The best way to get over being bullied is to surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and focus you attention on something you care about. If someone is having a negative impact on you, just cut them out. Black and white. You don’t need them. And then do your thing. If you love to write, write. If you want to dance, dance. If you want to crotchet sweaters for kittens and sell them on eBay, then do that. But there’s nothing that discourages a bully than realizing that they are not having an impact.
5. LOVE YOURSELF! A lot of people think that bullying stops past middle school/high school. It doesn’t. There will be bullies in college. In frats/sororities/in your classes. There will be bullies in the workplace, and in the friends groups you make- even as an adult. Surprisingly enough, some people really don’t grow up. So instead of hating the bullies, just feel sorry for them. It would suck to be stuck in an adult body with a child’s mind.