I dedicate this post to the wonderful Chaya who faced her bully with decorum and grace, and to my friend Tanya who has shown me what raw power is in her own fight with a bully. There’s a couple of others who’ll know who they are as well (I hope).
I was recently talking to someone from high school – ironically our social groups were different, but we moved in similar interests and circles. We were not friends. But we faced similar demons and had similar experiences with bullying. It was really interesting to compare notes and stories, and also eye opening that someone else experienced what I did.
I’m not going to lie here. I was bullied. There are things that happened to me that I hope never happen to my kids. I’m fortunate that time and grace have favoured me and that I’ve learned from my experiences and used the negative to form a positive outlook on life. It breaks my heart when I hear now of bullying in any shape and form, especially with children.
What I learned from years of bullying? That I don’t have to accept it in whatever form it takes – be it physical, emotional or pyschological. A bully is only reflecting their own insecurities and inability to accept themselves.
Bullying happens in many ways and forms. From the schoolyard ‘isolation’ (which sadly, also moves into adulthood) where we won’t play with that person, to physical abuse of someone because of the way they dress, the way they speak or their social status. You’d think as adults, the bullying stops, but it doesn’t. It continues through life as people try to scramble to the top of the heap without complete disregard for others. It’s not just a schoolyard issue. It starts in childhood and can travel through someone’s life. It is even a reason for someone to take their own life, when things get to a point where they lose all sense of their identity due to someone else’s actions. Why would anyone want to be responsible for someone else’s death? Why is that even an outcome?
What is bullying? It can be pressuring someone into doing something against their wishes, or spreading rumours about that person, or even speaking negatively behind their backs. It can be pulling someone’s headscarf off because we don’t agree they should be wearing it. In its many forms, there is one thing about bullying that we should all agree on.
Bullying in any form, at any age, for any reason, is completely unacceptable.
As a human being, you do not have the right to stand in someone’s face and scream at them because you don’t agree with what they have said. You do not have the right to exclude someone because you don’t agree with their beliefs. You do not have the right to remove an article of clothing that is not on your person. You do not have the right to spit in the face of someone because they express their faith in a way that is different to yours. You do not have the right to spread an untruth about a person to defile their character. You don’t have those rights. No-one has those rights.
Bullying is about power. It’s about controlling someone to your definitions of normal and what is socially acceptable. It’s about making someone feel less important and undermining their self esteem. And you do not have the right to do that.
To my bullies, past and present – you no longer have the power to do this. Why? Because I won’t let you. What I have achieved in my life, what I plan to achieve and what I will achieve are my accomplishments and define me as my own person. You don’t have the right to make me feel like a lesser person because of who I am, who I was, or who I will become. I’ve taken my power back and I’m investing it in myself.
To those who are bullied, or have been bullied – I hope that one day you’ll feel empowered enough to take back your own power and use it on one of the most worthwhile people you know – yourself. You are worth it. If you want to talk anytime, send me a message. Share your story on this post. Share this post so that the message reaches people. You are an amazing person. You do not have to accept bullying.
And finally to those who bully others. Think about the reasons you do this. What makes you insecure, or fuels your need to make someone feel less worthwhile through your actions? Why do you have this belief that your way is the only acceptable way? Look at yourself and hopefully find a way to educate yourself on what motivates you. Accept yourself and be open to change. Become a better person and learn to accept others, and more importantly, yourself.