Throughout my thirteen years of school, I was the kid on the left. I was called names, thrown to the floor, punched in the head and ultimately taught of my inferiority. However, the defining moment happened during a camp. I was in the bathroom taking a shower and a few of the other kids stole my clothes. After an hour of unreciprocated screaming, I realised what had to be done. I ran out the bathroom and into the main hallway. Everyone stood in the doorways laughing as my bare bottom sprinted to safety. From that day forth, I swore an oath to introversion. I would become one of the shadows on the wall because nobody notices them and thus they are left alone.
The oath was broken in my senior years of high school. I managed to muster some confidence and stop hiding. I made new friends, went to parties, joined clubs and somehow found my voice. I think when everyone is on the brink of adulthood, bullying becomes a habit of the past. Maturity shows them that difference should be celebrated, not persecuted. Based on this, I thought that the end of school would bring about the end of bullying. I was stupid.
I have recently learnt that bullies also plague the adult-world. They may not appear in the form of children, but they are bullies nonetheless. They can manifest as your boss, your co-worker, your husband, your mother-in-law, your doctor or as anyone with the capacity for pain.
Being bullied is similar to feeling helpless. Your power is taken and dangled from above and no matter how high you jump, you can never quite reach it. You eventually cease the act of jumping and instead sit down. You begin to accept the abuse because in your mind, you truly deserve it. This is exactly what I have experienced time and time again, and even though I am now an adult, I still find it easy to fall down the same rabbit-hole. As I grow older though, I am learning the nature of my power.
My power has been challenged so many damn times; My dad’s suicide, leaving home when I was fourteen, having an eating disorder, family drama and living with depression. However, I have used each instance as an opportunity and instead of having my power taken away, I have become empowered. This is the answer to bullying.
When you are made to feel inferior, you must explore that inferiority. How have they done this to you? Why do you feel helpless? Do you have to endure it? What is the way out? After answering these questions, you will come to understand that bullying can only happen if you create a stage for it. That stage is built by vulnerability, taking the hits, rolling over when you are told to and not having enough self-compassion. So although bullying doesn’t end with school, it can end with you.