For me, it was middle school. For others, it’s high school or college. What exactly is the cutoff for bullying? At what age is it no longer bullying, but assault, hate crimes, and what appears to be random acts of violence? Middle school was one of the darkest times of my life. It was the time in my life where I was always surrounded by people (usually people I wanted nothing to do with), but I felt completely and utterly alone. I had family who cared about me and counselors who offered to see me, but I still felt that there was no one in my corner. My friends were no longer friends and nothing made sense. But I couldn’t figure out why things were going so horribly. I had my family drama and my home life kind of sucked, but didn’t everybody’s? I tried to put on a brave face in school, but eventually I was wearing my heart on my sleeve and it was broken. Sound familiar?
I always had “issues” (that’s what my counselor always said) when I was in middle school. I was awkward, overemotional and I lived in a world of self hatred. My experience with bullying made me feel worthless and after a while of listening to people tease you for you mental health issues, your socioeconomic status (seriously, who in middle school even knows what that is?), and the fact that you’re too dark to “act the way you do,” you start to believe it.
The worst part is when you finally do try to reach out for help, you get distracted. When I was in the seventh grade, I found my love for writing and it became therapeutic for me. I was having a rough day in class one day so I started writing to myself and I wrote about how my day had gone and who was mean to me that day. A girl in my class saw this and took it to the teacher, who in return took my journal entry to the principal. The principal then called me into his office for writing what he called a “Hit List.” I had no idea what that was; I just wanted to get off of my chest how horrible my day had been and I decided that writing it down was better than crying in the middle of class… again. I tried to tell the principal that I was being bullied and I didn’t mean anything by it (though our school had had a bomb threat not too long before this incident, so I guess I can see their concern). But without even wanting to hear what I’d been through, the principal suspended me for two weeks.
As I got older, people sort of matured. I never actually fit in anywhere in high school, but I came home in one piece and I wasn’t afraid to go to school anymore. I just wanted to get out of high school and away from my hometown. For the most part, the worst was over, but I saw people being bullied for their mental illnesses, their sexuality, their living situations, and a ton of other things that they couldn’t control. And it burned me up inside, but apparently not enough to do something about it then.
I know everyone says it and it’s all over the Internet, but it DOES GET BETTER! Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it and it may in fact get worse before it gets better, but if you’re having a tough time in school, it will not last forever. And reach out! And if the people you’re reaching out to won’t help you, then keep searching for people that will. You’re not alone and you don’t have to feel like you are. Find the people who care and if you can, rid yourself of the people who don’t. There was definitely a time when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the older I got and the more independent and confident I became, I started seeing it. If I could convince anyone, no matter what age, to take things one day at a time and to keep fighting until the next day, I’ll know that I could be for someone else what I didn’t have when I was going through my darkest years.
Change starts with us and it starts at a young age. We need to start treating other people much better than we do now. We have to teach acceptance and equality. We have to stop judging. We live in a world that’s getting progressive, I’ll admit, but we have a very long way to go. WE have to be the ones to get us there, or at least continue the journey to getting us there. Point blank. I don’t want my child to grow up in a toxic environment. I don’t want my child to be afraid to walk down the street because they’re afraid that they’ll be in harm’s way because of the color of their skin. And if that sounds like an old problem, then I’d highly suggest catching up on what’s been going on in our world. It seems like not a big deal when you witness bullying, but it affects people’s lives in ways that will surprise you. It took therapy, a few breaking points, and years of trust building to fix some of the issues caused by bullying, and I’m still not done. This has to change with us and it has to change now.
Feature image source: pixhome.blogspot.com
Shatece is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater and a minor in LGBT Studies. She currently attends Northern Illinois University and is incredibly excited to be writing for SRtrends.