I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time now but I guess it’s a hard subject to approach and its pretty distressing for me to talk about too as it brings back horrible memories from my past. I also don’t want anyone to be mistaken and think I’m writing this post to gain sympathy as that is the last thing I want - I’ve come out of the experience I’m going to discuss as a stronger person and although it was terrifying at the time, I look back on it now with a new perspective and that perspective is what I’d like to share with you guys. I know a lot of people who read my blog are teenagers who are still at school or college and I know how hard those times can be. You’re transitioning from girl to woman or boy to man (I don’t know if any guys read my blog but you’re more than welcome of course!) and your emotions and hormones are running high. Perhaps you don’t know what you want to do with your life, perhaps the person you’re head over heels with has ditched you for someone else or perhaps your friends aren’t being as supportive as you'd like them to be. Or perhaps you’re being bullied.
Before the age of thirteen and pre high-school, I was always a happy, confident and care-free girl. I loved school and was always smiling. I didn't really care what anybody thought about me and I always took it upon myself to treat other people how I'd like to be treated. Of course I still live by that motto now and that aspect of me definitely hasn't and never will change. However, the confident and care-free side to my personality was soon gone when high-school bullies made me feel worthless, vulnerable and scared. I'm not going to go into it too much detail about the people I'm referring too but lets just say there were various girls at my high school who just didn't like me from the get-go. They hadn't spoke to me and they didn't know anything about me - they just decided to make assumptions about me (apparently I'm a barbie doll, fake, plastic and a sl*t just because I have blonde hair and blue eyes) and shower me with hatred. These girls made my school life a living hell - I couldn't walk out of a lesson without being shouted at in the corridors, I couldn't enjoy break times with the few close friends I had because these groups of very intimidating girls would approach me. Occasionally I couldn't even walk home from school without being followed. Instead of being the care-free young girl I'd always been, I was soon shy, withdrawn and quite frankly, petrified of being at school.
There's a few memories from school that still stand out vividly in my head, times that I still find quite traumatic and I'll share a few with you now so you get an idea of the type of bullying I'm referring to in this post. I once got followed home by a girl who took it upon herself to shout and scream various derogative names at me all the way home. She was right there behind me the whole way, getting closer and closer as if she was about to pounce. I was terrified. Her abuse was so loud and so intimidating that my mum actually heard this girl shouting from her bedroom window and came outside to see what all the commotion was about. I ran into the house crying (like I did most evenings) and was left feeling scared to go to school the following day. On another ocassion I got followed home by a girl shouting 'you're next Kayleigh' - the same girl that had severely beat up my best friend only days before. For no reason at all. Another few stand out moments would be the time a girl specifically came to find me during a break from lessons to throw a drink all over me, the time a girl threatened to burn all my hair off with a bunsen burner and the time a girl pushed me down the stairs because she said I was lying about my mum having cancer. For the record, I wasn't lying. I was a 14 year old girl upset at school because I'd just found out my mum wasn't very well. Luckily it wasn't a serious form and she's perfectly fine now but still, what a disgusting thing for that person to do just because they didn't like me. This bullying didn't finish when the school bell rang either, it would continue on social networking sites. People like to be keyboard warriors when they get on the internet and it can be a vile place sometimes. They think its acceptable to hide behind a computer and spout abuse and quite frankly, its not. The amount of stories you read in the news about young teenagers killing themselves because of things like this makes me feel sick. Think before you speak people or it could have horrible consequences. It also continued when I went to college, this time with a new group of girls who again, immediately hated me for no reason, no matter how friendly I was towards them. A moment I'll never forget is when I left college and one of these girls decided she would speed up her car as she saw me crossing the road (I used to walk home for lunch as I couldn't bare to face these people in the canteen) and slam on the breaks an inch in front of me. She did it with the intention of scaring me as I thought she was about to run me over. I was absolutely petrified and all she did was laugh. Disgusting.
As you can imagine, after dealing with incidents like the ones mentioned above day in day out throughout my school and college years, my confidence and self-esteem took a serious beating. That's what these people don't realise when they're taking it upon themselves to bully someone - you're affecting that person not only physically but mentally too. As I'm sure you all know, I suffer with bad anxiety and panic attacks and part of the reason behind this is because of the bullying I endured when I was younger. I struggle to trust anyone, especially other girls and I feel uncomfortable in situations where I'm surrounded by large groups of girls (outside of my family and friends) because it brings back too many memories of how I felt as a vulnerable teenager. Although I can stand up for myself these days, the fear is always there.
So now I've told you all my story (well, a small snippet of it), let me move onto something a bit more positive. I guess the reason I'm writing this post is because I want people to realise that no matter how hard it gets, no matter how low you feel, it will get better. It always gets better. You cannot let the bullies win. You also need to realise (something I didn't when I was younger) is that these people have their own problems and perhaps their way of dealing with their own lack of self-worth is by belittling other people. Maybe that makes them feel better? That doesn't make it acceptable in any way shape or form but you need to remind yourself that its not you that is the problem, its them. I think that would be the biggest thing I've learnt from my experience. If you can pride yourself on the fact that you're a good person who is kind and caring to those around you, you've already won. No matter what these people say about you, that's just their own negative perception of people and the world translated onto you. If they don't actually know you and have never held a conversation with you, their opinion of you is just that, an opinion. Is their opinion a fact? Does that opinion matter? Absolutely not. The only opinions that matter are from those people close to you - the people who know the real you, not judgemental bullies who make assumptions. That's something I wish I could go back and tell my 14 year old self. Instead of dwelling on the comments these people made, I wish I'd held my head up high, laughed, ignored them and carried on with my life as normal. After all, these people don't deserve any tears or heartache. They're not even worth a flicker of worry. Trust me.
The reason I know these people aren't worth a second thought is because I've been there, I've been through it and I still came out on the other side. I still managed to get good grades at school and college. I still managed to go on to university and get a good degree. I still managed to get a full-time job. I still managed to live in a nice city and a nice apartment. I still managed to find an amazing boyfriend and I still have the best family and friends a girl could ask for. When you put things into perspective like that, where does that leave the bullies? It leaves them stuck in the same place they were all those years ago because that's what happens to people who surround themselves with hatred and negativity. They stay trapped in that vicious cycle instead of making the best of themseleves. I truly believe in the saying 'you get out what you put in' and if you're a negative, spiteful person, your life will reflect that. However, if you're a positive and more importantly NICE person, you can achieve any goals you set yourself. Another hugely important thing to remember is that you're never alone and there's always someone that's willing to help. Whether its your parents, your teachers or even a helpline, there's always somewhere to turn. Its so important to remember that.
I've actually seen some of the people who bullied me since leaving school/college and all I see now when I look at them is pity. Pity that they felt the need to behave like that and pity that they wasted their school years inflicting pain on other people. However, I've also forgiven them for the things they did because there's no point in hanging on to that period in my life and resenting these people. The best way to deal with it is to continue living a happy life and always strive to be the best person I can be. The counsellor I see for my anxiety once asked me what I'd say to these people now if I had the chance and I seriously wouldn't say a thing. Actions speak louder than words as far as I'm concerned. However, if I did have to say something, I'd quote my favourite Taylor Swift song and say - "one day I'll be living in a big old city and all your ever gonna be is mean, why you gotta be so mean?". Enough said.
I really hope sharing my story has helped at least one of you out there. I hate the thought of anyone getting bullied but if you are one of those people currently suffering, please remember you are NOT alone and you WILL get through this.
Stay strong and look to the future. The only way is up, take my word for it!
Lots of Love,