Bansi, 19, Ontario
When you stand in front of the mirror, what is the first thing you see? Your reflection or all your insecurities? Many people will say insecurities. What I see is a reflection of myself from the eyes of haters. Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the mind of almost every individual who has gone through bullying.
Apart from the many problems that our society faces, we as a society have significantly grown to understand the word bullying. The reason we have seen this change is that of the individuals who have come out of their circle of insecurity and expressed their feelings and stories about bullying. Many individuals think that everyone who goes through bullying has the exact same story. In reality that is the case, however, what differentiates every story is if that individual was able to get help and rise from his/her bullying incident. A common stereotype is that bullying occurs between individuals who are introverted and who are not able to stand up for themselves. And because of this, people think that bullying brings individuals down. I speak from experience that anyone and everyone who goes through bullying comes out being much more confident than they ever were. All it takes is a little bit of self-discovery to find that confidence.
My story begins when I had entered my new elementary school. Being the new kid, it took me a while to settle in and find “my people”. And for the next 3 years of my life, those were the friends that my life revolved around. Since the starting of our friendship, I was always the friend that was made fun of. Mind you, at that point I didn’t know that this is what bullying is. To me, it seemed normal in friends. But subconsciously, my mind had already started to tell me how “dumb my acts were”. These are the minor spectrums that no one sees in bullying. For me, the bullying started when I acknowledged it to myself and the people around me that I was being bullied. Being the only one that was being made fun of in my entire group, it had started to take a toll on the mind. But I always made sure to never upset my friends and continued to let them make fun of me. Being left out of groups because of my weight really brought me down. I still remember how I used to cry in my school washrooms. Because of this, I had become very depressed. I had become determined to lose the weight and become a so-called stick figure. Bullying really affected not only my grades and body but also my ability to talk to people. Being an extrovert and my love for talking had suddenly diminished.
When I confronted my friends that were bullying me and decided to stay away from them, they made me feel worse. They purposely would kick me out of the groups and would make plans in front of me and not invite me. Now for some people, this may not be such a big deal but being only 14 years, that kind of stress started to take a toll. By this time, the entire class had known and many individuals with whom I have now become very close to had then stood by my side to help me. They made sure to include me, but I just wanted to go back to my friends. Even though I had known by that time that I was being bullied I wanted to go back. Some people will look this and question as to why I would want to do that but for me, my life revolved around those people. I was friends with them for a really long time and regardless of what they did to me, they were my comfort.
Back when I was friends with them, they never left my side and always had my back if anyone in school harassed/annoyed me. Because of this double standard portrayal of friendship they had displayed, they were my comfort. This is completely opposite of the stereotypical bully that is portrayed in films and American TV shows.
After many months of crying and learning how to smile, I graduated my elementary school and entered high school. All the people that bullied me were all in the same high school as me. But over the summer, I made sure to surround myself with individuals that cared about me. This may seem like the typical way students who have been bullied overcome their fear and it is, but this method helps you and teaches you to become a survivor.
After high school started, I had found a new group of friends. But even then, I was not confident. In reality, that process of healing forced me to create a new me. I was now the girl too shy to express her feelings and always kept a distance. What brought back my confidence was when one of the individuals who bullied me had apologized to me. That individual as fate would have it was getting bullied in high school and initially I thought, “Now he/she is getting what he/she deserved”. Until this day I remember what that individual had said, “Bansi I never realized that this is what bullying is. I could not be sorrier and I am so proud you stood up against me.” These words were what brought back my confidence. It didn’t come in just one second. It took a couple of months but it was back. When that individual had apologized to me, I didn’t say anything back because even though American TV shows portray a happy ending, life is not like that. I will still never forget what my peers did to me but I also today want to thank them for doing that. Because of that incidence, I learned to fall and get back up on my own.
So, in reality, this is a typical story of someone who was bullied but like movies portray, I didn’t go to get help. But getting help is never easy. It takes every bit of confidence to go to a counselor, teacher and/or parent and tell them that you are being bullied. TV shows like 13 Reasons Why explain the importance of getting help but also express how hard it is to go ask for help. In the last scene when Hannah goes to get help from the counselor and the counselor denies the help, this idea itself is a very common fear among individuals who are being bullied.
Just because I was able to come out of bullying without getting help does not mean that no one should go get help. We as a society have formed many organizations and have many counselors and helplines that allow you to get the help you need and so you should never feel denied. No bullying experience is the same and never will it be the same. We are fortunate enough that we have counselors and teachers who are willing to go the extra mile and get you the help you need but you just have to have that confidence. You have to break that fear of being judged and getting denied the help. The worst part that I had faced during my bullying incident was not getting help. Crying in the washroom is not the solution. Suicidal thoughts are not the solution. Just because I never followed through with a thought of committing suicide does not mean someone else won’t.
So, Google may define bullying as a physical trauma or emotional trauma, but it does not define how confident you become. For everyone who is currently being bullied just know that there has been someone in that same spot as you who has risen from that. If I can do it, so can you!