For as long as I can remember, I was always a bit different. I loved to dress differently, especially since my older sister was a never-ending distribution center for brands not sold in my home town. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t wearing Prada or Gucci or anything unrealistic; they were just simple clothes, although maybe a bit distinguished. Aside from that, I matured very quickly and always had my own opinion on matters, even if I was the only one standing for the cause. I loved being visible, which is actually still a part of my character. Even though now it seems like a huge benefit to not be a copy paste of everyone else, back in the day, it didn’t seem like an advantage at all. Instead, it was a source of constantly bullying.
The first time I was beaten up, I was maybe 13 years old. I’m not talking about a fight between kids, but a scene where several girls held one down while another, 4 years older than the rest and who looked more like a boy, punched her in the stomach repeatedly. The reason was always the same: gossip about something I never said or rumors of something I never did. It was always just a reason to be cruel to someone who wasn’t an accepted part of any social group. I recall very clearly the painful thoughts after it happened. I knew I couldn’t tell my teachers, as they were powerless to help. I couldn’t tell my mother, either, as her only advice would be “defend yourself! I did it, your sister did it, so you can solve this by yourself, too.” At the time, I was seriously afraid for my life and had no one to turn to.
The next time I was seriously bullied was in high school, and it was under almost the same circumstances, although without the painful punches. Still, I remember sitting in class, receiving heavy verbal lashings from the other girls every time I went to the board. It’s almost funny – today, those same girls are teachers and spend their days educating the younger generations. I guess anybody can change.
So what did I do to deserve the treatment I received? Terrible, horrible, almost unspeakable things such as… carrying a red bag. I had purchased the bag for a few cents in the capital city but, unfortunately, it was red while everyone else carried black bags. I also studied hard because I knew that I wouldn’t make it into a good university without high grades. I refused to smoke like the cool kids; watching my father die of lung cancer dissuaded me from ever picking up the habit. I wouldn’t gossip with my schoolmates, and preferred not being in any social group over being in one composed of people who disliked each other. Worst of all, I was successful. I had been given national recognition, which became a barrier between me and my classmates.
On the other hand, my teachers loved me even though I often skipped class and had a bunch of piercings. I know that they favored me usually because they saw me as an emerging adult instead of an uncertain, self-conscious teenager. They saw a kid from a poor family working hard to achieve something better in life.
I may sound bitter, but I honestly don’t blame those kids. Often, they were in worse situations than I was and experienced more cruelty than I could ever imagine. I know that not everyone is able to say ‘no’ to passing on brutality when it’s the only thing they know.
So now you may be wondering: How did I overcome it all? How come I never gave up? How did I not turn into a psychopathic bitch?
Well, first of all, I had more serious life problems than school bullies. I always tried to imagine my future as a happy person, as someone with something to share. I focused all my energy into that future and never allowed anyone to destroy it. When the bullying started in high school, I took up kickboxing as a form of self-defense. After all, if you live among sharks, the only way to stay alive is to become the strongest one. I have to admit, I became very good at the sport, and the more I trained, the more respect I had for martial arts in general. I never did have any fights outside of school, but knowing that I could use my hands to defend myself helped me to feel more confident and safe. But as always, with great power comes great responsibility, and I was more stressed about using my skills than being beaten. I understood how fragile humans can be.
Time was on my side as well, and as the older kids graduated and left school, there were less threats. I knew that the kids my age or younger didn’t understand me, that many of them didn’t like me, but they never dared to be physically violent toward me.
The best advice I can give is to never stop believing in yourself. Focus on an ultimate purpose for your life, and be damn sure that the place you’re in now isn’t the place you’ll stay – that place isn’t meant for you. Try your hardest to see beyond it, and once you do, never take your eyes off of the future. The inconveniences caused by other kids will all become a blurred void, nothing but white noise in the background. Life is a beautiful experience, so don’t allow a few misguided words or actions spoil it for you. Remember, that which doesn’t kill us can only make us stronger.
photo by Monika Glod – blogger
Great thanks to Ellielove for proofreading