How to Overcome Bullying and Live Freely

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

5 Ways to Say “No” to the Social Pressures of Having Children

Having children is one of the most beautiful experiences any woman could have. To love a child and to share one of the strongest bonds possible with them is a feeling that many would agree is nothing short of amazing. For most of my life, I’ve believed that I would one day be a mother, and that I would be good at it. I would teach my child to be compassionate, and to work hard to chase their dreams. At the same time, I would learn to be brave and always stand for good reason. Like all things, though, that must come in proper time, but as I approach my 30th birthday, everybody is beginning to worry that it may never happen.

As watching my friends’ pregnancies brings me closer to the idea of having my own, that pressure from my family is slowly jackhammering me down. I can’t help but imagine throwing away my cell phone and taking a long vacation to Tibet to relax and get away from it all. It’s not even that they’re saying I’m too old or too selfish; what hurts me most is their idea of “framing up a guy” just to get a child. I can’t possibly entertain such a thought, even if it was the only way to “persuade” a man who doesn’t want children.

Before starting a family, I believe that you should have a long-lasting, deep relationship with your partner. This bond should be able to survive baby night shifts, and function even with a lack of sleep for months at a time. Although I want to experience the love between a mother and child, but before that I would not mind to experience to be a wife.

If you’re in the same position as me, where calm explanations simply are not getting through, then I have some good tips. Here are a few strategies to help you say “no” to these pressures and hopefully get your point through.

1. Learn the Art of Changing the Subject – An old trick, but it doesn’t always work depending on the person. Nevertheless, it’s always worth a try when you hear something like, “You know, you’ll be an old mother picking up your children from school. The other parents will be suspicious!” While I’m sure most of us would like to tell them to mind their own business, that may not be the best way to handle a family relationship. Instead, try to bring up a new topic, such as, “Oh, did you hear that Adam, my old friend from school, went to Cambodia for two years?”

2. Take a Bathroom Break – The bathroom may be the perfect place to escape from an uncomfortable situation for a few minutes. When you notice the cloud of argument forming, painting you as a bad mother before you even get the chance to have a child, try excusing yourself until it passes.

3. Play Verbal Ping Pong – This technique is quite well-known to anyone trying to avoid uncomfortable topics, although to be effective, you need to know your opponent. The goal is to answer their question with a question, hoping that they either trail off topic or become tired of not getting any answers and drop the conversation entirely. Note that this may need to be repeated several times before you see tangible results.

4. Tell a White Lie – A small lie in the name of peace barely counts, right? If the other methods don’t seem to be working, this may be your best bet to get your family off your back. Simply tell anyone trying to push you that you are, in fact, trying to have a baby. Since pregnancy cannot be controlled, saying that you’ve been trying without success should make them happy enough. Furthermore, if you want to completely drop the subject, you can add that it’s a sensitive topic and you’d rather not talk about it.

5. Be Assertive – This is not an ideal or effective way to end the endless pressure, but it will at least be more compatible with your decision. Remember that convincing others of your opinion may be a never-ending battle with unequal chances of winning, but it’s still worth a shot. Maybe you’ll get lucky and win a few of the arguments!

 

photo by Katarina Wolnik-Vera: sesiones de fotos en Barcelona

Great thanks to Ellielove for proofreading

 

5 F**K!NG awesome New Year’s resolutions

With the first week of 2015 having just passed, I’m ready to start on my resolutions – especially since this year is going to be an incredible breakthrough! Although 2013 was the worst year of my adult life, I turned it all around in 2014 simply by promising myself that it would be better. Now it’s time to do the same with 2015, the year of my 30th birthday, and face my challenges head-on. Everything seems to be changing, and the things that not long ago seemed so far in the future are starting to become familiar. Even my first wrinkles are no longer disappearing when I stop smiling; they’ve become a part of my story. For women, turning 30 is like turning 40 for men – you start to feel time bearing down on your shoulders.

There’s no time like the present, though, so it’s time to change something! It’s time to accomplish my goals, to go for the gold, and to grow the balls to finally chase my dreams. Will you join me on this journey?

My F**K!NG New Year’s resolutions are:

1.To Be Strong

It doesn’t matter if someone shares the same DNA as me, if they’re older or louder, or if they really think they know better: I will not let anyone try to keep me down this year. I will promise myself that other people’s words of fear will not affect me. This is my most important resolution. Nobody can live your life, and nobody can stop your dreams from coming true if you have the courage to ignore them and reach for the stars.

2. To Trust My Own Instincts 

It’s not easy when you start to float on unknown seas. For me, running my own company is like swimming in deep, dark water full of surprises and unexpected turns. There are no right answers, and each decision could either lead me to the warm sand or cause me to down. For the last few months, I tried to push away my instincts because I was afraid of doing the wrong thing, but there’s no real way to avoid making at least a few mistakes. Honestly, you can’t play safe all the time, and you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. All we need to do is trust ourselves and have a willingness to fight for what we believe in.

3. To Love, Not Demand

Love is not a conditional feeling that works like a recipe in a cookbook. You can mix bit of this and that, and have a great cake, but love just doesn’t work the same way. Love can be difficult and full of compromises. Love can push you out of your comfort zone. For this year, my goal is to be less demanding and more open to little things. I don’t want to force people to my level, but instead find common ground somewhere in between. No one can be your “other half”, your copy paste twin with all the same goals and feelings, but a loved one should be complementary to you. Don’t be with someone just because you believe you should; be with them simply because you want to.

4. To Be Brave and Make Good Decisions

Life is full of tough choices and nothing can make them easier. It gets even more complicated when you’re at the beginning of a so-called “startup”. As Sean Parker says, “Running a start-up is like eating glass. You just start to like the taste of your own blood.”  This year, I have to have faith in Lippi, and my desire for success needs to be greater than my fear of failure. For us to accomplish what we want this year, we have to be brave and believe in ourselves, even when swimming in a sea full of hungry sharks.

5. To Work Hard and Succeed. 

Success is not a destination, but the road I want to be on. To do that, I’ll need to work hard every day on my business and myself. I want to feel fulfilled and truly alive when I look back and see how far I’ve come, even just from one day to the next. There are certainly many failures and mistakes left for me, but only hard work will keep me focused and able to overcome them. Take the first steps with me this year – together we’ll find determination and stick to it, no matter what.

photo by Katarina Wolnik-Vera 

Great thanks to Ellielove for proofreading