My mom was talking to me yesterday about the most recent case of bullying leading to suicide, in which a boy was stripped naked and thrown in a dumpster and his bullies took a video of it and posted it on youtube. And within a matter of time, the victim had ended his own life.
My first thought was that in my darkest, wildest fantasies, I simply cannot — CANNOT — imagine concocting such a horrible, villainous thing to do to do another human being, especially at that age (I think they were 10 or 11 years old). What I want to know is what kind of world are these bullies a product of, that they could so shamelessly act on these wicked thoughts?
As I’ve mentioned here before, and as my friends well know, I was bullied in high school (for me, “high school” consists for grade 7-12). For the vast majority of my high school years, I was harassed for just about every aspect of my personality and demeanor you can think of: my interests, my artwork, my shyness, my clothes, my hair, my weight, my gender even, what I chose to eat for lunch, the fact that I didn’t drink or do drugs, for listening to music, for the music I DID listen to, for liking the Beatles, for liking Harry Potter, etc. etc. etc. Yes, I actually WAS bullied for liking The Beatles. Not only were these words and slights constantly surrounding me but I was also heavily shunned; no one talked to me, wanted to work with me on school projects, no one bothered to care about what I was doing and what I was about, and everyone just went on their merry way with their friends and largely ignored me, unless they felt it necessary to say something mean to me, which was often enough.
I think the meanest things people ever did to me were either throw rocks at me on my way home from school, follow me home from school hurling insults at me about my weight, or wrote really dirty words on my locker. Which pale in comparison to being stripped naked and thrown in a dumpster. But the severity of bullying shouldn’t downplay or downsize the bullying itself. Bullying is bullying; you only know the severity you’re faced with and without a point of comparison, and with being such a young person to whom every action and every instance of shunning and ridicule feels like the end of the world, it will still make you feel afraid to get up every day and go to school and feel like you belong there or sometimes, feel like you belong anywhere.
I still remember almost every specific incident in which I felt small, alone, usless, helpless and like I didn’t matter at all. I’m so ashamed of a lot of these incidents I don’t even like to bring them up; they make me feel embarassed and weak, and even, despite that I KNOW this isn’t true, they make me feel like I created them myself. As if it was my fault for being so awkward and overweight and quiet and introverted that no wonder I was harassed. As I said, I know this isn’t true. But when the majority of the people around you, who had (in my case) spent every school day with you since the age of 6 essentially, feel the same way about you; it more or less skews your own version of reality after a while. And you become accustomed to what they say and what they do to you, because hey, that’s life. That’s what going to school feels like. That’s what being you feels like. You don’t know anything else.
Nowadays, I know a lot more than what I was made to feel like I knew then. I know I do have a place and community, and friends, and I can be a beautiful, strong person who fights for what she wants and has talents and who is proud of and embracing of the things she loves. Nowadays I feel feminine (I never felt feminine in high school) and even sometimes, SOMETIMES, I feel brave. Specifically when I look upon some of my many accomplishments and some of the best days of my life. Nowadays, I don’t really remember what it’s like to live such a solitary life, surrounded by hateful comments and so many people who you know you will NEVER be like, or emulate or even like at all that eventually you shut down and give up even trying to win them over or be a part of what they represent. I honestly can’t remember living in that world, despite that I did live in that world for five long grueling years of my life.
To anyone who is being bullied, regardless of the severity or the reason(s), I wish I could say: believe please, what the campaigns do say – it DOES get better. Honestly. It does. You may be sitting at home in your room alone wishing you had friends and that you didn’t get slapped in the face with senseless hate every day, but it won’t be like that forever. And if you end your own life or harm yourself to alleviate the kind of pain you feel inside, it only allows people who are victimizing you to win. It allows them to maintain complete control over your life, and do you really want people you fucking hate to have complete control over your life? I wish I could have the chance to address any kid who is being so mercilessly harassed and beat on and tell them only positive things about the changing nature of life and that someday, the world won’t revolve around them: it will revolve around you. And that real revenge happens after high school and that with persistence and remaining true to your character, you will be awarded every opportunity to showcase who you are and one day, find people who will not only appreciate those qualities in you, but love you so much for them, and for no other reason. I just hate to read of suicide due to bullying. It is among the most senseless and terrible reasons to end your own life, and it truly breaks my heart.