(Cont’d from Survivors of Cruelty Pt. 2)
Things were somewhat different in high school. I still faced some struggles with bullying, but it wasn’t nearly as rampant as it was in junior high. In addition, I gained the support of the remarkable staff and teachers (some of whom I still keep in touch with). Their influence, combined with my mother’s tireless devotion, was life-changing and something for which I’ll be forever grateful.
Some wounds never fully heal, no matter how much time elapses, but with time we become stronger to accept that certain events in our past cannot be changed. In time, those events cease to rule or determine who we are. Though it may seem like pain is perpetual, it’s just one of many transitions that life has in store for us. I know this may sound strange, but heartache can propel us to become the people we’re meant to be; that is, if we process it wisely. Throughout my teens I frequently had my heart broken (I know…Who hasn’t?). By my sophomore year in high school, I decided to swear off relationships until my college graduation. Life took an unexpected twist and I met my husband just months into my freshman year. This November will mark our 15th year as a couple.
The most powerful way to combat bullying at any age is to know thyself and what you truly stand for, independently of what anyone else thinks. Don’t seek to build yourself based on the shaky foundation of other people’s thoughts and opinions. Peers are fickle and can’t seem to make up their mind about what they want from one moment to the next. The same can be said of society. Why mold yourself to such an dubious standard? Why jump to their tune instead of creating your own? Don’t be afraid to be the odd one out. Don’t be afraid to take the ambitious road of being yourself vs. the lazy path of following everyone else’s template. Most importantly, never feel the need to seek permission to be yourself.
History has proven time and time again that people often attack and ridicule that which intimidates them or they can’t understand. The act of bullying is often fueled by some degree of insecurity or jealousy, no matter how strongly the offender may deny it. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until years after overcoming my darkest hours that I learned that some of my former bullies actually admired some of my traits as well as my resolve, not knowing how close I came to falling apart at the time. It struck me that some of them were truly clueless about the long-term damage their actions had inflicted. It truly amazed me that what at one time seemed impossible to live down was now barely a shadow in their memory. It also solidified two basic facts I’ve learned over the years:
1. Life goes on.
2. People tend to forget the things that embarrass us most.