I have briefly mentioned experiencing bullying before, but after hearing about an incident in Netherlands of a young Tamil boy who took his life due to bullying, and receiving an email from a girl yesterday about similar issues she is facing, I thought I will write a blog about my thoughts on this, in the hope that this may create a ray of hope for anyone out there who feels what I felt many years ago.
I grew up in a refugee camp to begin with, and since my parents didn’t speak German, I was not able to pick up the language very quickly, so I went to kindergarten and was picked on for not knowing German. Not just by fellow kids, but also the teachers, who isolated me and never included me in anything. When I started primary school, I was picked on immediately. We didn’t have school Uniforms in Germany, and my parents couldn’t afford to dress me in nice things, so I was picked on for my dress code, not speaking German, and for being coloured. Germany in the 90s was extremely racist. I was called names just because of my skin tone.
In my last year at primary school, I used to get beaten up during break, I used to go home with bruises, and my mum believed every story I told her. My parents were never even aware of what went on at school.
When I started high school, things got better, only to then be told that we are moving to England. I hated the high school system here. Yes we had Uniforms, and the teachers had a lot more control over students and waited at the bus stops until every student got on, but that never stopped the bullies. I had to sit at the front of every class due to my language barrier (yep, I spoke no word of English at the age of 14), and the so called ‘cool’ kids sitting at the back used to chuck paper at me when the teacher wasn’t looking. On one occasion I had chewing gum chucked at me, which got caught in my hair, and I waited to use the bathroom, to cry in the cubicle because I couldn’t get it out of my hair.
I was teased for the way I looked, for having a hairy upper lip, for the way I dressed, for the way I spoke, for not being academically smart. Naturally I had no friends either. Not in Kindergarten, not in Primary school, and not during High School either. The only person I became friends with was also being bullied, so we were both always picked on.
I genuinely believed that Uni will change everything, but it didn’t. I moved out, and initially made friends with the people I lived with, but very soon they made their own friends from their courses and I was left on my own again. I tried really hard to make friends in my course, but I really struggled. I hated having group work or a lab partner, as I was always the last person to be selected. No one wanted to work with me.
I still managed to make a few friends who I am still close with to this day. But man, making friends during those days just wasn’t easy for me.
I was depressed, miserable, and just super insecure. I had the odd person I hung out with, or was desperate to have a boyfriend because I thought at least that way I won’t be lonely, but to no luck. Things never seemed to work out for me very well. (And when you are this vulnerable and lonely, you do attract the wrong kind of guys, so please please do not make the same mistake. It is better to be on your own, than wind up with a psycho boyfriend who will make you fell much worse about yourself than any of those bullies at school).
I didn’t tell anyone about it, and I didn’t talk to a therapist either. In fact none of my family members knew about it, and the teachers/lecturers weren’t aware either. Do you know what I did about it? I learned to not care about them. I figured that a few years down the line none of these people are going to matter. I took a vow that I will make something of my life, and that I will be happy, content, successful, and achieve my goals. I used to want those things, just so I can have people begging to be my friend.
Well today that doesn’t influence my decisions of course. Today I have learned to do things on my own, to be independent, and to run my own business. I achieved all the things I set out to achieve, and whoever stuck by me through this painful and long journey, are the ones I really regard as friends and who really matter to me. To me, my parents and my cousins are still my number ones, and every one else I meet along the journey come and go, and I am content with that. People who want to be friends with you because of success or fame, are never really real friends. Trust me!!!
I have considered taking my life numerous times during those awful years. I used to think no one would even notice if I am gone, and that I would probably enrich their lives by killing myself. I am telling you, I have never crossed paths with any of these bullies since leaving school, and I am glad that I never took my life for their satisfaction. Bullies make you believe that something is wrong with you, when in reality something is wrong with them. They are the miserable and unhappy ones, and they get their notion of happiness by making others suffer. It is their way of coping, their way of surviving. It is not your fault. In fact be the better person and feel sorry for them, if you are not able to do so, then just ignore them.
I could write an entire essay of what you could do to those mean bullies, but stooping to their level is never wise. We don’t know what they are going through nor why they are so bitter and unhappy. They must be fighting their own battles at home. Who cares? It is not your problem. You are loved, you have a beautiful family, and you have a roof over your head and cooked food on the table, stay strong and put up with it until you can make active choices. Yes you could change schools, or jobs, or stop being friends with the person that constantly picks on you. But does that solve the problem? It deals with the symptoms not the source. How we react to these situations is dealing with the source of the problem. Just ignore them, and don’t change. Be the same kind person you want to be.
You would think bullying only happens in schools, but no it happens at work, it happens in relationships, it even happens amongst family members. We can never get away from a bully. They are everywhere, and around us. But we have the power to do something about it. To make choices that allow us to stay away from such people. Or remove ourselves from these situations. The first step is to talk to a loved one, confide in them, and let them help you. If you don’t, then there are professionals you can talk to at school or even at work to make them aware of this.
I once had a staff member bully me at work for over a year. Since I became an expert at being bullied, I just noted down everything; anything he said or did. I never encouraged him, nor reacted to his behaviour. (Even though I used to cry at home, or in the bathrooms), and then after about six months of collecting evidence, I wrote a huge letter to HR, filed a formal complaint, and after a few interviews he was sacked. And I worked happily ever after!
Even now, I sometimes get cyberbullies. I even have some family members who bully me. I deal with it every day.
Why should you suffer for someone else? Why does the other person matter more than you? Why is it ok to feel sad, irrelevant, and lonely? Why?
No one has that right or that kind of power over you. So don’t let them!
Just use me as an example. I was bullied most of my life, and today I regard myself as a successful and independent woman. I am also about to leave my family and friends and move to another country where I am not going to know anyone and start from scratch. I got those bullies to thank! I became tough and strong because of them.
So get up, dust off, and LIVE!!! Life gets better. I promise!!!
Feature image courtesy of MY Photography.