Most of us have been a part of this story, albeit in different roles. We’ve been the bullies, acting out our insecurities. We’ve been the bullied, trying to stand up for ourselves. Or, we’ve been the bystanders, staying out of trouble.
I’ll admit it, I’ve always been overweight. I cannot recall the last time I was happy with the way I looked (sadly, a lot of us feel this way, but that is a topic for another day). I can’t solely blame my genetics for it, my eating habits are anything but healthy and I haven’t really had any will – power to incorporate physical activity into my routine. However, I strongly believe that growing – up ‘fat’ (ouch!) has shaped who I am today.
I was extremely introverted in my school days, I hardly spoke to anyone outside my friend circle, which comprised of 2 people. It certainly didn’t help that I was a plump girl who wore spectacles and suffered from bad acne. I was surrounded by people who seemed so confident, which deepened my inferiority complex. The final blow came when I began to be mocked for how much I weighed, how much older than my years I looked. My already fragile self-esteem shattered into a million pieces. They don’t tell you how mean kids can be. They were just words, but they hurt so much. I started to dread going to school, or anywhere, as a matter of fact. I felt like my looks were under constant scrutiny wherever I went. As I withdrew deeper into my shell, I stopped doing things kids my age did (like going to play outdoors, for those were the days before dial – up Internet, which certainly didn’t help my weight). All I wanted was to be left alone in my room.
Looking back now, I realize that this experience molded me into a strong, sensitive and smart individual. I built a whole other world for myself in my room. I read, developed my taste in music, watched a lot of great movies and T.V. series and that in turn, opened up my mind to the ways of the world. I learnt to how be body – positive and to how to overcome social anxiety. I learnt to develop a thick skin (somewhat, I’d be lying if I said that other people’s words don’t affect me but hey, I’m working on it!) and also learned to be empathetic towards people in similar situations. But most of all, I started to enjoy my own company. Do I regret never standing up to my bullies? Yes, but I also feel satisfaction when I look at how far I’ve come.
A bully’s words or actions may last for a few seconds but the effects stay with the bullied for much longer. It took me years to feel comfortable in crowds again. I used to have no sympathy for bullies and hated them with all I had. However with age and (a little) maturity, I saw that the bully is not the problem, the bullying is. A person picking on somebody else very likely has a lot of issues of their own to deal with, ranging from deep-rooted insecurities to lack of attention and love at home. This person must be shown empathy and needs counselling and supervision. We all know that behavioural patterns are easier to change when young.
To all the people who face bullying, I’d like to say this – You’re not the problem! Speak up, reach out to your loved ones for help and support. And never lose faith because you’ll come out of this and you’ll come out a better version of yourself.