Bullying isn’t going anywhere. Working for a parenting magazine makes this quiet clear. Heck, not living under a rock makes it clear.
Every person encounters bullying to various degrees, as a child or as an adult. Some are the bullies. Some are the bullied.
I learned how to deal with bullies early on. Whether it’s the cattiness of young girls, or ignorance of another culture, I’ve seen bullying and the way I get through it has forever been: Living well is the best revenge.
Haters gonna hate. I learned to rise up and be better than what they said and made me feel like I was.
This reminds me of one time that I was bullied in the most ridiculous ways, and I almost let it get the best of me. I felt alone, and like there was nothing for me to do but run away.
It was in college. Yes, college.
At the ripe age of 18, I moved into Ledges at Quinnipiac University where I shared a huge room with three other girls. Three girls with whom I would have never been friends with otherwise. We were all wildly different, me more so than the rest of them. There was the Long Island sweetheart who used to be besties with Lindsay Lohan, the cheerleader from upstate New York who won the senior superlative for best smile (I must have heard that 50 times in the first week), and the artsy wildcard.
I didn’t party. I didn’t go out during the week. I stayed in, did my homework, wrote on my livejournal, and generally laid low. Night after night, they came in with friends, flicking on the overhead lights, blasting music, laughing, and continuing to do shots of fruity flavored alcohols on Tuesday nights. All while I attempted to sleep.
One September Friday night, I snapped, cried my eyes out, packed my stuff up, and was picked up at 2am by my mother and younger sister. I never wanted to go back. I remember by the time my mother arrived, the three of them pretended that they had all been sleeping and had no idea why I was upset.
After a long weekend of crying at home, my parents talked me into going back, and the school allowed me to move dorms. I’m glad I did. I absolutely loved every moment after I moved out from that dreadful room. The girls whom I lived with after that time, professors I learned from, trips I took, love I encountered, and mistakes made– it was all completely worth those few weeks of pain.
Fast forward nine years, and one of my closest university friends is at the wedding of another Quinnipiac alumni. At dinner, there’s a girl who starts talking about this roommate she had freshman year, whom she and the other girls tortured. Actually using the word “torture.” She mentioned my ethnicity, the fact that I stayed with my ugly high school boyfriend, and how it was all a joke between herself and the other two girls.
They were trying to get me to leave the school for no other reason than they just didn’t want to live with me.
My friend and her husband were completely floored by this girl bragging about bullying a roommate nine years prior to this conversation. Yes, you are reading that correctly, a college graduate, at the age of 27, at a friend’s wedding, was bragging about the time she bullied a girl when they were 18.
This made me thankful for my friends, because my friend who was present for that conversation was angered by the story, but thankful that I left them because it brought me to her. After feeling loved, it made me laugh because I had moved on. I will never like those girls. I will never forget the pain they caused, but I don’t care anymore. She still does.
You win some, and you lose some. That’s how it is. The best way to approach bullying is to see that there is something about you that your bully perceives as a threat. It could be your looks, your brain, your socio-economic standing, something materialistic, or you remind them of some sort of hidden pain.
See it. Accept it. Then vow to live higher than it.
It’s easier said than done, and I know that children and teens are vicious these days, but I think this is something that we need to tell each other and our children. If we can’t stop the bullies, we need to empower each other and those being bullied. It takes a lot more than just asking them to hold on for that one day when it may or may not get better.
Stay strong, and live better.