This is the continuation of my post about my personal experiences with being bullied. If you missed part one, find it here. As I said yesterday, this is a bully-free zone, so if I see mean, petty, or derogatory comments, I will be deleting them. As the old saying goes, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Thanks.
What made me such an easy target for bullies? Probably because I was an easy target. I was just popular enough that everyone knew who I was, but not enough to have the social standing to be the one doing the teasing. I am very emotional; I wear my emotions on my face, so it was very clear when the bullies were getting to me. I had a huge desire to fit in, and those sorts of people are always targets.
How did I react to being bullied? No well actually (who would?) After I realized laughing at them and/or with them wasn’t cutting it, and that I wasn’t a strong enough person to start dishing it back, I started trying too hard. This started mainly sophomore year. I tried so hard to fit in, to be friends with those girls. But it only gave them more ammunition for jokes and only made me cry harder at night.
After that I began retreating into myself. I was never quiet or very shy, but I avoided social situations. I stopped making plans with friends (except those who really mattered). I started reading more (everything’s happier in books). I started slumping my shoulders and walking with bad posture so I could be as small, and as invisible, as possible. I lost any self-confidence I ever had.
Friends from college and grad school are probably reading this, wondering how the hell could this be the same person. While I tended to shy away from constant parties and social engagements, in college, and especially in grad school, I was not quiet nor did I act like someone who was lacking in self confidence. I am social, fairly outgoing, and I like to organize group outings, whether it’s a night out, throwing a dinner party, or getting a group together to see a movie, it’s hard to see the bullied girl in me now.
So how does one get over being bullied? You don’t, not really. But it is possible to move past it and put it behind you. I did it in three ways.
- I had a breakdown. My freshman year of college was a nightmare, mostly because I was waiting to be rejected and bullied at every turn. My confidence was so low that when I was dropped from a few houses during sorority recruitment, it was like someone had ripped off my arm. Not knowing enough guys to find a date to our formal was like being called Mrs. Hippo all over again. After several very rough nights, some medication, and two bouts of therapy, I came out of it a stronger, better person.
- I found better friends. A lot of my problems in high school stemmed from who I wanted to be friends with rather than who I should be friends with. It took me two years of college to narrow down a good, solid, core group of friends, but once I did, I realized that I didn’t have to try so hard. People either like you or they don’t. Just like you either like people or you don’t. It doesn’t really matter in the long run that some people don’t like you, as long as you have a group of people who love you for who you are (no matter how crazy or neurotic), not who they (or even you) think you ought to be.
- I put the past behind me. I used to dream about what I would say to those girls who made me so miserable, until I actually ran into one at a party. She chatted, laughed, and reminisced with me as if none of those things had ever happened. And then I realized, “she probably doesn’t even remember”. She wouldn’t remember what she had said 7 or 8 years ago, and even though it destroyed my life at the time, in the larger scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter. I wasn’t physically hurt because of the bullying I endured, and thanks to some good therapy, I had let most of my bitterness towards the bullies in my past go. So I put the idea of tracking down those petty girls and humiliating them like they humiliated me so long ago behind me. Revenge wouldn’t make me any better than them. Bringing up old wounds in a public place, while it might make me feel better, would only be rude and upsetting to people around me. So I let it go. I may not have fully forgiven them and I probably won’t be any more than polite, I will look them in the face with dignity and calm, and let my actions show just how awesome I’ve become.
I appreciate you letting me tell my story. I realize these are long posts, and I thank you for your time. Were you the target of a bully? Were you the bully? If you would like, please share your story in the comments. And no fear of cyber bullies; if I find mean and/or derogatory comments, I will delete them. This is a bully-free zone.