Tonight I was flipping channels and trying to decide if I should dive into my work or watch TV. All the sudden I saw the story of Jessica Logan, a young lady from a town that I had previously lived in and she went to the high school my brother did. I had no idea of the connections I had to this girl. The show I was watching was 48 hours-Bullying Words Can Kill.
The show took me down a lane I am not so proud of. I, too, was once a bully. It has been one big huge regret I have carried with me most of my life. It was behavior that was really isolated to about 1-2 years of my life and I look back embarrassed and ashamed I could hurt anyone in such a spineless way. I honestly have spent the rest of my life since then trying to make up for the kindness I didn’t give.
The story I am about to tell you in no way excuses my bullying ever. I thankfully had the opportunity to make amends for my bullying and even consider some of my victims close personal friends to this day. I made mistakes and I made amends and they have thankfully forgiven me.
In all honesty the bullying I did was extremely different than the bullying you hear on the news daily. It is most certainly one of those moments that us old people look back and say, “They didn’t do things like that when we were young.” It was still unacceptable. I was a new girl in a new town one too many times and not eager at all to be treated as the new girl. So I went out of my way to be considered a hard ass. I would make people uncomfortable with my mean gaze and purposefully run into them in the hallways. If there were people (specifically girls) that I thought were judging me or anything of the sort they became my target. I never spoke to them but I made sure to show them they were my target in every way possible.
What I did were the actions of an insecure teenage girl that didn’t want to be treated as “new” again. I had moved schools by this 4 times and had had 4 different houses in a very short time span. I just did not want to be on the receiving end of being ostracized for being new because most of the time I was. It is hard to make friends when you don’t know if you will move again and most weren’t eager to be friends with the new girl for some reason. Again it still does not excuse my horrible and cruel behavior.
Thankfully, I had some amazing people who saw pass my facade I had created. They continually tried to befriend me and show me that they did accept me. And eventually that mean girl gave birth to the person I am today. In a matter of a year I went from sitting at lunch by myself staring daggers down at everyone who bothered to look my way to sitting at lunch surrounded by my many friends and always inviting the “new” people to join us. I made an unconscious promise to myself in that time I believe. I never let anyone new feel outside. It was/is a shitty feeling. I extend it into my every day dealings at PTO meetings, in both the classes I teach and take. It just is not me anymore.
I also managed to hopefully translate that into something my girls can understand in their social circles. I have always taught them that sometimes the meanest, most annoying people are the ones that need the most love. I am proud say what I have been able to see they are carrying on my promise. Bullying now is so different and so much more accessible with the internet and cell phones. It makes me scared for them. Hopefully though with my experience on both sides they can firmly land right where they need too.