Bullying by Rimsha Atique
Bullying: It’s a global word which many have heard of and have experienced. However, it is such a major and controversial topic, many do not feel comfortable talking about because of the experiences they had or the consequences that may occur if they spoke out. Sharing one’s personal feelings can often lead to others sharing theirs and that can lead to a wide range of networks of people who want to reach out or just want to share what they felt or how they feel in order to help themselves and quite possibly will help others. This will hopefully be a message from me to you to show that it is okay to speak out.
Before I went to high school, I was a quiet, shy girl who didn’t have much confidence and didn’t quite have the right social skills when I left primary school. So I was basically placed in an awkward position to prepare myself for my next milestone. My parents placed me in an only girl school because their idea of boys mixing in with girls in a place of education was a total NO NO as boys lead to trouble and are distracting which backfired on them (my poor parents) but that’s another story for another day.
Being placed in a new environment with new people was extremely nerve-wracking for me because I only wanted what everyone would want- to be liked. My first year of high school feels like a blur because I only ever remember moving from one social group to another. It ranged from the smart ones who could never get an answer wrong to the class clowns who would make everyone laugh but not the teacher of course. I never regretted having this multi-network around me because it made me discover who I am as an individual, sounds cliché right? But it made me who I am today but it couldn’t be without learning some harsh lessons along the way of course.
I was never worried about bullying. It was a topic that was highly discussed near the end of primary 7, usually circle time when we were handed a random object and forced to talk about how we feel. However it never once crossed my mind that I could be a victim of bullying. During the early years of high school, I met a group of girls who were loud, popular and from my own point of view, they had character. I knew I wanted to be exactly like them. For me to fit in, I started acting like them. I was loud; I was crude, made online social networks, connections, posted pictures and statuses like I was having the time of my life. Truthfully speaking I loved every bit, I loved the attention I gained and I also gained what my main motive was in the beginning; I was part of the group. For a while, it was great, I had a laugh, did things I never thought I’d do. I started smoking, rebelled against my parents, never did any school work and here I was sat with my naive mind thinking life was great. Then it backfired on me. It started on social media first when BBM, MSN and Facebook were the ways of socialising with peers and people outside your social network basically around the world which is quite scary especially for a naive 13 year old girl.
It all started with a prank. The girls I associated myself with decided to play a silly prank on me which was to send me a message on a weekend and make me think I did something very wrong that jeopardised the “friendship” I had with them. I was sworn at, told I was worthless, a bitch, a liar, made to wonder what I had done. There I was… crying, apologising, begging for the acceptance I craved. I just wanted to be liked and feel belonged. Monday came, I dreaded it. I still remember the nauseating feeling I had in my stomach at the thought of going in and seeing those girls. I had my first morning class with them and there they were…eyes glistening from the laughter they were holding in, forcing their side smiles to turn into growls. There I was; still begging and apologising, entertaining their dark sense of humour. It was only an innocent joke. They finally accepted my gutless apology and everything was back to normal.
That was not the end of it. These silly little pranks and jokes continued for months. My self esteem was lowering itself each time into what felt like a dark pit of worthlessness. The hard part about this was no one could see my struggle to be accepted and this feeling of wanting to belong. No one could see the boundaries I pushed in order for me to feel accepted and placed in the position that I was in at that moment of time.
Sometimes the perpetrators don’t even realise the impact of their actions or that they’re even doing it and it’s the same for the victim. The victim might not even realise they’re being bullied and also might be made to believe that it is normal. It is not. Most people have their own definition of bullying and what bullying means to them. The dictionary definition of bullying is… “to use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something”. That is one type of bullying but for me and I’m sure for many others it means so much more. Bullying is when an individual or group intend to hurt someone emotionally or physically and this type of behaviour is usually repeated. It can be because of one’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or for no reason at all. Often the perpetrators might be unintentionally bullying a person because they also once were a victim. I can honestly say I was both the perpetrator and the victim. I made others feel worthless because I felt worthless. That is not to say it was okay for me to make others feel the same way I did, it was not okay and was horrible for me to do. I regret it every day but it also made me more open and forgiving towards my own perpetrators. What I’m about to say next might sound cliché however it is the truth and I live by this truth…
A person should never force themselves or feel forced, to do something or become something they’re not comfortable with in order to feel accepted. The best advice to give and to take would be this: be yourself. Accept who you are and the little things that make you, you. When you do that, you will be accepted by those who will appreciate your presence and help you grow into the wonderful being you were always meant to be. After all there will never be another you. This is one lesson I will carry with me always.