The Pain of a Generation

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Think back to junior high. Now, try and take your own experiences out of the picture. Imagine yourself as a complete misfit. I’m not talking about having one or two things about you that are different: Imagine being a complete outcast. You’re unathletic, slowed by a physical disability, socially awkward from being put ahead a grade, and thinking on a level so high that sometimes your teachers, much less your peers, are blown out of the water. Now, imagine how it must have felt to face constant ridicule from your peers for all these factors, not one of which you’re able to control. It sounds frustrating, doesn’t it? While it’s hard for some to imagine what it’s like to have to constantly shield yourself from the onslaught of venomous words being spewed from all directions, there are some who have to deal with the backbreaking emotional load every day of their lives. And up until about two years ago, I was one of those people.

Throughout middle school, I faced bullying constantly. I was caught up in an incessant war, fighting for my dignity and happiness in a situation that only wanted to drag me down and make me hurt. As soon as my peers learned to use words to cause pain, I was an instant target. I’d been taught that the best weapon against bullies was compassion and confidence. But the problems continued. In seventh grade, I was the constant object of a specific individual’s hatred, which ended up taking an unfortunate turn: physical violence. I was fed up with the lack of action against the issue, despite informing authority figures, so when he attacked me, the anger, sadness, and misunderstanding as to why I was targeted boiled over and led me to do something I regret to this day. I struck back.

It’s unfortunate that the issue of bullying doesn’t resolve itself. While I might have needed to resort to physical confrontation to end my abuse, that’s definitely not the best way to stop a bully. Show confidence and compassion towards others, and it will instantly make yourself less of a target. Martin Luther King Jr. explained to the nation in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” why he fought for equal rights, it showed his confidence for the cause, and helped the civil rights movement gain headway, just like confidence from a victim can make headway against a bully. Bullies target those who are misunderstood. They spit hatred into the face of those who are different, instead of trying to understand. A target will be picked for their sexuality, religion, likes and dislikes, or even just basic personality traits. But when I made known that I wasn’t ashamed of being a brainy orchestra kid, and I would be willing to accept others for who they were, the pain stopped. Confidence and compassion are the best weapons against a bully. Just keep your head held high, and, while it might not look like it, life really does get better.





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