“There is nothing on this Earth more to be prized than true friendship.” - Thomas Aquinas
When I just turned turned eleven, I was bullied by my best friends. The betrayal I experienced was so traumatizing I’m still wary when someone compliments me, or wants to be friends. I went through the bullying alone and it was the worst pain I’d ever felt. I never want anyone to feel the pain I felt. Being bullied in the pre-teen and teen years has incredible emotional impact on how someone views others later in life. No kid should ever go through bullying alone. “One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered” - Michael J. Fox. It is my mission to make sure no child or teenager has to go through tough times alone.
Growing up in a small town, everyone knew everyone. Rumors, even false ones, would be spread around like wildfire. The reason I was bullied was due to the fact that I no longer wanted to be friends with my best friends, they were mean to me from the get-go, but at times they were nice to me. I was torn. When I finally came back from a long summer, nasty rumors had been spread about me and my “best friends” no longer spoke to me. It got to the point where anything I did, they criticized. My family told me that the fear, anxiety, and sadness was in my head. They had tried their best to get justice for me, but in the end the school needed physical proof of either, assault, or harassment online to constitute it as “true bullying”. We moved the following month. I never mentioned my bullying to my peers because I didn’t want to be called weak, or be seen differently. I just wanted a new life. Moving to has impacted me in a great way; I made lots of new friends, I was happy, until my bullies would screenshot my Instagram pictures and point out every flaw I had in a group-chat. I vowed to never be as hideous as my bullies made themselves out to be. I try my best to defend anyone I see being bullied, but sometimes people slip through the cracks.
The news about Amanda Todd really put my feelings about anti-bullying into action. When I was a freshman in high school I decided to become a “listener” on the website, 7 Cups. I listened to people venting about school, their friends, their relationships, and even family. I tried my best to give them advice that I thought would be right for them. It took a while for me to realize that I needed someone to listen to me too. I never had a teacher or guidance counselor I could pour my feelings out to, I’ve never felt that connection with an adult before, not even with my own parents. That’s where my journal comes into play, and my friends that I trust dearly. I doodle, and write daily entries about how my day went, but if I needed to talk to someone, I would always confide in my two close friends. They always know what to say.
I’ve always wanted to start a club or join an organization to rally against bullying, especially in high school where its most prominent. However, as a teenager, I know how nasty people can be towards others who are not like them. I had a lot of encouragement from my friends and some teachers to start the club, but I never ended up falling through. My peers made fun of me for wanting to start something like that, because if anything, it would make the bullying worse. Bullying doesn’t discriminate and can affect anybody of any age, race, religion, or sexual background. More times than not, bullying starts out with one of those attributes and an individual may be picked on because of what makes them different from a crowd full of people who just want to fit in and be “normal”. Although I didn’t start the club, I still try and listen to people’s problems on 7 Cup and give them the advice they need. Giving people good advice makes me feel so powerful and like I did something extremely good in the world, it is very fulfilling.
I never thought I would ever want to become an activist against bullying but it became something so important to me that I couldn’t just let it get away from me. I never want another child or teenager to go through what I went through, alone; no one deserves to be left behind. Teen suicides due to bullying have increased by 50% in the last decade, and more than 85% of people do not intervene when they see bullying taking place. It’s time to take a stand against bullying. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” I’ll try my best to do what’s right and encourage others to do what’s right as well, because people can do the smallest things but impact other people in an substantial way.