What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

April 14, 2017
By SeinL SILVER, Monterey, California
SeinL SILVER, Monterey, California
7 articles 0 photos 1 comment

'The following passage will include powerful and grim languages you might not expect from a young teenage girl.' I considered adding this phrase to my essay as I was writing, because I will talk about the person who made me hate myself for the first time in my life, and hopefully the last. That person is Sue, my 5th grade bully. I do not consider myself as a dark person now, but the eleven- year- old girl that I once was had eyes full of fear and despise. When an adult hears from a little girl that she wants to die because of the 'petty' things her bully did, (s)he will most likely tell her that she is overreacting, and that she should be sorry to her parents. Or at least that was the reaction I thought I would get if I said anything. As I write the things Sue said or did to me, I realize that they would not affect me as much now and I would have better ways of coping with it, but the younger me did not, as it was the first time she experienced school violence.

Before transferring schools soon to meet Sue, I had just came back to Korea from a year in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was a naïve child who was more book- smart than street- smart; a little spoiled, too. Even if I was only gone for a year, it was still a big transition for me, as I had grown fond of my temporary life in the States. The moment I walked through the door of that classroom, I was unaware of the new challenges I would face. Sue introduced herself to me. She seemed like a nice girl and we became friends. That only lasted for the first month. Our friendship was over when she suddenly started being mean to me; in a complex, ambiguous way. In front of others, she would treat me as her friend, having me fooled for the time being. When she was alone with me, her innocent- looking gaze transformed into a monstrous, hateful glare and she would go back to making me feel as if I was some sort of underdog. I was not accustomed to anyone treating me other than kindly and graciously, obviously because those were the only ways I ever learned about treating others.


I remember this one cloudy day. We were in Korean literature class, and Sue’s desk was next to mine. When I looked over to Sue, I could read straight from her face ‘Sein’s existence makes me mad’. I looked away. I did not want to walk on the eggshells called Sue that would pierce my insides as it cracked. However, the more I tried to ignore her and pretend that I did not care, the more I did care. It was during this inner conflict when she took a pencil, reached out and wrote on my desk quietly but violently; “you disturb me. Get lost! Go back to America!” I have no other words to describe how I felt that moment except for downright embarrassment and utter shock.

This particular event and many others made me want to stand up right out of my desk and tell my teacher, or even the whole world, how terrible Sue is. However, the thing that frustrated me the most was that others were not able to recognize her as the mind- controller she was. This made it so much harder for me to consult adults nearby. I finally decided to at least tell my parents about the situation. It was difficult, but it certainly would have been better than keeping it to myself for the rest of the school year. One of the first things my parents said to me was ‘Sue is just jealous because she knows you are so much smarter than her and that you get better grades’. I knew that my parents felt very sorry and that they were trying to make me feel better, but this only helped me to some extent.

I eventually came to realization that it does not make Sue a better person just because she is doing things that indicate I am a lesser being. Who is she to tell me who I can or cannot be? Really, I deserved better than being bullied and judged by some random girl. The whole time those horrible things were going on, I was questioning Sue. I was approaching the situation with the questions ‘why is she doing this to me? Why does she hate me?’ Instead, I should have been questioning myself. I started to ask ‘why am I letting this happen to myself?’ The thing is, it is hard to get the right answer by questioning Sue. I would never be able to know what she was thinking, and she would never tell me. However, I know myself, and I trust myself to give me the answer.

To withstand a bully, whether it is at school or in society, the best thing you could possibly do is believe in yourself. I understand that this is an overused phrase that could be found anywhere in the world, but nobody ever explained exactly why you have to believe in yourself. So here is my explanation; all people are equally wonderful beings, and even if it sometimes might be hard to realize it, everyone knows it deep inside. All that needs to be done is to bring the self- confidence out at the right moments, and big mountains will suddenly seem like tiny molehills.

I am a strong believer of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, which means that it can be good to face struggles in order to become a stronger person. Meeting Sue was certainly a new experience for me, and of course she did things to me that I never deserved, but it gave me an opportunity to figure out how to overcome new hardships. I always thank her for making me tougher, and I forgive her, which the younger me was sadly not able to do. I am sure that she learned her lessons and has turned into the amazing girl she was meant to be. Without having been exposed to Sue or those situations, I would not be the me that I am now. The things I once thought was unbearable turned out to be the greatest gifts in life.

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