I’m taking a quick break from my usual beauty-related posts today to write about something a little different. On my Facebook ‘fanpage’, I asked you all what kind of posts you’d like to see on my blog in the future – someone asked me to write about how to deal with bullies and bullying. It’s not the kind of request anyone could easily overlook, and I wanted to share my advice with you all.
Firstly, I have to make this clear: bullying is not something that just happens at school. It can happen well into your adult life (although I sincerely hope none of you have to experience it) and, over time, you can learn to deal with it in your own way. Although I am only 20, I do feel that I am in some kind of position to talk about this issue, and will unreservedly. I will briefly talk about my own experiences, and then describe how I coped with the situation – I’m no expert, but I have some experience to draw upon, which might just be helpful to even one of you.
The funny thing is, you don’t always realise you’re being bullied at the time; when girls at school (I went to an all-girls’ school, which was at times a curse but equally a blessing in certain situations) would taunt me about various things, it didn’t register that it was a form of bullying. I wasn’t having my hair pulled, my possessions broken or my face slapped – but it still hurt. A lot.
I would be singled out for various reasons; I liked to wear more adventurous clothes than others (I developed my alternative style earlier than other girls in my year; funnily enough, years later they were dressing similarly to me), I was having some mild success as an Avril Lavigne lookalike (they particularly hated it when I was in magazines) and I had many male friends, which caused friction amongst the girls who they were dating at the time. Looking back, I can see that they were, perhaps, envious of certain things going on in my life (this might sound terribly big-headed, which isn’t my intention) . At the time, however, I felt depressed and anxious.
One of the times that the taunting did develop into something more was actually one of the defining moment of my teenage years. I was walking through the town I live in with a good friend, who also happened to be a goth at the time. We were confronted by a group of teenage boys dressed in tracksuits (it sounds almost too stereotypical to be true, but I assure you, it is). When we escaped from their verbal abuse (“mosher”, “greebo” and “freak” seemed to be their insults of choice) they begun to get physical, pelting us with food that they were carrying with them. They promptly disappeared into the local park. My friend was devastated; I was furious. Something came over me which prompted me to walk into the park and unleash a calm but firm lecture to those who had attacked us. I wish it had been filmed – I’d never felt so proud. I said explained various things, namely that clothing doesn’t MAKE you anything. From that moment on, I realised that standing up for yourself in an intelligent and assertive manner was the most powerful position you could ever put yourself into.
My outlook had been changed; I didn’t have to settle for people putting me down. I was proud of my fashion sense, my achievements and the true friends I had. And I made it known. When people would sarcastically congratulate me on a magazine appearance, I would smile widely and thank them (that really baffled them!). When girls made comments to me about wanting to ‘steal their boyfriends’, I would smile and calmly explain that, whilst I loved having their guy as a friend, I couldn’t be remotely romantically interested in him (that was taken in various ways). And, when those who teased me for wearing adventurous clothes started experimenting themselves, I would genuinely praise them for their individuality (prompting a few embarrassed-looking faces once they’ realised that, perhaps, I had been one to kick-start a trend).
Humour, wit, strength and true friendship are the only things you need to get through the hardest times. Thankfully, the only bullying I experience now is online (you’ve all seen the YouTube comments/gossip websites/tweets) – and I say ‘thankfully’ because it genuinely doesn’t affect me; someone sitting behind their keyboard insulting me is a far unhappier person than they could ever turn me into. Of course, cyber-bullying is a serious issue and you should always seek help if it is getting you down. If I see a negative comment, I simply delete it, then get back to my real life which is, by and large, a happy one.
Laughter is the best medicine – there was never a truer phrase. If you are experiencing bullying of any kind, the best thing you can combat the negative with is the positive. Think of what makes you truly happy – a good friend (or three!), sharing funny stories and memories, a hilarious film or TV show or just a good old chat. Never let those negative people run your life, and never, ever let them ruin it.
If you are experiencing serious problems, threats or feel that you can’t cope, there will always be someone to help you. If not friends or family, perhaps teachers, lecturers or your boss (if the problem is occurring at work). No one should ever be allowed to threaten you or make you feel unsafe, so don’t stand for this under any circumstances. Seek help and guidance from a higher authority and don’t be afraid of the consequences; once you start to deal with a problem, the end result will always be better than the current situation.
If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Stay Creative, and safe,