I Was Bullied During My First Year of College

College. You know the clean slate state-of-mind all too well. But walking home alone on a bitter cold dusky Halloween night alone, after eating dinner, has a way of dirtying said slate. Believe me, I am wildly independent; it isn’t the walk or eating alone that bothers me at all. What irks me just a little bit too much is that I am doing all of these things after having not been told that the people I started the semester considering my family had left and returned from dinner without the slightest glance in my direction. 

I’m usually the friend on the losing end of the one-sided friendships and man there have been too many of those. Partially my fault of course because I’m poor at identifying healthy relationships, but that’s another issue. I thought coming to college would change things.

Just as a disclaimer: This is not meant to be a sob story, nor is it meant to be one of self-victimization. Sharing an experience does not mean sides need to be taken. I am not out to create an enemy nor do I wish to become one. Bullying in college is considered a taboo topic. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen, it just means that suddenly, five months after leaving high school, we are expected to suck it up and “handle it like adults." Which, is what I intend to do.

I am a first-year here at Oswego, coming from a high school three hours away where I played a leading role in programs for eradicating hate, harassment and bullying in the community. This included mentoring students, spreading awareness of what bullying looks like, teaching others how to be an upstander rather than a bystander and doing random small acts of kindness to remind people that they are worth it. 

To define the terms under which I worked: Bullying is the persistent, repeated act of things such as hate, prejudice, harassment and exclusion. It can be verbal, social, physical and/or emotional.

In my case, the relationships I formed became toxic through a web of partially resolved miscommunication, manipulation and purposeful exclusion. It feels like if I dare to disagree with—or be a different person than—the girl in this group, then there will be an issue. I’m not going to rant on about the specifics of things, because I’m writing this to try and help any illogical bitterness go, not grow. Also, I will fully own up to the fact that due to my choices to rant to the wrong people about the wrong things at the wrong time—thinking I was standing up for myself—had a hand in why that miscommunication came about.

One day I was being invited to everything and the next I have to hear about what people are saying about me behind my back. Or, with the obnoxious noise levels in my hall, I am made well aware of all I am not invited to. I’ve even noticed that new friendships I try to make around here are quickly commandeered.

Why, after having spent four years of my life standing up for other people, can I not stand up for myself? I suppose, in some ways, I tried and failed. My personality type is the one where if I’m not being “nice” and decide to, for example, politely ask people to quiet down, then I am instantly the bad guy. I’ve been told that it is how people take advantage of kind personalities, which can really suck. 

In other ways, I’ve dealt with this before and understand that it’s not worth the effort. There are other victims in this too that are going to have a much ruder awakening than I, if andwhen they mature enough to understand what has happened. It has been emotionally taxing. I have had nights where I scare myself into believing that this will bring back the depression-like thoughts I haven’t had in years. Even writing this, I sit fearing every aspect of things. But I also sit here really tired of what I’ve been put through. I’m tired of being told to be quiet about my opinions, my faith, my life. Especially when everyone else seems to get a say in both theirs and mine. 

This is me making the choice to walk away. Even if it means I need to take a while to feel really happy again, anything could be better than knowing someone has a negative hold on my life and takes satisfaction in that. These people live down the hall. There’s no avoiding them, but there will be no more letting them into my head. I’m going to go try, fail and try again because I still love life and I have never once regretted choosing Oswego. There are healthier things to focus on. So for now, I’ll enjoy my dinners alone and my autumn nights looking around for new opportunities.