Remember the days of grade school, where you’d go to school and hear about the kid being bullied because they were different? Remember how they would wear a funny shirt or have a strange haircut, talk weird or have a hobby no one else understood. Take a moment and remember if you were part of the bullying, or if you were part of the bullied crowd. Close your eyes and imagine what you looked like back then, before and right after puberty. When your voice changed. When your hips grew in. When you got your first period. When you didn’t know how to control your growth spurt. When you weren’t in college.
Now, remember when you first got to college. Remember how you were excited about a new prospect of a new idea of life and who you are. No one knew about the embarrassing person you were through school. No one knew your name or what you were about. No one knew your story or your family’s past, so you push your stories away and you pretend none of it ever happened.
Now, remember not fitting in. Remember being nervous or shy, or having no friends. And realizing that what makes you special from high school, may not make you special now.
We’ve all started somewhere, and when we do we start at the same level. We start out alone and possibly scared. We start by being a shell of a person with no one around us to comfort us. When we do eventually find where we belong, our niche, club, major, anything, we start to feel ourselves, and we reveal the person we may have been hiding.
But, with anything good comes the bad. There are always going to be people who believe they are better. They are going to look down on you and tell you, to your face, how little you mean, or how poor you are at what you’re doing. There will always be bullies.
We’re adults now. We all come to college around 18, and when we graduate, we’re even older and (supposedly) more mature. But why is it no matter where we go in life, someone’s always trying to tear us down? Why can’t we be part of a group that doesn’t feel the need to destroy how one feels?
One of the clubs I joined was freshman year, and when I was 19, it was the best part of my day, the best time of my life. When I got back for sophomore year, people started to treat me differently. Now finishing my junior year, I’ve been getting bullied so many times over it makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t want to be that person who constantly gets made fun of, or is told they aren’t good enough. Yet here I am. I’m told how untalented I am in this club so often that my confidence level has officially left the building. When people actually compliment me, I don’t believe them, and I think I’m a terrible member of the club, even though I know deep down that I am not only a dedicated member but also one of the oldest now and one who has seen the most change. I’ve watched everything become different in this club, and seen people change for what seems like no reason.
But is it right that I have people destroying my self-esteem, even at 21? I never used to think I wasn’t good at what I do in this club because it’s something I’ve done my entire life. But now, I’m afraid to be part of it. I’m scared that people will laugh at me, or pity me and say, “You’re doing great!” when they don’t mean it. I try to be the nicest version of myself, and I try not to let those comments affect me. But they have. They do. They have me convinced I’ll never be anything more in this club than the girl with the loud mouth and the one who “Is an overachiever when it comes to the club.”
Why do people have to tear others down to feel good about themselves? Why can’t we support one another instead of being angry when we don’t get our way? What is it in our DNA that makes us ruthless? If you don’t get what you want at first, try again. There are more chances, there are always more chances. If you don’t get a solo, your writing piece picked, your thesis is rejected, you failed a history paper, or your test theory needs revising, why give up and shit talk? Why not just take a deep breath and remember things change?
If the goal was to make me feel like an adequate member of the club with no discernable traits, then the bullies did it. And at 21, bullies shouldn’t be making me feel like this. Bullies shouldn’t be ruining how you see yourself. But in college, we’re going to find them. The cliques always exist. The mean girls will always play hardball. The group will always find a way to tear you down instead of building you up. College students are at the primary stage in their life where this is who we discover who we are.
Don’t decide you’re a bully and that’s how you’ll get your way in life. You’ll never be happy. And you’ll always regret it.