Aija Mayrock: The Student Author Determined To Put An End To Bullying

The Deets:

Name: Aija Mayrock

School: NYU Gallatin

Hometown: New York and California

Something No One Knows About You: I’m a HUGE adrenaline junkie.

1. You've told everyone about what prompted you to start writing the book, The Survival Guide To Bullying. However, can you tell us the specific personal experiences that really triggered your interest to write this book to help everyone out there who has been bullied?

"Obviously, I had been really badly bullied for years. I was bullied in school and online. I was told to kill myself and that I was fat and ugly day in and day out. When I was 15, a girl I had never met dressed up as me for Halloween. It was my most difficult moment. But it was also the moment where I decided I had to do something about it. When I was 16, I saw a news story about a boy that committed suicide. It broke my heart. I decided that if I sat back and did nothing - then I was just as bad as the people who bullied me. I knew what it took to survive, yet I wasn’t helping anyone. So I thought to myself, “How can I reach millions of kids?” And that’s when I came up with the idea of the book. That night, I put pen to paper, and began writing The Survival Guide to Bullying.

2. Why do you feel that bullying is such an eminent topic in high schools? Is it because of the Mean Girls social hierachy we are taught through media?

"I think that bullying has existed for hundreds of years. But it has gotten a lot worse because of social media. It used to be that you were bullied at school, but you were safe at home. That isn’t the truth anymore. Bullying is now 24/7 and a lot of times - anonymous. So it feels like the world is against you. I believe that most bullies are bullying from insecurity or a desperate need to be liked. The mean girls social hierarchy definitely doesn’t help. There is a combination of problems. But some of these problems can be solved. Whenever I speak to educators or government officials - I strongly emphasize the importance of having a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for bullying within schools - as soon as the kids are enrolled."

3. In terms of the rise of bullying today, do you feel we will ever get past it? How can we get past it?

"As I said before, I think that bullying has always existed. I don’t know that I believe that we will ever get rid of it completely. However, we can get rid of A LOT of bullying. Teachers need to be trained to identify bullying and equipped with the proper tools to stop it, without making it worse for the kids that are being bullied. Schools need to enforce zero tolerance policies at a young age. Bystanders need to be encouraged and rewarded for standing up. And most importantly, adults need to trust kids. When they say they are being bullied, THEY ARE. Don’t doubt them. They’re extremely brave to tell you. I was never that brave."

4. Throughout your publishing journey and bullying experiences, who has helped you persevere through it the most? What kind of impact did they make?

My parents are the most supportive, incredible people. They always helped me believe in myself. I’m a very impatient person, but they have continuously taught me how to be patient and how to believe in myself.

However, at the end of the day, I think YOU have to believe in yourself more than anyone believes in you. I always say that (and I wrote this in my book): “You have to decide you are going to stand up way before you get knocked down.” Since I was 8 years old, I always promised myself that I would achieve my dreams. I made a pact with myself that I would never ever let anyone stop me from reaching my potential. Of course I have moments of doubt, but I persevere.

5. In many interviews, you've said that there were a lot of people who at first didn’t believe your book would be successful. Was there a reason for it and how did you get around it? 

I think that anything that is different is judged. When you move outside of the ordinary, people are afraid. I always believed in this book. For 4 years, I never wavered from my vision. When you feel that level of belief in something, then it will work. I also did my research. I knew nothing like this book existed in the marketplace. I read the TOP 40 books on bullying and saw nothing similar to my book. I spoke to kids going through bullying and they all seemed to gravitate towards the book, design, poems - everything.  People feel you need connections to get a book to a publisher and publish it. However, I trusted myself to seek out the non-traditional publishing world first: the e-book. All I knew was that I wanted this book out there to help kids through bullying. I never expected the wave of positive responses from publishers, kids and adults to come through right away.

So, once again, I believed in myself and my work. I realized that if someone said “NO” to my book - then I was just speaking to the wrong person. Scholastic is the perfect home for this type of book. It’s a dream that I get to work with them.

6. What advice would you give to all the novelists, artists, actresses out there who are too afraid to risk showing their talent to the world or afraid of rejection? 

You can’t be afraid of rejection. Rejection happens to every artist. I think that rejection makes you better. Rejection has made me stronger, more determined, less afraid, and more hungry. 

Not everyone will like your work. But it’s not really personal. We all have our opinions and we are entitled to that. I look at my book as something that is constantly changing. It’s published in print so obviously the words don’t move. But everyone who reads it - who adds a perspective (good or bad) - changes the book. Every piece of art is ever changing. So distance yourself and allow it to change. If it doesn’t change, no one is paying attention to it.

7. What are your future plans? Any new sequels to the Survival Guide to Bullying in the works? Or perhaps any acting roles?

I want to be a writer, actress, and activist! Currently, I have a lot of VERY exciting things coming up. If you follow me on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter: @AijaMayrock - I will be sharing that good news soon! I am writing something new right now too! I also write for Teen Vogue and have just recently started a blog with Huffington Post! In terms or performance, I’ll be doing something exciting during the half time of the upcoming New York Mets game!

 

Purchase Aija's book, The Survival Guide to Bullying here.