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Learning about bullying in elementary school was when I was first introduced to the term ‘bystander.’ However, as I’ve grown up, I have been viewing the act of being a bystander in a very different light. 


Recently, I have found myself becoming a bystander. Over the past few years of my college experience, I have found myself becoming very complacent. Maybe this is due to heightened anxiety, lack of motivation, low self- confidence, and overall distrust of the system in which I am currently living in. 


However, I have grown disappointed in myself, and I want to improve. In order to do this, I need to stop being a bystander to the world around me. These are some things I can do — and we all can do — to help take control of the various situations we face everyday. 


Ideally, I need to be more informed about what has been happening in the past year. When faced with such high-stress scenarios, I have continued to be a bystander. 


During the past year, many social issues have come to light. Most importantly, this summer, we saw a beautiful display of activism with the peaceful protests following George Floyd’s death. Following this tragedy, I made the decision to become more informed on how to become actively anti-racist. 


I decided to do research to form my own opinions, listen to POC’s stories and empathize, and donate to credible charities that support those who were impacted by the injustices or harmed in the protests due to police violence. 


Additionally, this past year birthed COVID-19. With this, many social orders have been put into place such as social distancing, mask wearing, and being more aware of one’s health. With this, it has really shown everyone’s true colors — mine included. 


I have not been as active in social distancing as I should be, and as a current health policy major, that is embarrassing for me. Many health care practitioners and hospitals have struggled during these times, due to mine and others’ negligence. This is unacceptable. Currently, I am learning safer health practices and am more aware of the real-life repercussions that my actions have produced and will continue to produce. 


Another situation I have experienced is that I have become a bystander in my own personal life. My anxiety has made me feel at a standstill, with my most crucial years passing me by very quickly. 


Personally, I need to take control and begin rebuilding my confidence. This is a difficult journey, and I don’t expect to have a full turnaround, but I need to start making strides towards my health, my schoolwork, and how I present myself to others. 


Hopefully, putting more focus on the importance of every single day can help me become more of an active participant in my life, rather than a victim of circumstance. 


This is how I am focusing on improving myself. Being a bystander definitely is not a good thing, but it is something that every person has embodied at one point or another. Focusing on when you feel helpless and looking to gain control over your actions can make all the difference in the world.

Health Policy and Administration student at Pennsylvania State University.
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