How To Have Courage When You Are Bullied (3 minute read)

In honour of Pink Shirt Day, I wanted to share 2 true stories of myself standing up to bullies as a kid. Although I've met bullies at all ages, it’s when you’re a kid that you’re the most vulnerable, where the hate hurts the most, and horrible, unnecessary shit happens.

**Click Below To Listen** 

I’m in Grade 4. This is the mid-90s and I’m obsessed with Clueless. (You know, because a short, shy, Chinese girl with a bowl haircut screams Whatever! As If! My Bad!)

One particular day, I was proudly channeling my inner Cher Horowitz. I wanted to wear knee-length socks with a mini-skirt and the only socks I could find were the ones I wore for Girl Guides.

It’s lunchtime and I’m in the girls' bathroom. A Grade 6 girl comes into the bathroom. I’ll call her “Courtney.” I’m sure there are a lot of nice “Courtneys” out there; it’s just a name that came up for me.

“Courtney” stares at me while I’m trying to fix my skirt in the mirror. She stops me as I’m about to leave the bathroom.

She snarls, “Your outfit would have been fine if you weren’t too poor to wear your Girl Guides socks. Can’t you afford some better socks?” She has that bitchy, condescending tone that makes nerds like me shudder in fear.

I'll paint you a picture; this girl is white, with dirty blonde hair and a freckled nose, slim, tall and 2 years older than me. At that time, “Courtney” was someone I wanted validation from.

Instead, I turn to her and glare straight into her eyes, sizing her up and down.

I snarl back, “What do you know about fashion? You’re in Grade 6! You’re only 2 years older than me!”

For a brief moment, her face is in shock. I’m assuming she was caught off guard and didn’t think someone who looked like me would say such a thing.

She then threatens,”You better watch yourself after school!”

On the inside, I'm scared but on the outside, I remain calm. I roll my eyes and scoff at her as I leave the girls bathroom. My heart pounds nervously but I'm also exhilarated.

The next time I see her, she ignores me.

I don't know what happened to her but she gave me the first taste of what bullying feels like. Girls like Courtney exist everywhere. I think given high insecurity, low self-esteem and lack of confidence, anyone (myself included) can become a "Courtney."

I’m in Grade 5 and it’s winter time. My group of friends and I are taking turns sliding down a large pile of snow on the soccer field during lunchtime.

A Grade 4 boy comes up to us and tells us that it’s his pile of snow and to go away. He’s one of those troubled kids that no one wants to mess with. I'll call him "Jeff." 

My friends start walking away. I don’t move.

I tell him firmly, “No, we were here first and it’s our snow.”

"Jeff" walks towards me, leans in close and says, "What are you gonna do about it?"

I stare him down, eye to eye.

Before I know it, his right fist slams into my left eye as I stand there, defending my pile of snow, dumbfounded, seeing stars.

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My friends yell for a teacher's aide. Everyone on the field surrounds us. I'm in shock. Things move in slow motion as my face starts to sting and tears begin to roll.

I'm handed a small bag of ice and "Jeff" is taken away.

When the bell rings, my friends and I start walking back to class. "Jeff" comes up to me and grunts 

I go home that night and I don't even remember what I told my parents (like all the other things that I don't share with them). I think I just said a boy hit me but I'm okay. The black eye went away as quickly as I forgot about it...until one day.

It's the mid-2010's; I see "Jeff'" (now a man in his late 20s) in the local news. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He and his friend were hanging out in the park when they were attacked. He was trying to protect his friend when the attacker stabbed him. He died shortly after, 
standing up for what is right.

What are the morals of these stories? I think the first one is obvious:

We have to stand up for what is right.

"But I think the bigger lesson is for all of us to treat each other with kindness, to be cognizant of the actions and words we use towards others (and ourselves), and most importantly, to offer support to bullies rather than lay blame." 
If we always label bullies as the "villains", the opportunity for them to change doesn't exist. They are put in a box and that's where they stay. 

As a mom, I know I cannot control what happens in the schoolyard. I cannot control who my daughter will encounter. However, I can act as her role model, showing her how to treat people with respect. I can share my stories so she understands why I feel so strongly about bullying and hopefully, she will share hers in return (unlike how I was with my parents).

AND...I might just put her in martial know, for her to fulfill my failed dreams of becoming a Kung Fu Sifu.

So Readers, have you ever experienced bullying? Have you ever been a bully? What are your experiences?

Let's Socialize...C'mon, You Know You Wanna



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