This month’s speaker talks about overcoming negativity to become a happier, more positive person. It was, by no means, an easy path to take. Obstacles had to be overcome, society defied, and insecurities conquered. I suggest that you don’t try to guess who this speaker is, don’t give into judgement, just read.
Being confident is hard. I used to get called many names because I was bigger than most of the students in my grade. They called me “buffalo” and “rat.” They called me other swear words which I don’t want to repeat.
There was this period of time where I tried to hurt myself a lot because I just wanted everything to stop. And then I would get teased for that too. I don’t know if they knew how I felt but they just kept teasing me and teasing me and teasing me and I was so stressed about everything. I would cry myself to sleep every night and when my mum came knocking on the door, I wouldn’t answer. That would stress her out. And I knew it stressed her out but I didn’t care. I tried to hurt myself because I wanted the pain to stop. Because my group of friends, they were the popular kids and at school, the popular kids have all the power. One word from them had more impact than any number of paragraphs I wrote or spoke. They could control the whole class and they turned my class against me. It feels like everything is against you, the pressure, the stress—everything. And I just wanted it to end, to stop.
When they called me names, I didn’t eat until I lost a dramatic amount of weight. Usually, when I exercise, I lose at least a kilo a month. But I lost five kilos in one week. Because I wasn’t eating anything at all, I fainted a lot of times. So many times that my mum had to bring me to the hospital. Other times, I would punch, punch, punch myself, hit myself or sometimes even cut myself. Then one time, I tried to strangle myself but it was too much. I just felt that was something I couldn’t make myself do. So I didn’t do it. I tried not to hurt myself but everything was too much, too overwhelming and unbearable.
So why was I friends with them? I guess we had been very close from a young age. As time went by, more and more people kept being added to the group. In the eighth grade, I started to feel really uncomfortable but I didn’t tell anyone because I was scared of what they would do to me. I knew what they could do. Another person had left the group and they bullied the student for it. I didn’t want to speak out to anyone. I didn’t want to be bullied. I ignored that uncomfortable feeling and I lost myself within the group again but the feeling never stopped. My friends gravitated towards people who were thin and skinny. They didn’t like me because I was fat. I didn’t care at first because education comes first and then appearance but they kept bashing me and my appearance. My grades started to drop. They called me the “villain” and they were the “heroes” of the story. It made me feel so betrayed because I felt when I was with them, I had to sacrifice so many things just to make them happy and they wouldn’t even do something as simple as text back. I had nowhere to go, no friends to turn to.
I visited the principal’s office once a week because of those rumours which were going around. I felt that at that point, the counsellor couldn’t do much so might as well report it to the principal. So I went every week to the principal’s office and he told me, “Why don’t you surround yourself with positive people? Why don’t you write something you’re happy or proud of?” Finally, I left the group. I followed his advice and I found myself in a better situation.
I joined a debating and writing club where I met wonderful people outside of KIS. All this time, I had been stuck in the KIS community without realising that there were so many better people outside. The people I met inspired me to stay true to myself and to have hope that not everyone is mean. My mum also let me go to summer camp. I remember at this one summer camp, we were being taught about mindfulness. The counsellor asked us, “If you had $86400 to spend, would you waste it?” My answer was, obviously, no. Here’s the thing, in one day, there are 86400 seconds. That really stayed with me because we shouldn’t waste any seconds of the day. We also had this session to talk about ourselves and who we are. We essentially connected there. I shared my story and I felt it wasn’t as bad as other people’s stories. I realised that I should be happy I have all these privileges. I’m not the worst one.
When I came back, I told myself, “Okay, I love myself, I don’t need to care about those people, the ones who hurt me, anymore.” I decided that the only people I would care about were the people who cared about me. I thought about how I could improve myself so that other people could look up to me, rather than me looking up to other people. I let my old, toxic friends go. And now, I had one less thing to worry about, one less problem to care about. I’ve made new friends now. And whenever my old friend group tries to bully me, I ignore them. Screw them. Let them go about with their own problems. I’m not carrying that burden anymore.
They said all this stuff about me. They said I couldn’t lose weight. I went from 66kg to 52kg. They said I couldn’t do any sports because I was so big. I joined a sports team. They said I could never get good grades. My grades have increased from 3s to 6s. They said I would never be happy. Guess what? I’m pretty happy right now.
So for all of you going through the same thing, ignore them. Do what you want to do and when they try to get to you, speak up. Remember that it’s not your fault you’re being bullied; it’s not your fault they are acting so harsh towards you. They are the ones who need to change.
I asked the speaker: if you were given the choice to go back in time and stop this bullying from happening, would you do so?
This was the speaker’s reply:
No. No, because if all those things hadn’t happened to me, I’d still be surrounding myself with that negative group and I would never have learnt what I know now about being positive and finding the right group of friends.