Overcoming Bullying: One Teen’s Story of Bullying and Survival

I believe being comfortable with myself will make me happy regardless of my situation.

This belief could come from the fact that I was bullied during the fifth and sixth grade. I had been friends with a girl for maybe two or three years, but then I decided to hang out with my other friend more than her. She felt betrayed, but I didn’t really notice what I was doing to her and she never brought it up. Then the bullying started. I figured that eventually she’d get over it or she’d get tired and stop. But she didn’t.

My former friend would pull my hair, punch me, and kick me…she even stabbed me with a pen once and broke my skin. I think my other friends tried to intervene as much as they could without getting anyone in trouble. It just wasn’t enough. I try to analyze why I never said anything and I guess it’s because I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble either. Even though she clearly was not acting like a friend anymore, I still felt loyalty to her from our past history. I also thought that if I didn’t acknowledge the situation, then it wouldn’t actually be real. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. The situation got to a point where it was really unsafe. I don’t know what would have happened if my mom hadn’t finally found out.

I guess she had noticed these marks on my body, but I’ve always kind of been prone to bruising so she didn’t think anything of them. Then one day she was walking me to school – which she rarely did – and she saw my friend pull my hair. She forced me to tell her about the bullying, and I broke down crying. She told me to talk to my teacher – which I did – and then the principal got involved too.

It was really awkward for me because we were a small class of about 30 and my former friend and I ran in the same clique of only five girls. I was nervous about what would happen to the friends I did like. Would they get angry at me for snitching on someone or would they stand by me? Surprisingly, the whole clique continued to hang out even though it was really awkward. My former friend and I just avoided each other completely. I’m not sure how we did that considering our group was so small…I guess that’s what made it so awkward.

On the positive side, I finished that year with a better sense of who I was. I learned from the experience.  I’m not going to ever let it happen to me – or anyone else – again. I swore that to myself. Since I was able to beat my problem and grow from it, now I know that I can handle anything.

How to Rebuild Your Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is basically how we see ourselves in relation to others. It’s not fixed, which means it’s changeable. We all have good days and bad days, but every day is a new opportunity for changing or repairing our self-esteem. To treat ourselves right.  Here are just 5 quick tips that will help repair your self-esteem.

1. Have a positive outlook

Wake up telling yourself all the good things in your life before getting out of bed. Literally….  Don’t allow negative thoughts in as you lay there, push them out.  If it helps, say all the good things out-loud, then get out of the bed.  Every day it will get easier and easier and you will feel yourself waking up with more things to share and a more positive attitude. Acknowledge and stop the negative thoughts about yourself before the day gets started.

2. Challenge yourself once a week 

I don’t care if it’s trying a new activity, cooking a foreign meal or going somewhere you have never  been.  This helps us stretch our world and opens up our mind to more possibilities and opportunities. This type of action builds upon itself and you will find your challenges getting more and more bold or daring.  Ultimately, your self pride will grow.

3. Do something scary

I don’t mean walk down any dark allies at nigh, but I do mean take a risk!  Try zip lining….. say hi to a boy you have never talked to of run for class officer. You will be surprised by how amazing it feels after you have accomplished the action. You will experience a natural high similar to the one runners experience.  It’s a great uplifting feeling and it’s addictive.  You’ll be looking for the next big challenge.

4. Share your thoughts/feelings with your parents or close friends

Yes, this can also constitute as something scary, but this time it’s verbal action not physical action. A lot of teens don’t tell others about their worries or serious concerns.  They don’t think parents want to hear it and/or they don’t trust their friends with truly personal matters.  Take a chance…… share your feelings.  You will be surprised by how the information is received by your family and friends. It will bring you closer and you will feel a sense of relief for getting something off your chest, not to mention your level of trust in others will increase.

5. Stop engaging in negative activities that bring you down

Don’t hang around with people who put you down or don’t treat you right. They have no room in your life.  Stop mistreating your body with poor sleep, processed foods and no physical exercise. These things do affect your mood which in turn, affects your self-esteem whether you realize it or not. If you don’t think that you are worth it, no one else will either.

 

How Teens Define Self-Esteem

I love to ask teen girls to define self-esteem. Some of them give very poignant definitions of self-esteem. They mention how they feels about themselves and how others view them as well. They use words such as self-image, self-love, respect, confidence and dignity. Others talk about self-esteem in relation to what it is not. As in, it’s not putting yourself down, telling yourself that you are fat, doing what others tell you, and it’s not letting people walk all over you. Some of the girls are more comfortable giving examples of how they see self-esteem in their life instead of giving me a definition. Some tell me stories related to positive self-esteem. I hear stories of doing well on a test, having a boy like them, or scoring a goal during a sporting event. While others relay stories about negative self-esteem. These stories usually start with the phrase “let me tell you about the worst day of my life” and usually end with somebody fighting, crying, lying to a parent, throwing up/passing out at a party and/or all of the above. A few have told me how their self-esteem depends upon the situation they are in and therefore couldn’t give me one concrete definition. A chameleon approach. As in, with their academics they feel more confident, but when it comes to fitting in with their peers they feel less comfortable and have lower self-esteem. And lastly, some girls simply used free association to define self-esteem and say words like: body image, maturity, respect, confidence, and liking yourself. What I find so surprising is that they can articulate that the core concept of self-esteem comes from within, yet when trying to build that self-esteem, they look externally. To friends, to trends and most likely to boys. Obviously, some of these answers vary depending upon the girl’s age, life experiences and ability to articulate self-esteem. However, by and large they seek outside themselves for validation of self-esteem. We need to challenge their thinking and offer them ways of approaching self-esteem internally. To focus inward and give useful feedback, tools and techniques that can help build their self-esteem today, tomorrow and the next no matter what life throws their way.