Today’s post will be a little different for me. It’s about something more serious than I usually write about: bullying.
You know that little saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” My younger self would tell you that’s BS.
After seeing this post on Buzzfeed a few days ago, it brought back memories, some painful and some laughable, of things people have said to me in the past. Some things didn’t really get to me, but others haunted me for years. You see, I was bullied verbally a lot in elementary and middle school and a bit in high school, and while some came from random classmates, a good portion also came from my “friends.”
I wasn’t bullied as much or as bad as some other kids are, and I was never physically assaulted or anything, but words were more than enough to really hurt me. Some insults included the fact that I was lazy because I could never run as fast as other kids, I weighed more than them, I had acne all over my face, I got my period earlier than nearly everyone else in my class, etc. Kids had plenty of “reasons”to make fun of me, and they did.
For the most part, I was called fat and ugly, more than I’d like to admit, by both strangers and “friends.” Unfortunately it’s common for people to be called those words, which I know doesn’t make it okay, and it was very painful for me. Some of my “friends” in middle school would make fun of me, occasionally right in front of me, and I just stood there and took it. They knew I wouldn’t stand up to them, and they were right. I was a total pushover.
Sometimes they were nice to me, especially if we were just one on one, so I was willing to overlook the teasing because I knew they’d be nice to me again soon. At a time when all you want to do is fit in, you’re willing to put up with a lot for a few happy moments. But we shouldn’t have to.
As a result of the constant teasing, I hated my body: how “mature” I was starting to look at such a young age, how acne was starting to cover my face, etc. It’s hard enough trying to be confident in who you are, at any age, without others making fun of you all the time.
The teasing eventually subsided, and my “friends” and I all parted ways in high school. I made new real friends, none of whom ever teased me about my looks. I found my passion by getting involved with the student newspaper, and the rest is history. I still got self-conscious quite a bit (I mean, I was a teenager after all), but once I really found my people, my group, my passions, everything started to line up in other parts of my life, too.
I hated myself and my body for years, and as a result, my self-confidence was very low for most of my life, up until recently. I’m finally working on building it up now that I’m an “adult,” but it’s kind of amazing and also sad how teasing from 10 years ago or more can stick with you even if you don’t realize it or think it does.
Looking back now, I can see how happy and beautiful I was, but back then, it was really hard to notice that. All I used to see were pimples, oily skin, fat and some questionable fashion choices. Now I like the photos I used to hate because I can see more than just the things I didn’t like about myself. Instead of focusing on the physical flaws, I remember my friends, family members and our great memories, and even though I grew up fast, I remember all the fun I had along the way.
I’m sharing this not because I want you to feel bad or feel sorry for me. I’m sharing this just in case there’s someone out there who has felt or is feeling what I used to (and still occasionally do). I want to give you a hug and tell you something:
We are more than our pasts, and we are more than what other people say about us.
Whether I realized it at the time or not, I think all of this is at least part of why I started this beauty blog in the first place. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally started to realize that we are more than the words others use to describe us (positive or not). It’s taken me a long time to realize this, and now I find it very empowering to stand up for myself and my body.
Like the tagline of my blog says, I want to bring you lessons on being happy, healthy and beautiful. And this is how my journey of truly feeling happy, healthy and beautiful began.
I may not be 100 percent happy with how I look sometimes, but I’m much more self-confident now than I was even five years ago. I’m still a work in progress, just like anyone else.
I guess in some weird way I want to say thank you to the people who teased/bullied me when I was younger. Without you, I probably wouldn’t be as strong, loving and adamant about helping others know their self-worth as I am now.
It all comes down to a choice: we need to decide that we are more than just adjectives. So how would I modify that little old saying?
Sticks and stones may break my bones, and I’ve decided that your words can never hurt me.