Whenever I hear about people harming themselves or others because they don’t know how to deal with bullying anymore, it makes me incredibly sad because I know how they feel. One of the worst things that can happen to you in life is when people constantly try to make you feel miserable for being the person that you are. It hurts, it brings you down, it makes you question your whole existence.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been an outsider. For some people this may come as a surprise, depending on where they know me from, because I am a very outspoken, open-minded and self-confident person who has no problem with standing up for herself or others and can also be social and very friendly. My life has been pretty different from most people I know and although it has been good for developing into the person that I am today, it didn’t make my life any easier. While growing up, my family and I moved around a few times, which made it difficult to make life-long friendships and included a lot of assimilation to different surroundings. I was born in Germany but we also lived in America twice, so I had to adjust and re-adjust a lot, make new friends, even learn a new language and I just grew up a lot differently from most people I know. In my American day care, I was a girl from Germany, in my German school, located in America, I was among people who went through the same thing but I still wasn’t really voted most liked by everyone and when I went back to Germany, I was the girl from America. These roles, I was able to live with, what came afterward only became worse.
There is probably nothing I haven’t heard about me throughout my teenage years and beyond. Everyone talked behind my back and spread all kinds of ridiculous rumors, even though I never done anything to anyone. It started when I was 12, when I still had my natural hair color and loved playing with Barbie. Since then, people at school tried to make my life as miserable as possible and what can I tell you, it hurt. It still does today because I never gave anyone an actual reason to hate me. I was just a girl with a few friends, obsessed with boys and the Spice Girls and not really an in-your-face kind of person.
Early on, I had to make a decision that would have a huge effect on the rest of my life. When something like this happens, you actually have a choice. It’s not an easy one to make but trust me, there is a choice. You can either let other people dictate and ruin your life or you don’t give them that and live the life that you want. Let me tell you one thing, people hate nothing more than trying their hardest to break you but not succeeding. It was never easy to do but it made me the bigger and better person. I would’ve rather cut my arm off than show weakness. I cried at home where nobody could see me. I pretended not to care about all the cruel things people said but didn’t laugh in pictures until I was 18 because they thought it was funny to call me things like horse mouth. I had guys not want to be with me because even though they liked me as a person, they couldn’t admit it to others, since that would reflect poorly on them and destroy their reputation. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how much that hurt. Puberty is hard enough already so who needs something heartbreaking like that?
People always thought that I was stupid and are still questioning how I ever finished my A-levels, let alone get a Master’s degree. I probably slept my way through college. When I joined the school band, I had random people calling and telling me to quit because I couldn’t sing. Haters always try to go against something that you love. And of course whenever someone sang the wrong note, it was always me. I had huge problems singing in front of people for a long time because I let it get to me. I didn’t quit though and entered every stage that people asked me to enter. Giving up something that I love for a bunch of idiots just wasn’t my thing.
So as I was growing up, I was bullied because I loved wearing short skirts and make-up and I dared to dye my hair platinum blond. I was bullied for being too tall, for not being pretty enough, for my teeth, my hobbies, my talents, my upbringing, my taste in music, my favorite color and so many other superficial things. The point is though, none of this made me a bad person, or a slut, a bitch or whatever negative word comes to your mind. Not my love for pink or electronic music or my lower back tattoo, all of wich I have been judged and criticized for. The irony is that many of these people ended up doing and liking lots of things they used to hate me for. Go figure. If you don’t like the person I am that is absolutely fine because I don’t expect everyone to like me. But at least give me a chance before you make an idiotic character judgement based on my favorite color.
During the last years of school, I was even bullied for being arrogant but after all those years of constant hate, it was the wall I built up for myself. It was the only way to protect me because imagine what would have happened if I let all those bad things get to me. And yes, I thought I was a better person than all of those terrible people and I still do so, today. If that makes me arrogant, so be it.
I’m pretty sure that most of the bullying happened because of jealousy. I know that it makes people roll their eyes when you say that people say and do things because they’re jealous – it seems conceited – but it is what it is. I don’t think the jealousy was based on my looks or clothes, talents, style etc. I’m sure they were simply jealous of the fact that I didn’t seem to care. With all the shit they threw at me, they wanted to see me crack . They wanted to hurt me and make me cave in, but I never did and never will. They were jealous of me being strong enough to always be myself, no matter what, cause lots of people are just too scared to do exactly that. The sad thing is, more than 15 years later, those pathetic people haven’t changed one bit but I guess it’s just a beloved small-town sport, although it can happen anywhere.
In the past, I’ve actually asked people why they thought so negatively of me and it was always the same answer “because everyone does.” Isn’t that nice?! Peer pressure is a terrible thing. It’s dangerous and I feel sorry for everyone who give in to it, just to live an easy life. If you don’t have the balls to be an individual and to form your own opinion, I feel very sorry for you because individuality is what makes you, you. It may be difficult when you’re young but trust me when I tell you that you’ll feel so much better about yourself when you’re older.
I never understood why the popular girls were so loved by everyone, anyway. Until today, I find these ladies extremely dull, especially cause they are all suck-ups who always try their absolute hardest for everyone to like them. I’d rather be hated. The decision I made was to always be myself, no matter what other people say. To me, it was much more important to be able to look into a mirror than to be just one of many. The thought of being just like everybody else always bored me so I had to choose the hard way. I guess all the hate ultimately made me stronger and despite everything I had to endure, I developed self-confidence for ten people, something people also hate me for.
I was an outsider in all schools, at university and even as an au pair because my main goal never was just to try an fit in and be friends with everyone. I always preferred to surround myself with a few good and loyal friends, who love me for me and don’t care what others thought, instead of huge crowds of random people who would bail if things get rough.
People who have known me for a long time still tell me that they could’ve never done it. Some of my friends actually told me that I was the strongest person they knew, just because I always had the guts to be completely myself. My mother is still grateful that I was strong enough to live my life without harming myself because of everything people have done or said. It makes me proud and sad, all at once because people shouldn’t have to go through anything like this. Years of constant harassment, rumors, slut-shaming and rejection are not easy to deal with but I did.
I honestly feel terrible for kids today because the world wide web makes the bullying even worse, since people can actually hide behind a screen to act like monsters. If social media had been a thing back in the days, I’m pretty sure that my life would have been even worse because people just really get a kick out of cyber bullying. Just so you know, you are cowards and I feel bad for you.
For everyone going through bullying in any way, I know how you feel. It is terrible and unfair and nobody should be put through anything like this. But you are better than that and you can get through it. It’s not easy, it will hurt but you can do it. Try to surround yourself with a few positive people, find some hobbies that make you happy and just try to stay strong, as hard as you can. And if you ever feel like you can’t handle it anymore, please get help. Your life and sanity is what matters most and don’t let ignorant and awful people destroy any of it.
You don’t have to love every single person around you but at least give them a chance, no matter how they look or where they come from. Making others feel bad doesn’t make you a better person and acceptance of differences is the one thing this world desperately needs