There is still a ton I haven’t shared about myself; my experiences growing up and how I dealt with each uncomfortable situation related to my scars. And I can’t say I am eager to share as they are not by any means “proud” nor “happy” moments of my life. But I keep finding courage and inspiration to do so in hopes to provide some support to those going through similar challenges in today’s world. Growing up I did not have social media to do daily comparisons of myself to others. But I had other downers that were equally detrimental to my mental health and confidence. While we are our worst critic, many of us have experienced bullying first hand.
Bullying can be verbal, social, physical and now, believe it or not, because of social media there is cyberbullying.
According to www.dosomething.org, over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year. Approximately 160 thousand of teens skip school every day because of bullying. 1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% of the time. The list goes on.
I have experienced verbal and social bullying since I was a child. And I am sure a lot of you have too. I have been heavily teased with “Zirafa”, it means Giraffe, because of my height and my skinny figure growing up. I have also been called “Fosna”, it means Flat Board, and to make it worse, I have been called “Izgorita Fosna”, Burned Board, or sometimes just “Izgorita”, Burned. This is just to name a few “light ones” from my childhood. Once my family and I moved to the States, where I was given a name “foreigner” by default, it was even harder to coupe with bullying and pointing.
To really understand bullying it takes time and real self-discovery. People bully because one or more areas of their life isn’t satisfying or it has fallen apart, thus creating low self-esteem, experiencing loneliness, and expressing anger and boosted ego by targeting others. All that is stemmed from deep and strong lack of self-love. As a child or a teen, these things are hard to comprehend especially if you don’t have dedicated support or understanding at home. There is also a generation gap to consider, while our parents experienced bullying it was not on a scale that my generation has experienced it; and now I think millennials have it worst. That’s not to call out any bad parenting, but the times were just different. I love this saying: We don’t know what we don’t know.
One thing we have today that past generations did not is the accessibility of things to learn on our own. All you need is little bit of curiosity and will power to invest in yourself. This will give you bit more tools to put some of those traumatic events to rest. Especially with internet taking over the world - Seek! Discover you! We can’t change how we were treated but we can change how we raise our children and the kind of support we provide to them. Accept, learn, apply and teach is what each of us needs to do so we can prevent bullying and promote love and acceptance. If we made that into our everyday responsibility, this world would be a much different place. Lower that judgement on a much smaller scale, please. You are not better than me. Our journeys are just different. And if you can’t accept me as me, keep on walking; even after coming from a war-torn country, I still believe there is room for everyone on this planet.
How did I overcome bullying? How did I learn to love that “Giraffe” and “Burned Board”? It required two things: will and dedication. Make yourself a “one woman/man army”! As weird as this sounds, I listened to my anxiety. Simply put - things that make you anxious are the things you need to work on. A lot of people have it backwards, if something makes them choke, shake and gives them accelerated heart rate, they make it a taboo subject and shove it under the rug. And will make so much effort NOT to bring it up again. Stop asking yourself “Why me?” and Start asking and becoming curious why you feel like the entire world is out to get you? I would get shortness of breath and start freaking out internally every time my scar would become visible to someone (especially the one on my leg). Imagine becoming free of that fear? You can and you will. It is within you, once you start asking yourself the right questions.
Having flaws is not a weakness, it is an opportunity to grow and be better. Strength is also recognizing your flaws. While I really think and believe this. I am not always so accepting of this in others. Which is yet, another flaw of mine. And I think the most challenging one, because each one of us grows and learns at a different time and pace. It takes extra effort in building that patience and expanding your mind. If you're someone who is being bullied and you are able to recognize it, speak up! If you can't say something to them directly, talk to others. Nobody deserves to be bullied. And those bullies deserve to be told to seek help.