I was bullied throughout my entire time at school. But what I experienced in primary school didn’t prepare me for the malicious, cruel treatment I experienced in high school. For some reason, three people selected me as their target. They threw rocks at me, followed me home, egged my house, prank called me, tormented me at school daily. They even made a club called ‘KTF’ or ‘Kill the Frizz’ (on account of my curly, frizzy hair) and wrote this phrase everywhere, inviting other people to join in on the fun. Perhaps their finest act was the creation of a voodoo doll of me. It’s hard to believe that children can be so cruel.
Whilst it would be easy for me to detail the trauma and psychological damage this behaviour caused, this wouldn’t teach you anything meaningful. Everyone knows that bullying leaves long terms scars. What many don’t realise is that surviving bullying can also be an exceptionally empowering experience. It was only through being bullied that I learned how strong and principled I was. I learned to stand up for myself and developed a resilience many struggle to comprehend. I have very thick skin and I am difficult to offend. I also know that I can survive anything. Their horrible treatment taught me to stand up for myself like nothing else ever could.
I’ll never know why they chose me but I developed confidence in myself coming up with reasons why. I told myself they were jealous of my intelligence, so I did better in school to spite them. I told myself they were jealous of my talents, my friends, my sporting skill. I always placed myself as superior to them because in my mind I was a much better person than them because I didn’t stoop to the level of their cruelty. I developed a warped sense of self-belief from my tenacious desire to always be above them. I developed my self and my values in opposition to my bullies. And as a result, I became a compassionate, principled, strong person who would stand up for themselves and others no matter what.
I never once let myself believe I was a victim. So I rose above. I took all of the negative energy they gave me and turned it into positivity and creativity. It wasn’t easy but it was how I survived. For many years I did not recognise the negative impact bullying had on my life because I had refused to let my bullies define me. In fact, it may sound odd but I didn’t know how adversely bullying had affected my life until I started seeing a therapist as an adult. I remember the distinct moment he asked about my high school years, just trying to get to know me, and I burst into tears. I had sworn my whole life that I would never let them win, never let them see me sweat, and yet here I was years later, crying my soul out. Up until this moment, I never once let myself think of myself as a victim. And whilst this wasn’t exactly the most healthy response (I never got a chance to feel the hurt) it made me appreciate all of the good things I learned from being bullied. It stopped me focusing on what they took from me and made me see all they had given me.
And despite me now having to work through the damage from all those years ago, I still think that my bullies did me more good than harm. So thank you to the members of KTF, wherever you are, for playing a huge role in making me who I am. I’ll always be grateful.