So many targets today can easily relate to my story. With that said, I want to tell you that if you are or have been a target of school bullies, you are not alone and, with a little inner work, you will eventually overcome your tormentors just like I did.
I was one of those targets who rebelled against the bullies and fought back. To keep my self-esteem from completely tanking, I dressed my absolute best, but still it was not good enough for me. I wanted to dress like a million bucks for school. Clothes from Walmart weren’t good enough. I had to go to the mall, Cato, Tempo, Maurice’s, or Hollywood’s before I was satisfied. I wasn’t happy unless I was dressed to the nines at school.
I felt I had to be well dressed because I was still quite a bit insecure inside. I didn’t feel like I was worth anything unless I was dressed to impress. One of the thoughts which consumed me all during high school was how to dress like a fashionista.
It had a lot to do with how poorly I was being treated and I continued to believe that the better I dressed, the better I would be treated although, the exact opposite would occur. It seemed that my attire was arousing even further hatred and contempt.
Nevertheless, I absolutely had to be dressed in the hottest fashions or I just didn’t feel adequate. The more they put me down, the more I would dress up. I felt that my attire provided me with not only a sense of style but also control.
Some mornings, I’d dress up, look at myself in the mirror and think,
“So they think I am trash? They must be blind. Does this look like trash? I think not! I know I’m hot and they are not going to convince me otherwise!”
Does this sound arrogant? Conceited? Maybe. Does this sound downright narcissistic? Perhaps. Was it the right attitude to have? Both yes and no. My defense was to act conceited, like I didn’t need any of them.
This holier-than-thou attitude, however unattractive it might have been, helped me preserve what little self-esteem and dignity I had. It helped me to keep going when things were at their worst. It helped me to keep from being totally brainwashed and reprogrammed by my evil classmates, unlike a good majority of other bullied targets, who, sadly, weren’t that fortunate!
I walked around with my nose in the air and refused to speak to any of them. I had a sassy and smart alicky attitude. I was extremely sarcastic and had a snotty disposition. I even laughed at and bullied others to grab back some power. My attitude stunk – period.
Sure. This attitude could’ve easily gotten me hurt or worse had my bullies known for certain about it. A lot of those girls carried knives, especially those who were from families of criminals and ex-cons, families who were dirt poor or just plain loco. Sadly, that was over half of the student body.
I have no doubt that they would not have thought twice about whipping a blade out and slicing my face with it if they could have gotten me in the right place and I would have had to wear it for life.
However, this arrogance I often displayed was the only way I knew to stay strong and to maintain a little bit of power. I was only a teenager and had not yet fully developed the concrete thinking skills nor the processing ability to handle my situation more objectively. Back then, I was a slave to my emotions and I let them guide me in how I handled people and situations.
Also, I was under a tremendous amount of stress and had been for the last three years. And when anyone, even the most logical and rational person is under a large amount of stress that lasts over a long period of time; memory, emotional regulation, and ability to maintain positive relationships are negatively affected. Therefore, neurologically, I had two strikes against me- a double-whammy.
From the sixth grade, up until I left Oakley, I was constantly in survival mode due to being bullied and had to be in order to protect my personal well-being. To even make it to graduation, I had to be hyper-vigilant to be safe. You must understand that when you are a target of vicious bullies, it is as if you constantly have a target on your back. You are a marked person and you learn very quickly to grow eyes in the back of your head.
And it’s no way to live. Please feel free to comment on your experiences and what you did to cope.