Why It Pays to Know Thyself

When you know yourself inside and out, you are better able to define yourself instead of letting others, particularly bullies and abusers, do it for you. And when you learn to accept only your definition of who you are, you can more easily avoid bullying because you’re better able to recognize it. And when you’re able to identify abuse, you’re least likely to put up with it.

In other words, when you know who you are, you also know what you want and what you will and will not tolerate, which is why knowing who you are is of the utmost importance.

Knowing yourself means knowing your feelings, senses, and instincts and trusting them to guide you through this crazy thing called life. Tuning in to your feelings and instincts means tuning into your gut. As we all know, your gut can guide you out of dangerous situations and environments if you allow it to.

Knowing yourself also means refusing to allow bullies to shame or ridicule you into staying in situations and circumstances that don’t feel good to you or around toxic people. To know yourself means to trust yourself to make the right decisions.

For example, during the years my classmates bullied me, there were times when they would accost me, and I’d put my hand up to them and walk away. I didn’t have time for their drama and foolishness. Next, one of them would shout, “Hey! Where are you going, you big chicken!” or “Oh, that’s right! Walk away like you always do!” or “You’d better run!”

Understand that when you turn your back and walk away from a bully and he calls out these things to you, it’s only their attempts to control you by defining you- to shame you into sticking around and taking their crap. Or, it could be that they’re trying to bait you into a fight because they know the chances are that you’ll get blamed for it.

No one wants others to think them to be a coward. But people will try to define you as one to corner you and trick you into doing what they want. They know that you’ll feel compelled to hang around and you’ll do it for no other reason than to prove to the rest of the world that you aren’t afraid.

Again, this is why you must know yourself. When you know deep down that you’re not what people call you, you won’t feel any need to do any posturing nor virtue signaling because you won’t have to prove anything. Although the name-calling may sting a little, it won’t bother you as much.

Another good thing about knowing yourself is that you won’t feel the need to hold back emotions. You’ll be able to recognize them better and allow yourself to feel them. You won’t let others tell you how you should feel or bullies to shame you into suppressing them.

You don’t have to put on a big front and try to act like someone you’re not.

To know yourself means freedom!

Understand that people who don’t know themselves will follow the crowd and try to fit in. People who don’t know themselves will accept other’s definitions of them without realizing it. They’ll build a fake identity based on how others view them and others’ expectations and ideas of who a real person should be.

Sadly, if a target is told by abusers that he’s stupid, no good, lazy and that he’ll never amount to anything, in many cases, they’ll live up to it. It will show up in their grades, performance, and how they interact with people.

During school, I lost knowledge of who I was only for a little while, and that was before the suicide attempt. Later, I become angry at myself for allowing them to define me.

It was later when I decided that I was going to be true to my own heart. It may not have looked that way to the outside observer. Still, inside, I got in touch with my inner sensations and instincts and began to realize that I wasn’t to blame for what was happening to me. I realized that their abuse was no reflection on me but spoke volumes about their lack of morals, decency, and character.

Getting to know myself brought confirmation that what they were doing was wrong. Now this inner realization didn’t stop me from being bullied and may have made it worse. But instead of hating and blaming myself, I listened to what my gut told me. I paid close attention to the vibes I was getting and maintained a strong sense of self while enduring the pain of not being accepted.

I decided from then on that I was going to maintain my inner strength. I would listen to my instincts when they told me that I had reason to fear certain people. Even better, I was no longer going to be ashamed of it. I began paying attention to how my body tensed up when I was around certain people and realized that it was only a cue for me to get away from those people.

And today, I trust myself enough to reject others’ definitions of who I am. In that, bullies are no longer able to have power over me, and I’m a much happier person for it.

And I want you to know that you too can get to that beautiful and peaceful place.

4 Changes That Bullying Causes in Targets – Beware!

Once a person suffers bullying for so long, changes in the brain occur- changes that aren’t good. Here are these changes:

1. The target becomes exhausted and loses the will to fight back. Being bullied is extremely tiring. Bullies know this and deliberately wear their victims down to take the fight out of them and wrest control over their lives.

Although at first, the target may defend themselves and fiercely assert their rights to human dignity and respect, most bullies don’t recognize any human rights but only see self-defense and protection as an affront to their power. They then only double down- intensify the hatred until they mentally and physically exhaust their target.

The target finally loses their will to fight back and acquiesces because he’s just worn slap out and no longer has the strength to fight anymore.

2. He loses the ability to recognize mistreatment. When we’re used to being treated well, we can more clearly see poor treatment and know the difference when it happens. But after so long of enduring bullying, the lines get blurred, and our eyes lose the ability to see aggression so clearly- especially if the hostility we face is subtle. We finally reach a point where we don’t recognize the bullying at all!

3. The target becomes conditioned to accept bad behavior from others. After so long, you come to believe what bullies tell you- that you’re a terrible person and that you somehow deserve to be treated shabbily.

These damaging self-beliefs happen after the bullies, their followers, and bystanders have repeatedly prevented you from defending and taking care of yourself. They have, for so long, drummed into your head that you are worthless, useless, evil, mentally unstable- take your pick. They repeat the same lies over and over until they force you to believe it too.

4. The target begins to punish himself. The victim does this by engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviors. He may hang with the wrong people and befriend those who only tolerate them. Targeted girls may participate in risky sexual behavior or having relationships with abusive partners.

Understand that we must be vigilant to take care of our mental health and self-esteem if we want to avoid these results in the future. Make sure you have a friend outside of the bullying environment that you can talk to and that your family is supportive. Do things you enjoy and keep company with positive and uplifting people any time you’re away from the bullies.

Your goal is to balance the bullying you suffer by adding healthy and positive relationships and experiences outside the bullying environment. This balance will soften the blows to your self-esteem and provide a buffer to your bullies’ attacks.

Bullying Will Either Make You or Break You

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All too often, whether at school or work, it’s the best of the best who get bullied- children and teens with pure hearts of gold, empathetic coworkers, the very people who don’t deserve it, and who want to make the world a better place.

These are the people who are team players, who are cooperative, and who deeply care about others. They extend kindness to others and will give you the shirts off their backs if you needed it.

Understand that simply caring– about anyone or anything is going to be painful. It’s why so many who were once kind and caring people are now cold, hard, angry, and bitter. These people were relentlessly bullied and they allowed it to make them cold and mean. They are often those who adopt the “I’m going to get you before you get me” attitude.

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For a long time, I was one of those people. After being bullied, I became no better than they were. I’m thankful that my eyes were opened and that I no longer have to resort to cruelty to protect myself. And I’m much happier and more confident in who I am!

Bullying has a way of taking it all out of you. It can take your self-esteem, your confidence, your happiness, your love and kindness for others, your energy, your health- even your will to live. But only if you let it!

Bullying will either make or break you.
It will either wise you up or dumb you down.

Either way, these results are up to you.

Bullying changes a person, no doubt about it. But don’t let it make you bitter. Let it make you better!

Enduring Years of Bullying Takes Guts!

It amazes me when I hear of targets of bullying, especially kids, being told to “toughen up.” Because anyone who endures long, miserable years of being bullied by everyone for everything and still finds it in them to get up and get on with it? These individuals are already tough.

I remember swallowing hard every morning at the bus stop. For any bullied kid, it takes a mountain of courage to step onto that school bus every day, knowing all too well what’s in store for them as soon as they get on and even worse once they grace the entrance to the school. For me, it was like walking into a minefield!

The daily ritual of being name-called, tripped in the hallways, having books knocked out of my hands, my long hair pulled, my head slammed into lockers, slapped, punched, kicked, shoved to the floor, and a barrage of death threats…it was never-ending! But through it all, I never gave up!

I look at these kids today- the ones who endure the same as I years ago (and worse with the internet now at play), and they have more heart and soul than all their classmates combined! They’re the strongest because they have no other choice but to be!

• The finding a reason to get up and go to school every day
• The holding on to your dignity with everything you have in you!
• The daily facing of your worst fear
• The countless insults and beatings
• The choking back of a river of tears that beg to pour forth
• The constant thievery of your pride and personhood
• The never-ending violations of your rights, to safety, and to learn in peace

To face all this, day after day, and STILL, find a reason to keep going? That takes grit! It takes guts! Moreover, it takes balls of steel!

So, if you’ve never experienced what these kids endure, before you tell some poor, bullied soul to “toughen up,” ask yourself this question. Would you have the fortitude to hold up under that kind of pressure?

And if you’re a kid who does face that kind of pressure at school every day, know that I understand, I hear you, I see you, and I have your back. Also know that you’re so much stronger and have more courage than you know! You have the heart of a lion!

Enduring Years of Bullying Takes Guts!

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It amazes me when I hear of targets of bullying, especially kids, being told to “toughen up.” Because anyone who endures long, miserable years of being bullied by everyone for everything and still finds it in them to get up and get on with it? These individuals are already tough.

I remember swallowing hard every morning at the bus stop. For any bullied kid, it takes a mountain of courage to step onto that school bus every day, knowing all too well what’s in store for them as soon as they get on and even worse once they grace the entrance to the school. For me, it was like walking into a mine field!

The daily ritual of being name-called, tripped in the hallways, having books knocked out of my hands, my long hair pulled, my head slammed into lockers, slapped, punched, kicked, shoved to the floor and a barrage of death threats…it was never-ending! But through it all, I never gave up!

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I look at these kids today- the ones who endure the same as I years ago, and they have more heart and soul than all their classmates combined! They’re the strongest because they have no other choice but to be!

• The finding a reason to get up and go to school every day
• The holding on to your dignity with everything you have in you!
• The daily facing of your worst fear
• The countless insults and beatings
• The choking back of a river of tears that beg to pour forth
• The constant thievery of your pride and personhood
• The never-ending violations of your rights to safety and to learn in peace

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To face all this, day by day and STILL find a reason to keep going??? That takes grit! It takes guts! Moreover, it takes balls of steel!

So, if you’ve never experienced what these kids endure, before you tell some poor, bullied soul to “toughen up,” ask yourself this question. Would you have the fortitude to hold up under that kind of pressure?

And if you’re a kid in school, who faces that kind of pressure every day, know that I understand, I hear you, and I have your back. Also know that you’re so much stronger and have more courage than you know! You have the heart of a lion!

A Letter to My Teenaged Self (Part 3)

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It won’t always be this way!

People won’t always bully you. And your classmates won’t always be in your life.

Your stomach won’t always be in knots and you won’t always be running out of class to go to the bathroom and throw up because of the intense stress.

You won’t always have to wonder when some snake at school is going to attack you in the halls or in the girls’ room.

The looking in the mirror and trying different outfits, makeup tricks and hairstyles- thinking that if you make yourself more attractive than you already are, the bullying will go away? It will soon end.

The wondering if you’re good enough and worthy of love? This will go away as well.

The wondering if you’ll ever be allowed to be yourself and to relax? This too shall pass.

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The wondering if you’ll ever have true friends- friends who will love you for being you, stick up for you, and take care of you? Friends you don’t have to explain yourself to? In a few years, none of it will even be an issue.

Trust me. There will come a day when you won’t have the fake friends you have in school. And when that day arrives, you will have real friends who will love you for all that you are and all the beauty you bring to this world.

There will come a day when you’ll have the courage to walk away from toxic people who are no good for you. And you won’t be afraid to stand alone until better people find you.

There will come a day when you’ll be so confident and secure in yourself that the cruel words of others will no longer matter.

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There will come a day when you’ll have a family of your own and friends who’ll love you for you.

People will no longer only tolerate you but celebrate you!

And each rejection, each bad name, each cruel taunt hurled; each punch, each kick, shove and blow to your body will piss you off a little more, and a little more. But that anger will give you the dogged determination to tune out the naysayers, follow your dreams and reach success!

Each incidence of bullying is only preparing you for what you’re meant to do later. It’s preparing you for a rewarding and successful life in the future.

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Each blow you take, each bruise, each disappointment, each humiliation, each pull of your hair, and each tear you cry is only making you better. It’s making you the lady you’re meant to become- a more compassionate, empathetic, stronger and wiser woman.

Your loneliness now will be appreciation of the circle of friends and abundance of love you’ll have later.

Your naivete will become wisdom.

Your victimization will become your launch pad

And your bullies, your motivation.

I know it hurts. It hurts terribly! But the pain you suffer today will be the power you enjoy tomorrow!

So, hold on.
Don’t lose sight of your goals.
The best is yet to come!

Love,
Your Adult Self

A Letter to My Teenaged Self (Part 2)

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I know it’s tough. But sometimes you must first live with what you hate before you can move on to what you love. You must weather the storm before you can see sunlight. Understand that only when we’ve been through hell, do we appreciate heaven so much more.

Although your mind tells you that there’s something wrong with you- that it’s your fault- that you must be doing something to rub these people the wrong way, your heart tells you differently.

Your heart tells you that you did nothing wrong, that these classmates don’t like themselves and that they’re putting all that negative energy off on you. But this war between your mind and your heart leaves you exhausted.

No matter how bad things get, I see that small glimmer of hope in your eyes. Don’t lose it.

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Although you carry an enormous amount of pain, you’re still holding on, taking it one day at a time. Keep it up.

Please love yourself and continue to forge your own path despite how others may treat you.

And please don’t hate your classmates, feel sorry for them- take pity on them. Because their lives aren’t as perfect as they let on. Believe it or not, your classmates are hurting too.

They have mental problems of their own that they never confessed nor got help for. Only they’ll never in this lifetime tell you about it.

Understand that they’re only keeping up appearances, which is such hard work. And they’re angry at you because you don’t have to work as hard as they do.

Realize that many of them are abused at home, have parents who are into prostitution or drugs and alcohol, and who fight. Many of them are also dirt poor, surviving on welfare and ashamed of it. Many of your classmates have home lives you couldn’t imagine! And school is their happy place.

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Open your eyes and see that your home life is better than a lot of kids your age. Be thankful for it. Your home is a sanctuary compared to most.

And they’re also scared= scared of becoming just like you- a target! Therefore, they feel compelled to join in the bullying.

But understand that all this makes them cowards and again, they’re to be pitied, not hated.

You don’t yet realize how strong, brave and resilient you are. But you are- just for the fact that you haven’t dropped out of school like so many of your classmates. You haven’t quit the race! You haven’t given up on life!

Even though you know all too well that you will bombarded with a barrage of taunts and insults, or worse, physically attacked once you pass through the school entrance, you manage to find the courage to get up every morning and go to school and- you do it scared!

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So, who are the weak ones now?

They may have favor with most of the teachers, even the ones who have little hope for you. However, most of them will never leave this town. This is a small town- only a dot on the map. In a small town, it doesn’t take much effort nor very long to maximize one’s potential.

Even though you feel so small and insignificant, understand that each of your classmates feel the same way you do. And the only way they can feel big and powerful is to make you feel bad. And one day, you’re going to see just how they end up.

Only a few will make it. The rest will be living in loveless and abusive marriages. Many will be poor and wondering how they’ll pay the rent. Some will join gangs or begin slinging dope.

Several will immerse themselves in drugs and alcohol to cope with their failures at life. A good portion of them will end up behind bars. And many will have kids who disrespect and hurt them.

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Most of your classmates will be on a desperate and never-ending search for love, going through numerous divorces and broken relationships. They’ll never learn to fall in love with themselves and with life first.

They’ll be on an endless quest for happiness and never realize that happiness comes from within themselves.

I know you want so badly to fix it, but don’t know what’s broken.

You’ll laugh at me when I tell you what I’m about to tell you. You’ll probably tell me I’m crazy and that I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I’m going to tell you anyway.

There’s nothing wrong with you. Your classmates are the ones with the issues! They are the ones who are “crazy” and to keep everyone from figuring it out, they put it all off on you.

I want you to know that you’re a major threat to them. That’s right. You are a threat to your classmates. Do you know why?

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It’s because you’re smart- smart enough to see right through them and they know it. They also hate it!

You’re also talented. You can sing, for crying out loud! You classmates know you can sing and they’re jealous of your beautiful voice. They’re afraid that you’re expose the bullying and let all their skeletons out of the closet.

Why do you think they shout you down and tell you to “shut up” every time you start to open your mouth? Why do you think they scream at you and tell you to sit down every time you get up to so much as sharpen a pencil or turn in homework- or even answer a teacher’s question in class?

But they’re very much afraid that you’ll humiliate them, so they keep you afraid to open your mouth.

They hate it when you write. But understand that they’re afraid you might be writing about them and their cruelty. Isn’t that why they had your journal taken?

But know this. You have so much potential. You just don’t know it yet, because you’ve been programmed to think that you’re no good and will never amount to anything.

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I know that sometimes you want to die. But if you keep living, I promise that things will get better- much better! Because you’re going to accomplish things you never thought you would. You will end up surprising yourself!

Although you think this is a load of feel-good garbage now, the truth is that your classmates bully you to keep you down because they fear that if you ever rise, you’ll cause them to fade into the background.

I also know that your home life isn’t so hot either. Your father doesn’t believe in you and treats you more like a stepchild then a child. He acts like you’re not one of his. But understand that he’s battling demons of his own.

And I know that you’re anxious for your mother to remarry so you’ll have a replacement dad. I know you dream of having a stepdad who’ll legally adapt you as his own. But honey, no one else will ever replace your daddy and someday, you’re going to realize it.

I know it seems that you and Mom don’t see eye to eye and the easiest way to avoid any fallouts is to stay in your room, write and get lost in the music you blare so loudly.

I know you feel like she’s ashamed of you and wishes she had a different child. She isn’t and she doesn’t. She loves you very much and the bullying you suffer hurts her too. Know that she’s on your side.

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And you’re going to find out later that if you open your heart to her and talk, even cry to her, she’ll listen while she holds you, and you’ll grow closer than ever before.

Also realize that every kid goes through times when they’re at odds with parents. And I’ll go back to a point I made earlier- your home life is a lot better than most.

I know you’re withdrawn- closed off- scared to talk to people because you’re afraid they’ll make fun of anything you have to say. But take the risk anyway. Open your heart to people. Laugh and have fun with them. I promise you that they just might see your golden heart and love you for it.

School is worse than anything. I know that inside, you want to laugh, want to sing, want to dance, but you’re afraid. Know that one day, you’ll have the courage to let yourself do and be.

Know that what you’re going through now is only temporary.

(Continued in Part 3…)

A Letter to My Teenage Self

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Hey, Angel!

I know you’re hurting, you’re lonely, and you’re frightened. You’re exhausted- damned tired of having to fight just to get through what should be a normal school day. You’re also confused- you’re not sure what you should do to remedy the situation.

Hurting, heartbroken- crushed because the judgements are severe, and no one will give you a chance. Your opportunities have been taken from you- opportunities to make new friends, to get a part-time job, for scholarships, and for dating and romance- just to grow as a person and move forward!

Lonely, isolated- alienated from seemingly everyone because your good name has been defamed and destroyed. Everyone is seemingly scared of you- scared to be seen with you. Or they’re cruel to you.

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You can feel the contempt when they look at you with eyes that pierce you. And yes! It cuts deep! You withdraw and refuse to speak to them. You act as if you don’t need any of them, even respond to them in kind. You do all this not because you want to but strictly for self-preservation, which only makes them hate you more, and alas, reinforces the alienation.

Frightenedterrified of making mistakes, and of failing because of the continuous threat of being taunted, ridiculed, humiliated! And why not? It’s already happened, and it continues to.

You’re in danger- danger of being physically attacked- shoved to the floor, your hair pulled out, punched, kicked, choked! You even fear they’ll slice your face, cut your throat, stab or shoot you because they’ve already threatened to. In the back of your mind, you know that every action begins with a thought.

Exhausted– damned sick of the never-ending drama, the fakery and the stupidity of not only your classmates but a few petty, immature, and cliquey teachers who are only adult versions of the punks who torment you, and who probably picked their careers because they couldn’t get enough of their glory days of high school. I know that’s what you’re thinking.

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You’re just plain wore out from the incessant need to grow eyes in the back of your head- watching your back, looking over your shoulder and of the ducking and dodging people who wish to do you harm! Who can learn when they’re constantly in defense mode?

You’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Period!

Confused– bewildered as to how you should respond to the cruelty the school subjects you to. Because of the constant abuse, you don’t even know who you are now. You’re not sure which direction you should go in, nor what the future will bring. You don’t know what to say because you aren’t sure how the words will come out and whether you’ll end up saying something stupid.

You consistently wrack your brain, trying to figure out why. You wonder how it all even got started and what you must’ve said or done to bring it about.

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You’re bullied every day, all the time, by everyone, for everything.

It seems that no one will allow you to be a human being.

If you smile, people automatically think you’re up to something.
If you frown, they think you’re feeling sorry for yourself.

If you laugh, people think you’re making fun of them.
If you cry, they tell you you’re too sensitive and call you a crybaby.

If you sing, you’re accused of showboating.
If you write, they accuse you of writing something nasty about them.

If you wear a dress, makeup and your hair down, you’re only trying to impress the opposite sex and get a date and/or laid.
If you wear your jeans a little too tight, they label you a whore.

If you get angry, speak out or fight back, they label you as crazy, mentally unbalanced and in need of professional help.
If you’re happy and cheerful, they ask you what mischief you got or whether you slept with someone.

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If you’re friendly, they accuse you of kissing up.
If you’re quiet, distant, and don’t feel like talking, they call you a snob and accuse you of being stuck-up.
Yet, if you speak, they only shout you down and tell you to shut up.

If you’re dating, they think you’re having sex
If you’re not, they say it’s because you’re a prude, a loser, or that no one will have you.

You’re fully aware that everyone- everyone is watching you closely- clocking your every move, listening to every word that comes out of your mouth. They’re nosy, always prying into your private business. And they’re constantly waiting- just waiting for you to screw up- make a mistake- just one tiny error, all for the purpose of using it against you later and making it bigger.

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Sweetie, I know that you’ve been unjustly and unfairly labeled- branded, like a cow. Even worse, they’re trying their hardest to make you believe it too.

But don’t! Don’t believe the lies! They don’t know you, even after so many years, your classmates still don’t know you. Because, for so long, they’ve been so busy pointing fingers at you that they never really took the chance to get to know you.

And what they don’t know is that you have a heart of gold.

You only want what everyone else wants and seems to have- friends and to be loved and accepted for the person you are. Although they may ridicule or demonize you for wanting those things, please know in your heart that there’s no shame in having those desires because it’s only natural to have them. It’s only human nature.

It seems that every time you pull yourself up, they always seem to be waiting to knock you back down again. But they only do it because they’re deathly afraid that if you ever rise, you’d take some of the spotlight from them, along with the benefits they’re getting at your expense.

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When you try to talk about the brutality you suffer at school, the classmates bully you harder and the adults only turn a deaf ear. But understand that they only silence you out of fear- fear that their own bad behavior and shortcomings will be exposed. And the adults are afraid of being seen as negligent and of the impact on the school’s reputation. The town of Oakley prides itself in it’s schools.

You’re so anxious for school to just be over with, but don’t rush it. Instead, learn everything you can while you can. Get as much out of it now, while it’s easiest to do so!

You’ve been beaten down and trampled underfoot for so long that now, you’re feeling desperate- desperate to just pack up and leave. And you’re willing to go to any lengths necessary to get out of this toxic environment you’re trapped in. Just be sure that you don’t end up jumping out of frying pan and into the fire.

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I also know that you’re in a hurry to grow up. You just want to turn eighteen and become an adult who can then have control over her own life. But please, slow down! Having control of your own life is not what it’s cracked up to be.

Please! Whatever you do, don’t lose hope because I promise you! Life will get better- much better. It’s just not time right now. Your due season hasn’t arrived yet.

(Continued in part 2…)