Dear Silent Ones,
One of the biggest issues terrorizing students in your schools is bullying, but something that is happening, which is even worse is staying silent through it. How do I know that? I was one of them. Middle school is never kind, but for me it was beyond cruel. At my first dance as a sixth grader I was so excited to be hanging out with my friends and doing something I loved to do -- dance! About half way through the night an 8th grade girl stopped me and told me that I needed to stop stuffing my bra (I was more developed than most middle schoolers) and acting like a slut.
Now to the shy and quiet middle schooler I was, I didn’t know how to stand up for myself, so instead of ignoring her I believed her. My self confidence completely destroyed by one girl who I didn’t even know her name. The girl I am now knows I should have found one of the teachers or told my parents when they picked me up, but I didn’t. I didn’t even tell my friends I was with. In my mind if I told I would be called a Narc or TattleTale or some other mean name. So I kept the pain inside and didn’t let it show on the outside.
Even though this happened to me years ago, it is still happening today. The students I work with every week are internalizing and hiding the pain of bullying. You might be one of them right now. You might be agreeing with my sixth grade self who didn’t want more nicknames to add to the pain. But let me tell you something--keeping it locked up inside makes things WORSE. Because of this girl I didn’t think I was pretty. I didn’t think I was worth people’s time. I. WAS. WRONG.
You should never let bullying define who you are because each and every one of you are made with a purpose in life. I know that my bully’s words might seem tame to some of the stuff your bully is doing to you, but the thing is no matter what they are doing or saying, if it is big or small, if it is making you feel worthless you need to speak up.
I let my inner pain eat me alive for 9 years before I dealt with it and in those 9 years I made mistakes and became a person I didn’t want to be. It could have all been different if I just spoke up. My advice: find someone you trust. Whether it is a parent or teacher or another adult in your life or maybe even a friend. Tell someone. That is your first step. Depending on what the bullying is there might be next steps and they might be tough, but in the end it is freeing! Remember, who you truly are is the most beautiful thing you can ever be!
WRITTEN BY Ashley Kreager