In all of our lives, there comes a time where we are bullied. Whether by a classmate, co-worker, friend, or significant other, it happens and sometimes more than once. When I was younger, I was bullied constantly. Starting in 4th grade and continuing throughout high school, I was teased about several things, including my weight, height, clothing, sexuality, socio-economic background, and a laundry list of other things as well. I even remember times I didn’t want to go to school because I was afraid of what someone might say that day.
For a long time, I felt anger towards those people, and I began to project that hurt and anger onto others around me. I figured that if I built my walls high enough and shut the world out, then all of the bullying would come to an end, or so I thought. Unsurprisingly, this mechanism didn’t work, and I went back to the drawing board when one day, I realized that bullying is a cycle, and there is only one thing able to break it: kindness.
I can recall times in my life where a simple hello or a smile from someone on the street made my day and encouraged me to do the same for someone else. Bullies are no exception to this; in fact, sometimes it is the bullies that need the reassurance of goodness in the world the most. The truth is, as human beings, we are incredibly fragile despite what our egos may think. When I started looking at every person as a child who just wants to be accepted, my perspective on what makes people be unkind changed. Nobody in this world is born cruel but instead made cruel.
We like to punish ourselves for things that happen to us even when deep down, we know it is not our fault. Because having someone to blame is much easier than assuming the world is unkind, right? But kindness starts from within. We cannot learn to love another person or treat them with kindness if we cannot do the same for ourselves first. Accepting yourself and making peace with our inner demons is the first step to passing that same energy onto the next person.
As future generations are born, and we continue to evolve as a species, there is an opportunity to change the world and the way we look at things. There is no reason that in the year 2020, anyone should be bullied or made to feel that they don’t belong. It shouldn’t matter what your race, sexuality, or gender is because any form of discrimination should no longer be tolerated. The power is in our hands as individuals to teach those around us how to create a safer and kinder world in which we can all thrive. Accepting and understanding one another is far more productive than bringing one another down.
We fall and rise together and are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. So, take the chance and break the cycle. By choosing kindness, we eliminate the chances of losing any more beautiful souls to the vicious cycle that is bullying. It is never too late to choose the higher road in life and treat others with empathy. You never know whose life you may change. It might just be your own.