Personal Experience Spotlight: Jennifer

True Friend in “Plastic’s” Clothing:
Self Defense Against Bullying Can Be a Lifelong Lesson 

I can watch the movie Mean Girls and relate to the character Regina George because of how, underneath all her meanness, she just wants to be liked and accepted. Who doesn’t feel that way? But I would never take it to the extent of being liked at someone else’s expense. Sure, it’s easy enough to get sucked into gossiping and laughing along with the crowd, but is it the right thing to do? I am also tall and lean with the body of a “plastic” but the heart of a true friend. I never really fit into any clique; my personality is more multi-dimensional than that, so I have always been an outsider who sided with the underdog. I would defend other victims of bullying but still find it difficult to defend myself. For example, I would defend my best friend if I saw her being bullied by saying, “That’s my best friend; don’t talk to her like that,” but felt awkward speaking up for myself. Although girls have a reputation for being mean to one another, I also had a lot of problems with guys. People can be cruel; it doesn’t matter who they are. I can remember being bulled in the 5thgrade. It couldn’t even wait until middle school, could it? Of course not, kids are cruel. Up until then, I’d encountered the occasional mean kid and I’d have my feelings hurt, but this was different. It just wouldn’t stop, and I remember them laughing at me, pushing me on the playground, and excluding me from their cliques.

I went to guidance counselors and teachers for help when I was being bullied, all to no avail. I was told to ignore it or that the other kids were just being kids. I’d also get an insincere apology when the authority figures forced them to do so. This was just the beginning, because contrary to popular belief, kids do not change. They might grow and mature, but all ages have a mean streak. In middle school, I was the target for spit balls and locker pranks. Other students would take advantage of my hard work and copy my homework. In high school, I cut class to avoid my classmates and teachers.

Bullying and discrimination are going to happen, and probably all a person’s life. According to the media a lot of students thought suicide was the answer. But the only way to survive is to learn how to handle bullies in an intelligent manner.  It is important for the victims to have psychological comebacks for the bullies. For example, never to defend yourself because this gives the impression that you need to argue the bully’s point. Let’s assume someone is picking on someone for being a nerd. The correct response would be to agree with him or her and say that it’s great to be smart and that he or she is probably just jealous. A quick comeback shocks the bully and will lessen the chance he or she will mess with you again. After making your comeback, leave the scene immediately to avoid escalating the situation. The most important defense is to build self-confidence and be assertive. Bullies only choose victims that they think won’t defend themselves. By being prepared, you can make sure you won’t be another victim. And finally, as the famous Beatles song tells us, all we need is love… so remember to treat others how you want to be treated.

© Jennifer for Acceptance Revolution, 2012

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