A few weeks ago, I heard about an incident in Netherlands of a young Tamil boy who took his life due to bullying at school, and it hit home.
I grew up in a refugee camp to begin with, and since my parents didn’t speak German, I was not able to pick up the language very quickly, so I went to kindergarten and was picked on for not knowing German. Not just by fellow kids, but also the teachers, who isolated me and never included me in anything.
When I started primary school, I was picked on immediately. We didn’t have school Uniforms in Germany, and my parents couldn’t afford to dress me in nice things, so I was picked on for my dress code, not speaking German, and for being coloured. Germany in the 90’s was extremely racist. I was called names just because of my skin tone.
When I started high school, things got better, only to then be told that we are moving to England. I hated the high school system here. Yes we had Uniforms, and the teachers had a lot more control over students, but that never stopped the bullies. I had to sit at the front of every class due to my language barrier, and the so called ‘cool’ kids sitting at the back used to chuck paper at me when the teacher wasn’t looking.
On one occasion I had chewing gum chucked at me, which got caught in my hair, and I waited to use the bathroom, to cry in the cubicle because I couldn’t get it out of my hair. I was teased for the way I looked, for the way I dressed, for the way I spoke, for not being academically smart.
(Photo: MY Photography.)
I genuinely believed that Uni will change everything, but it didn’t. I moved out, and initially made friends with the people I lived with, but very soon they made their own friends from their courses and I was left on my own again. I tried really hard to make friends in my course, but I really struggled. I hated having group work or a lab partner, as I was always the last person to be selected. No one wanted to work with me.
I didn’t tell anyone about it, and I didn’t talk to a therapist either. In fact none of my family members knew about it, and the teachers/lecturers weren’t aware either.
I learned to not care anymore. I realised that a few years down the line none of these people were going to matter. I took a vow that I will make something out of my life, and that I will be happy, content, successful, and achieve my goals. I used to want those things, just so I can have people begging to be my friend.
Well today that doesn’t influence my decisions of course. Today I have learned to do things on my own, to be independent, and to run my own business. I achieved all the things I set out to achieve, and whoever stuck by me through this painful and long journey, are the ones I really regard as friends and who really matter to me.
I have considered taking my life numerous times during those awful years. I used to think no one would even notice if I was gone, and that I would probably enrich their lives by killing myself. I can safely say I have never crossed paths with any of these bullies since leaving school.
Bullies make you believe that something is wrong with you, when in reality something is wrong with them. They are the miserable and unhappy ones, and they get their notion of happiness by making others suffer. It is their way of coping, their way of surviving. It is not your fault. In fact be the better person and feel sorry for them, if you are not able to do so, then just ignore them.
Stooping to their level is never wise. We don’t know what they are going through nor why they are so bitter and unhappy. They must be fighting their own battles at home. But that is not your problem. You are loved, you have a beautiful family, and you have a roof over your head and cooked food on the table, stay strong and put up with it until you can make active choices.
Yes you could change schools, or jobs, or stop being friends with the person that constantly picks on you. But does that solve the problem? It deals with the symptoms not the source. How we react to these situations is dealing with the source of the problem. Just ignore them, and don’t change. Be the same kind person you want to be.
You would think bullying only happens in schools, but no it happens at work, it happens in relationships, it even happens amongst family members. We can never get away from a bully. They are everywhere, and around us. But we have the power to do something about it. To make choices that allow us to stay away from such people. Or remove ourselves from these situations. The first step is to talk to a loved one, confide in them, and let them help you. If you don’t, then there are professionals you can talk to at school or even at work to make them aware of this.
Why should you suffer for someone else? Why does the other person matter more than you? Why is it ok to feel sad, irrelevant, and lonely?
No one has that right or that kind of power over you. So don’t let them!
Just use me as an example. I was bullied most of my life, and today I regard myself as a successful and independent woman. I got those bullies to thank! I became tough and strong because of them.
So get up, dust off, and LIVE!!! Life gets better. I promise!!!
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This blog post was also published on TamilCulture.com by Vithya — Read here.
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