Being bullied is one of the most damaging things that can happen to you, no matter how old you are.
I remember coming home from school, waiting until the lights were out so my parents wouldn’t hear me crying; I thought there was something wrong with me.
Clearly there was a specific way to be, and I did not tick all the boxes, or so I thought. I think it was there when I first adopted the belief that I wasn’t good enough.
I’d be lying if I said that the bullying I experienced then doesn’t affect me as an adult, but that’s not to say that I haven’t discovered some great attributes that I’ve developed as a result of the experience.
Being Bullied Makes You Develop Empathy For Others
Everyone has gone through tough experiences in life, whether it be bullying or a medical saga as long as a textbook. These painful experiences give you common ground with others, which makes it easier to relate to others and develop meaningful connections with others, and you never know where those connections may lead you.
Being bullied allows you to understand the value of kindness and small gestures because you have been on the receiving end of those things; you also understand the effect negative language can have on a person.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to bend over backwards to be empathetic to everyone you meet, but I’ve found that being kind and understanding, which can stem from your experiences, often gets you places in life.
Being Bullied Makes You Develop A Thick Skin
Sometimes the things that are said to you can help desensitize you to the words’ harmful effects. This is not to say that you’ll be completely immune to the power of words and waltz off into a field of flowers and rainbows without a care in the world, because you are human. However, your bullying experience can enable you to step back from a situation and analyze what is really happening without getting so emotionally invested.
During my sophomore year of university, for example, I lived with a verbally abusive roommate. Her favorite thing to do was deliver hurtful jabs at my expense in conversation and pass it off as humor. She would bring me down and poke fun at the field I had chosen to study, often calling it “worthless” and comparing it to her own major.
My experience of having been bullied allowed me to look at the situation objectively. I was dealing with an individual who felt threatened by me and everyone else around her. She needed to verbally bring other people down to feel good about herself.
This realization allowed me to regain a lot of my personal power, and helped me develop a much thicker skin. I wasn’t nearly as bothered by her as I would have been otherwise; rather, I felt sorry for her.
Developing a thick skin is difficult, but it allows you to focus on yourself and move forward despite adversity. Words can (and often do) hurt, but your bullying experience can help you focus on the things that are important to you rather than the voices of people around you.
Being Bullied Lets You Focus on What Makes YOU Awesome
Just because your bullies call you fat doesn’t mean you are. Not all of us look like we’ve walked off the pages of a fashion magazine, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t just as awesome.
Break out a piece of paper and pen and write down the things you love about yourself. Do you speak two languages? Love how beautiful your hair is? Are you unwaveringly loyal to your friends? Keep adding to it. Ask your closest girlfriends what they love about you, and add those things to the list. Put it up where you can see it. Focus on it. Re-read that list when you’re feeling down.
Focusing on what makes you awesome not only boosts your self-esteem, but it’s also the most powerful “[insert expletive of choice here]” to your haters.
By focusing on what YOU rock at and pursuing your dreams, you can go to bed knowing that you busted your butt to get to where you are, which is a very satisfying feeling.
Being Bullied Shows You Who Your Real Friends Are
You might have 500 Facebook friends, but that doesn’t mean that they’re really your friends. When you’re being bullied, it’s easy for those around you to drift away because they’re afraid of becoming targets.
Not everyone is going to stand up for you when you’re being bullied. But the ones who support you are special. They’re the ones you should keep around. Actions do speak louder than words.
When you’re going through a rough experience like bullying, you’re going to need your support system more than ever. They will be able to encourage you and keep you grounded when everything around you seems like it’s being destroyed.
Spending quality time with people who you know genuinely care about you and your well-being will help build your confidence and sense of self-worth again, which is something more valuable than any physical token of your friendship.
There is no denying the fact that being bullied is jarring for anyone’s self-confidence, no matter how old you are. Focusing on the positives to come out of such a painful experience will be difficult, especially at first.
However, focusing on the positive instead of ruminating on the negative will set you free. You may even be grateful for such experiences because of the positive qualities you walk away with.
Sometimes the most painful experiences make you a much stronger person.