• "My saving grace that high school was not far off and the pond, as they say, grew a lot bigger." (AAP)Source: AAP
"To all of you who bullied me in those early years, I need to say this: I carry no residual blame or ill-feelings towards you. Conversely, what you gave me was the gift of adversity."
By
Emily Nicol

17 Mar 2017 - 2:20 PM  UPDATED 17 Mar 2017 - 4:31 PM

As a young girl, there was no way I could have known you had it in you to become my schoolyard bullies.

There was no way that, given we were all so close through almost all of our primary school years that just near the end of that chapter, those bonds would turn in to a well of pain for me.

There was no way I could’ve predicted that all of the birthday parties, the discoveries and the firsts that we traversed together would be un-wound and marred by the appearance of a new kid on the block. Someone who, in trying to find their way into the social structure that we existed in, saw me as the perfect one to tear down and replace with themselves.

In truth, I can’t remember a lot of that time, (maybe as a defence mechanism built within my psyche) but what I can recall was that you all did an about face and loss of friendship, what felt like a deep betrayal to my 10-year-old self.

Countless prank calls that penetrated the sanctuary of my home life. So much so that I had to leave school halfway through year six.

It’s a known factor in the majority of bullying cases, it’s the person  who stands out – for whatever reason – that becomes an easy target.

And so it was that I stood out for a number of reasons: a family breakup, the death of a sibling, a public profile from my years spent as a childhood actor – possibly all factors that culminated in becoming a target. Who is to know why, but somehow I found myself the outcast and feeling foreign in a world I thought I knew so well. Taunted and harassed. Countless prank calls that penetrated the sanctuary of my home life. So much so that I had to leave school halfway through year six.

Not content with that, mutual friends from my new ‘haven’, a school in the neighbouring suburb knew of me and waited in the school driveway to continue the taunts.

High school students ensure nobody sits alone at lunch
"There are so many problems in this world and the only thing that can solve it is relationships."

It was a tough time but I made my way through it.

My saving grace was that high-school was not far off and the pond, as they say, grew a lot bigger. There were social struggles there as well but I eventually found my tribe. And interestingly enough, when I was 18, on the bus on the way home from work,  a girl that I didn’t recognise confronted me to say that I had hurt her in that first uncertain year of high-school and I was shocked. I had been a bully. It was an interesting turn and one that made me realise that so often these behaviours are so unconscious, as we try to navigate these complex social settings and find our place. The power plays that go on under the surface. Are we consciously aware of what roles we are playing or just following suit?

Keep being you, as that is what the world wants and needs, even if they don’t know it right now.

To all of you who bullied me in those early years, I need to say this: I carry no residual blame or ill-feelings towards you. Conversely, what you gave me was the gift of adversity.

Upon reflection it’s hard to see where exactly the deepest scars of childhood come from, but ultimately as clichéd as it sounds, the struggles present the possibility of leading you to self-knowledge and great human values of compassion and awareness. And that is where I found the gold in the pain. I know myself now and being forced to confront so much loss at a young age set me up on a path that has allowed me to access my gifts.

There is something quite strange within the human makeup that at once tries to dismantle uniqueness in others and yet also greatly rewards those that are unapologetically themselves. Maybe we see it as an act of bravery and defiance by those who do dare to stand up and show their true colours in a sea of mediocrity? We all yearn to be that person deep down.

For anyone going through this experience now, in the end it all evens out. Bullying is a reflection of those people carrying it out. It’s not about you although it deeply involves you. You have done nothing wrong and the act of being bullied does not detract from who you are, your greatness or worth as a person. Please believe that.

Keep being you, as that is what the world wants and needs, even if they don’t know it right now.

March 17 is the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence in Australia. For more information, click here. Follow #BullyingNoWay and #NDA2017 on social media.

If you are in need of support or having issues at school that you want to talk about, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or click here for more information. 

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