I had a typical junior high school life. I was worried about boys and grades and if I would pass my ballet exams. I dyed my hair purple with Kool-Aid. I stuffed my bra. I did all of the things that normal teenagers go through. I wasn’t exactly a nerd. I wasn’t exactly popular. But, I was totally awkward.
I existed in a time before people made documentaries about “bullies” and before Anderson Cooper held television specials about it. All I knew, was that one my way to school people were throwing eggs at me, and I would have to either run home in the negative 40 degree weather to change, or try to wash the egg out of my hair in the bathroom at school before class. My haters also loved to use shaving cream, right on my head. The more you messed with it and tried to get it out, the more it would foam up. I never stayed at school those days. My mom was aware I was being picked on, and I can remember crying, running down the hallway at my house, wishing just wishing for people to like me.
I think all of us have a growing up battle scar, and so I won’t go on.
Instead, I wanted to talk about what happened to me today, last week and for the last 6 years since I began existing on the internet. It started on Myspace, people posting horrible mistruths about me. Twitter took over, where total strangers were allowed to use words like Cunt, Bitch and Whore to describe me. People randomly telling me I was worthless, stupid, and pathetic. Websites popped up where people would go to create images and stories about how horrible I was.
I was always in shock that a stranger could hate me so much that they would work all night to create the Ihatekeltiecolleen group on tumblr. I also wondered who the person was that spent all night photoshopping horses faces onto mine and posting those photos. (I'm aware i have a large forhead, you didn't need to do that.) Most of them were probably to young to understand how their words anonymously on the internet could affect my life. When employers would google me, it was the first thing they would see. I have lost out on jobs because the brands or companies couldn’t be connected to someone who had “that” reputation.
One that, I might add, I did nothing to get. I am not a cunt, bitch or a whore. People who have stories about when I was mean to them or said I hated a certain fan-base and liars. I've never said anything like that.
I’m not sure what is worse, having someone beat you to your face or behind it. But I do know that this has got to stop. I know the reasons that people hate other people because after all, I am a human. I feel those same jealousies, issues and emotions that all of us feel. I’ve wanted to pick on the big guy to make myself feel better. I’ve wanted to stomp on the small guy when someone was stomping on me.
When I graduated from high school a guy I went to school with and barely talked to (I think we sat beside each other in history) mailed a letter to my house. This guy was the target of most of my schools bullies. He was slightly overweight, awkward, and didn’t have a ton of friends. The letter he sent me I still have to this day. In it, he thanked me for always being nice to him even though I was “popular” (was I popular? I felt like a total outcast. I was definitely more popular than he was.) He thanked me for always looking him in the eye, and he told me that he knew I was going to go on and have an amazing life because I had such kindness in my heart.
So, instead of ragging on the bad guys, and calling out the bullies and saying what a shame is it that any of this has ever happened, I encourage you to be the better person.
You have the power to be that person who doesn’t get involved in picking on others, finds other ways to deal with all of the emotional garbage in life, and the one person who looks everyone (even if they are not “cool”) in the eyes. You could be the saving grace to someone’s really horrible day. You could be a safe place for someone who can barely walk down the hall. I assure you it is pretty easy, and somewhat fun, to kill people with kindness. Nothing drives a bully more insane then when you tell them how much you love their hair. I do it all the time. Be the better person.
For more information on how to help visit The Bully Project!