#EndBullying

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When I was asked by Wattpad and TELUS to create a story for their #EndBullying campaign, I was so honored. As someone who was bullied relentlessly as a kid, I know what it feels like to not want to go to school, to dread every second you're there and to wish it would end. The good news is that it gets better. I promise. And this is my story inspired by TELUS' initiative to #EndBullying. You can find the story on my profile here.


***


I don't normally share a lot of my life. In fact, I don't know that what I'm about to tell you is something I've shared with anyone.


So here it goes.


Long before women routinely had children in their 40s, my mom was a trailblazer. She had me when she was 42. My dad was 50. You're probably wondering why this is important. Well, it meant that my youngest sibling was 12 years older than me! My oldest, 20 years.


This changes how you grow up. By the time I was 6, my 3 siblings were all adults. It also meant that I grew up faster than most kids. It also meant I was on my own a lot.


My trailblazing mom also started her own business when I was 3 and my dad already had his own business. I often came home to an empty house. My siblings had their own lives and that didn't include their little sister. Apparently, I was known to make ketchup sandwiches (yes, I know this is gross) during this time. My culinary skills have come a long way since then.


And as a kid of immigrant parents, just about everything I did was wrong. There was this one guy, I'll call him Jeff. I had a huge crush on him in elementary school. Like the biggest crush in the world, but he liked Courtney. Courtney was the pretty girl, with long blonde hair and big blue eyes. Pretty much the anti-me.


Well, Jeff didn't like me at all. Not even a little. He pretty much ridiculed me every chance he got. Two things stick out in my memory. Two things that Jeff did to me that I'll never forget.


The first one—well, it's not so bad, but he used to make fun of my scraggly hair, mismatched clothes and my glasses. He also called me fat. A lot. But he especially loved to make fun of my school lunch. You see, my mom made me a tuna sandwich because that's what I liked. And every day, Jeff would make fun of it. Every. Single. Day. He'd go on and on about the smell and how gross it was. And other kids would laugh and make fun of it too, to the point I'd get pretty self-conscious about it and try to hide it. Have you ever tried to hide a tuna sandwich?


Then one day my mom got creative and put roasted red peppers in it. I can't tell you the humiliation I went through when Jeff saw the roasted red peppers in my tuna sandwich. Jeff made this huge production, pointing to my lunch and telling everyone that I was eating body parts. Almost the entire class laughed. All except Courtney and my friend Carly. I tried to laugh it off myself, but deep down I wanted to cry. And every day after that, Jeff wanted to see my lunch, like it was his business. By this point I dreaded going to school and tried to find ways of getting out of it. I also begged my mom to never put roasted red peppers in it again.


To this day I don't eat roasted red peppers.


The best thing that ever happened to me was finishing elementary school and ridding Jeff from my life. Jeff was going to a different middle school and that meant my tormentor would be gone. But not before he humiliated me one last time.


We got a dog the summer before I started 7th grade and I was over the moon. His name was Prince. My sister and I were walking him and we had the sad misfortune of running into Jeff and his friends. And just like it happened yesterday, I will never forget when he said: "Oh look, a dog walking a dog."


I think my sister was embarrassed because she didn't say anything, and I fought so hard not to cry. Here was a beautiful moment of me walking my new dog, and Jeff ruined it. I vowed then not to let Jeff ruin another day of mine.


I decided then to surround myself with positive influences. It's around that time that I started writing. I also made friends with people who accepted me for who I was. And would you believe that one of those people was Courtney? We are still friends to this day. And I realized that I needed to open up to people, to talk about what makes me happy and what makes me sad. And I always make a conscious effort to lift up other people. To show them the positives in their own lives.


Because we all have a Jeff in our life, but he won't be there forever. Eventually he'll slink off and you'll never see him again. I haven't seen Jeff since high school and by then he was someone I rolled my eyes at. Not that it matters, and really, I feel kind of sorry for him, but Jeff didn't make much of his life. At least not so far. The last update from Courtney was that he was in rehab for a drug addiction. Maybe Jeff had demons and that's why he bullied people. I suppose I'll never know.


But my point is this: It gets better. And you're stronger than you think. And take what your passion is and nurture it. And remind yourself about all the good things you have. Most important of all, tell someone how your feel. A trusted friend or family member. You don't have to be alone. Let's #EndBullying together.


By the way, I still love tuna fish sandwiches. Even if they are stinky.

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