In this Blog Series, It Happened To Me #BeingBullied, I am going to share first-hand experiences of people who have been bullied, in an as-told-to-me version. These are true accounts shared by some of my closest friends, relatives and colleagues. Since this is a blog series to highlight the impact of bullying, and help you understand the same through real life accounts, I shall not name anyone. It’s not the person but the experiences that count here. So hope you stay connected with us for the next 5 days and share your stories and those you may have come across too.
Episode 1. Verbal Bullying
“I Was Bullied For The Way I Look. Wish They Knew It Was NEVER In My Control.”
People often ask me how am I so confident all the time. What they don’t know is that behind this confident face, there are insecurities. It hurts to think of my time back in school, when I was teased over something which was not in my control. My features.
I am an Indian but my features don’t resemble the typical or so-called “normal” Indian standards and I have been given several names ever since I was in school.
My small eyes, straight thin hair, light brows speak of my roots, but I guess that is not what is acceptable in the larger picture. Many a times (till date) I have been identified by people as belonging to another Asian Country, called “Chinky”, and other racist names. And in response, I would just smile or pretend as if I didn’t hear because I didn’t understand what pleasure they got out of it, and why do they need to pinpoint any difference at all. But that feeling of who might say what, will I be made fun of again, will someone say something now, drove me crazy. It was tough to put up a happy face when there was so much going on in my mind. And in all of this, there is this one incident that has stayed and it hurts me till date.
I was in the cheer-group with my classmates cheering for our Girls’ Basketball team during a match. We were all screaming this one girl’s name, who was very popular and a great player. A teacher walked up to us and said to me, “Oh, so sweet. Are you cheering for her because she has small eyes like you?” The teacher spoke, laughed and walked away but his words stayed back. What did he mean? Why would he say such a thing? He may have found humor in that or the need to say it, but for a 14 year-old me, it was devastating. Everyone around me started laughing and they took this obnoxious joke to another level and it continued on and off throughout school.
After school finished, I tried to stay connected with my friends but these talks of looks became even more common. I changed my city and chose to study in a different college, far from this chaos. I was more accepted there. I still met people with little knowledge who confused my origin and questioned it, but I found comfort for I wasn’t teased constantly. But that episode has always stayed. Today, more than ever I feel like going back and telling that teacher what he did to me. Even though I am a strong individual today, that episode brings back my insecurities. When my mind stops following me, I go back to being that girl who eventually became conscious of the way she looked, feared going out in groups because she felt someone would crack a racist joke, hated being clicked and what not. I wish that teacher would have just walked up to us and said, “Good on you girls,” and not picked on me individually.
I am 35 today but that day is a clear picture in my head. I am surrounded by people who love me for being me, and have a wonderful family. I love myself and am more confident than ever. But no one can erase those days where I have wept alone, wondered what is it that is so different about me that people cannot accept. I couldn’t change my features (and why should I), but I wish people could change their outlook. I wish the teacher was more thoughtful, knew what impact his words could have. I wish those kids were sensible enough to not make me feel embarrassed for something I had no control over.
In the end…
I still go back to that day and feel a chill, but over the years I realized that the best way to overcome these remarks, racist jokes, teasing and name-calling is by simply ignoring it. It hurts, at times, but you’ve got to be strong. Even I can say things to any person, but that will just be the same as them…mean and being a BULLY. I feel sad that they are unaware of what is around them, the cultures and places within their own country. Each person is different and if that difference is funny to them or they feel they must talk about it, let them. I am happy in my skin and I love everything about me. And that is exactly how I wish to live my life and will do so.
–As told to WebPep.blog