The girl who sits in the corner at secondary school with few friends. The girl who pretends to hear nothing when they make fun of her. The girl who believes that there is only one word suitable to describe herself - worthless. The girl who, no matter how hard she tries, just can’t quite fit in and doesn’t understand why.
I wish you could read this just now. I am so proud of what you will become. Never, never let someone stop you from being you. It's the most important thing you will ever be.
I know life may seem impossible just now - with the constant taunts, the emotional and physical abuse. The first few times you will shrug it off. You get hurt so much and so often, that you just say: “I’m used to it.” You don’t detect it as something wrong.
People say things like “it’s part of the school experience” or “it is just kids; everyone gets bullied, you need to get over it” but you wonder if you ever will.
You twist your life to fit their mould. They try to change you but you are not made of clay. You will soon discover that they put you down to try and raise themselves up. They make you feel so small that you begin to believe that you are the one to blame. I know you are tired of always being the victim to their fun.
Right now, you feel powerless and helpless. It’s like you are nothing, that you don’t matter and never will matter.
A feeling of emptiness. Every. Single. Day.
I know you are looking at other people and they always seem so happy. You observe other people’s lives and happiness always seems to come to them so easily. And you wonder why can’t that be you?
Every morning, you beg your parents not to make you go to school but every morning, with tears glistening in your eyes, you walk into the torture chamber.
You have numerous visits to the doctors as the anxiety surreptitiously begins to take over your mind and control you. Fear and danger suddenly engulf the friendly and colourful children’s hospital consultation room. The fairytale fantasy of Disney characters and Winnie the Pooh on the walls became a dark nightmare.
But, although you don't realise it just now, these struggles will shape you. It is not what we face, but how we face it that really matters. Difficult situations test us and stretch us to our limits. They force us to build confidence and develop strength; to show more love and compassion towards others; to be selfless and to think of others’ hard times as well as our own. Nobody deserves to suffer, but when we do, we often come away from it as a better person.
When you are being bullied, they always try to tell you that “it’s not you”, “it’s not what you’ve done”, “it’s the other person” but for a long time, you will allow them to make you believe that you were in the wrong, that you are the problem. I want you to remember that you are not the problem. You never were.
In your late-teens, you will still find it difficult to make friends and you will prefer to stand on your own, rather than initiate conversation with new people. You will never again trust the sound of laughter coming from behind you because you will always assume someone is having a laugh at your expense. You will bail on friendships more quickly because you have a hard time trusting friends. This may mean that you miss out on a lot of new friends, but I understand that it makes you feel safe.
And one day, you will learn to say thank you to the bullies.
Thank you for teaching you how to be kind. Being bullied will allow you to understand the value of kindness and small gestures. The difference you can make to someone by extending a helping hand can make all the difference. You never know the struggles people are facing in their day-to-day lives and so if you can add even a small amount of joy to someone’s day, you are doing it right.
Thank you for teaching you the power of words. You will come to learn that words are the most powerful thing we possess. They can be inspiring or they can be destructive. The bullies’ words have destroyed many years of your life. But because of their words, you will choose yours carefully.
Thank you for making you strong. The bullies have put you through years of hell, but having nowhere to run will teach you how to stand your ground and you will develop a steel-like exterior. Despite the hurt, the bullies truly did contribute to the biggest gift of all: learning to genuinely love and accept who you are. You will learn how to love yourself more, how to be strong, how to believe in yourself and how to fight for yourself.
Thank you for making you more compassionate. You will learn how to face yourself without fear, with a growing sense of maturity that will help you to look beyond your pain and see other people’s. You will learn how to see beyond the superficial. You will see that behind every face, behind every pair of eyes, there is a story to be told, if we just take more time to stop and listen. You will never want anyone to ever feel as isolated and lonely as you did.
I have written this letter because I want you to know - the bullies don’t win. You will. You do.
You are not the demons in your mind. You are not the hurt and pain you feel on the inside. You are stronger than that. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t give up. You are loved.
The future is better than you think,
Your Future Self.
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