How Being Bullied Changed My Life
A Patch writer opens up about the effects of bullying from his own experience.
Editor's note: October 3-7 has been designated the Week of Respect in New Jersey, which coincides with National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. In Bloomfield, schools throughout the district have engaged in Anti-Bullying and awareness activities all week, as part of a year-long effort to make schools safer for students.
Patch writer Scott Egelberg discusses how his own personal experience with bullying changed his life.
Being bullied sucks. I knew it as a kid, I know it as an adult, it absolutely sucks to be bullied.
Growing up, I was the scrawny kid with glasses, buck teeth and a lisp. As easy a target as you could imagine. I can laugh about it now, especially after contacts, braces and packing on a few pounds, but back then, it wasn’t easy to be me.
One of my earliest memories as a kid in school was hiding on the playground because I just didn’t want to deal with the other children anymore. Looking back on it now, the thought of being called “beaver teeth” and “four eyes” seems silly, but as a seven-year-old, it was devastating.
Growing up, I used to act in certain ways because I wanted to be accepted. I tried to be the class clown, I tried to be the troublemaker, I even tried to be the kid in the back of the class who said nothing and was looking to hide. Nothing worked. The target on my back remained.
As an adult, I look at the way I act now and I start to think; maybe being bullied as a kid has affected me as an adult.
I like to volunteer for various organizations and causes. I want to help people. As a kid, I always felt like life was hopeless, like nobody but my family cared about me. I want to always help people so that they never feel the same way.
I can’t eat alone in public places, it just freaks me out. I also try and sit with anybody I see that is sitting alone. Perhaps I do this because of the time in middle school when I sat down at the lunch table and every other student at the table got up and moved. Who knows?
I introduce myself to every person at every job I work at. I try to meet everyone. I want everyone to know that they have at least one person to talk to. Could it be that I do that because of the times in recess when I’d sit alone wishing I had a friend to talk to? Possibly.
I get very paranoid when friends cancel plans with me or don’t call me back. I always feel like there is something happening that I am out of the loop with. Maybe it’s because of the time as a freshman in college when my entire floor pretended like a flag football game was cancelled just so I wouldn’t show up. (You read that right. Don’t think that people magically grow up in the two months between high school graduation and college.)
Life wasn’t all bad as a kid. I had two amazing parents that loved me dearly and I never thought otherwise. It was always comforting to come home to them.
I also had some incredible teachers that would see this little kid having a hard time and would come and help. Whenever a teacher said “Scott, you can always come to me if you are having a bad day and want to talk,” I would almost cry from happiness. It meant so much to me.
I like my life right now. I participate in various organizations, work at different jobs that I enjoy and have few regrets. I have a great family and friends that I trust. I am generally pleased with the way things worked out for me. I am also at peace with my treatment as a kid.
This week is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week, so I felt the need to share these experiences. I want kids who read this to know that it does get better. I would also like parents and teachers who read this to know how important you are to a kid being bullied. It does make a difference to have people in life you can talk to.
I hope Patch readers will participate in sharing your experiences and how bullying has affected you. You can leave a comment below or you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like me to post an anonymous comment on your behalf.
Bullying will never be eliminated. But it is important to always remember the experiences and to help those who are experiencing them today.