A good goal in life is to try and build yourself up to be a better person than you were the day before.
When I was in middle school, I was the victim of bullying. At first, while in year seven it was okay for me. I had my friends, who were there whenever I needed them. In the middle of year eight, going up to year nine, the bullying became more severe. I was not only bullied physically, but also socially.
My friends began to avoid me and I was truly alone, I had no one to talk to. I was bullied because I was different, an introvert and the only otaku – one who thoroughly loves Japanese anime and manga.
At some point, during the first semester of year nine, I decided I’d had enough. I was feeling unwanted, struggling when it came to group work. I’d always end up having to complete it by myself because I was so alone at that school. Even my best friend betrayed me and sided with my bullies.
I lost it all, my self-worth gone, my self-esteem shattered. Eventually, I began to believe what the outside world was telling me and I stopped loving myself for who I was – I was depressed.
My thoughts of transferring school were fuelled by the pressure of preparing for the Indonesian national exam, one year nine and year twelve students must take. Fortunately for me, I had one supporter at that school, my year nine homeroom teacher. She supported me, convinced me that it’s okay to be the best version of myself I possibly could. She gave me the strength to push through, to cope with the bullying and move forward with my life.
I did end up transferring schools after the misery of my year nine bullying experiences. Abdi Siswa Senior High School was the foundations of new friendships and the journey back to loving myself. In my senior years there I began making new friends, but I didn’t realise the true extent that bullying had on my social capabilities.
It changed my behaviour and made me even more introverted than I had been before. I couldn’t be open with my friends anymore, I closed myself off – however, I still managed to make some more supportive friendships that I could trust.
When I look back at those bullying experiences, they still feel fresh and the traumas are still there, for me at least. Even now the scars of bullying are still revealed in my introverted personality, but I’m learning to overcome that pain. I’m learning to be more open with my friends and I’m learning to accept myself for who I am. My love for myself is growing, because those bullying experiences shouldn’t stop me doing what I love.
If you’re being bullied, you can try to love yourself in a number of ways, these are some alternatives that helped me when I desperately needed them and they might help you too.
The first you should consider is the need to accept yourself. Sure there may be things about yourself that you don’t like, but that’s the same for everyone. You need to remind yourself on a regular basis that no one in the entire world is perfect, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be a better person. A good goal in life is to try and build yourself up to be a better person than you were the day before.
Your second step should be to speak some words of love to yourself. Positively affirm your loving and acceptance of you and your actions. A third and important action should be to seek support if you feel you need it – especially if you’re being bullied.
Just speaking to another person, or a counsellor, about the pain you’re experiencing is both cathartic and practical. Getting support is very important, those feelings of loneliness and being unwanted recede with time and human connection.
Bullying is a suffocating form of emotional turmoil. What I gained from my experiences of conversing with my mum and gaining that support from my homeroom teacher, have made me a stronger person since that period in my life.
Editor’s note – This article is a personal account of severe emotional trauma and is by no means a form of professional mental health advice for readers. If you need help with bullying or access to mental health resources, you can contact Monash Counselling Services for a free appointment.
Words by Levina Tabita
IG – @Via95_
Art by Lizy Gregory
IG – @lizy_design