Dear me at 13:
Your parents have always told you to turn the other cheek. Take the high road. Be the bigger person.
I mean, with all due respect…
They mean well, but your parents don’t know what they’re talking about on this one. You are dealing with a full-blown, raging hormones, 13-year-old psycho hose beast situation.
Just the sound of her name sends shivers up your spine. When you see her walking toward you in the hallway you feel like cramming yourself sideways into your locker and shutting the door. When she’s not calling you names to your face, she’s saying goodness knows what behind your back.
You don’t know why she picked you as her target. You never will. She probably doesn’t even know. What she does know is that she has made you cry on at least three occasions in front of your classmates. The other hundred million times- well, we’ll just keep those between us.
You like school. You’re good at it. It comes naturally to you. You get straight A’s and you’re always on the honor roll. You used to look forward to your studies. Now the sight of those heavy iron doors makes you want to run screaming back to your mom’s dodge caravan.
Let me tell you some things about bullies:
They don’t like themselves. That is why they’re mean to other people. People who don’t like themselves are mean to people who threaten their tenuous sense of self-worth. You are smart, sweet, kind, naive, optimistic… All the things that threaten mean people the most. People who like themselves aren’t mean like that. Ever.
Bullies can smell you coming from a mile away. They know your type: sensitive, desperate for acceptance, and too slow to come up with something snappy to say in retaliation. They like the fact that they can get a rise out of you, and they think that you’ll allow them to push you around.
If you didn’t allow it, they wouldn’t push you around.
Here is some big, big news: You tell people how you want to be treated. You create the rules for your interactions. You dictate what you will and will not accept as respectful behavior. Each time you allow someone to walk all over you, you tell them that it’s alright for them to do it again. Your acquiescence begs for a repeat of the behavior.
Here is the unfortunate thing: Bullies will follow you around all your life. They will seek you out and try to rain on your parade regardless of your whereabouts. Bully-moms will seek you out at playgroup. Bully seniors will probably seek you out at the old folk’s home.
“Well that’s pretty depressing. What am I supposed to do? Lock myself in my parent’s basement with a crate of cheetos and watch Degrassi reruns my whole life?” you might ask.
The solution to your problem is twofold:
1) Stand up for yourself. Go for the jugular. It might feel weird at first, but rest assured, Amanda S. won’t ever bother you again if you look her in the eyes and say “Are you mean because you’re fat, or because your parents don’t love you? Just wondering”.
2) You need to change your reaction to the bullying. This is more than just “acting tough” when it happens. This is about “being tough”. Who cares what Amanda S. thinks about you? She might be popular at Windfields Junior High, but she’s not very bright, she’s about 30 pounds overweight, and she has eyebrows like gnarled pubic hair. She is a miserable person. And the bottom line is that all her animosity has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with her. Don’t let it get you down! Don’t let it hurt your feelings. Don’t allow it to take over your day, and certainly don’t allow it to taint your opinion of yourself. You are awesome, and that’s why she’s bullying you anyway.
So go back to school holding your head high. Focus on your studies. That’s why you’re there in the first place, remember? And the next time you see Amanda S.- in the hallway or otherwise- don’t be tempted to take up permanent residence in your locker. Just look up into those massive eyebrows, meet her head on, and remember our chat.