Do you know how young someone can be when they start to contemplate harmful thoughts, such as suicide? For me, I was 10 years old. I was bullied at school so badly that I would cry every day, and be scared from the minute the bell rang to the time I got home. When you are just an innocent kid, other children calling you names, spitting on you, and teasing you seems like the end of the world. I remember saying to myself that I never wanted to feel so powerless ever again.
When I reached high school, I was obsessed with becoming popular and knowing the "right" people so that I would never be picked on again. I did just that, and started to hang out with people from outside of my school who were part of really bad crowds. I associated myself with people who intimidated others and felt a sense of "empowerment" because I seemed to be respected, albeit, for the wrong reasons.
I made some bad decisions, hung out with people I shouldn't have, saw things I shouldn't have, and grew up quickly. By age 21, two of my friends had been murdered. I finally came to my senses and realized that while I may have thought that I was invincible, I couldn't imagine what my family would go through if something ever happened to me because of the circle I was associating myself with. I realized that intimidation, sexuality, growing up at warp speed -- these things did not give me empowerment or meaning. It was an empty facade that was fed by other empty, lost beings also searching for their place in life.
And while many people likely judged me along the way, I recognize that I was just a scared little girl, wanting to fit in, looking to be accepted and wanting the one thing we're all after: love.
I've learned that everyone has a story. Those who act tough, those who act like they're invincible, those who are cruel to others. Everyone has a story. People who inflict pain on others -- that root comes from somewhere. People who put up an image -- there's a reason for that. The easiest thing to do is to pass judgment, maybe even ridicule, but as human beings, with so much hate already out there, I think the one thing we really can do to contribute to this world is to play nice.
I saw a website recently, where the fundamental premise is to defame and insult people. My heart fell when I saw it. Has it really come to this? Do adults really think that if it's anonymous and online, that suddenly it's okay to go back to the immaturity of grade school and bully others? These are real people, who have real feelings, insecurities and fears just like the rest of us. The minute you stoop to that level, you have just contributed to more hate and ugliness to our world.
I apologize if it sounds like I'm going on a rant or if I'm preaching. I just know how it feels to be bullied, teased and made fun of. That hurt almost caused me to have thoughts of suicide at the age of 10, and just because we are older now, it doesn't mean that such cruel words may not have such an affect on someone.
As my friend SK told me, "We're all after the same thing: love and acceptance." It's true. We're on the same team guys. Let's try to play nice.