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Hartselle Enquirer

Don’t let the bully win

Bullying comes in all shapes, sizes and ages.

When someone says “bully” your mind might quickly picture the bigger kid on the playground taking the lunch money from the small, nerdy kid in class.

My mind doesn’t go to that scenario.

Sadly, I think of the louder person in the workplace. The person that constantly needs attention and shuts down ideas of those who are more meek or reserved.

I think of the girl or guy in the gym that quietly makes fun of the newer gym member or overweight person looking to learn how to workout for the first time.

I think of the person who has to be in charge of every PTA group the school offers to ensure that her child gets the most attention or recognition, even if it’s not deserved.

I think of the pretty, popular girl, or handsome guy in class. The one who isn’t necessarily the smartest, or even the greatest athlete, but constantly feels to need to seem better than the next girl or guy.

Are you picturing these people with me? Have you ever been this person?

I rack my brain, sometimes too much, in hoping that I don’t make other people feel inferior with my choice of words and actions.

In middle school and high school, I was ‘friends’ with that pretty, popular bully, and often became the victim because I let her take advantage of my kindness, which she often mistook as weakness.

In college, I felt enough was enough and I would no longer be anyone’s doormat. I found myself with an opinion, a backbone and a willingness to no longer be ran over by those non-stop bullies out there. Yet, I ran into female teachers who wanted to be the bully in the room. Teachers that would pick their favorites and hang others out to dry in the process, teachers that I once trusted to help guide me and be a light and a leader.

I cried. I fought to do well, and I often failed.

One day, I was brought to the side by another employee at the University and asked why I let mean, disheartening people get under my skin so. I told her,  “I just want everyone to treat me like I treat them.” She reassured me, that unfortunately, for the rest of my life, I was going to run into women, in every form, at every age, and in every place, who are cold. She reminded me that those people have struggles with themselves, and the struggle is not with me.

“People who love themselves don’t hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer.”

She shared with me, in the nicest way, that I needed to form thicker skin and be prepared to deal with it, as unfortunate as it was. She told me that no matter where I ended up in life, in every workplace, there would be the person that fit the category of a bully to a “T.” She spoke the truth. I have yet to find myself in a time period of my life without there being a person in it who didn’t attempt to run over the kind person of the group.

Many bullies hide behind their computer screen, as what I like to call “keyboard ninjas” and bully people through social media. Other bullies are those that work next to you and you see their desks everyday. Some bullies are the ones who call you, needing help or needing you to do something for them at the drop of a hat, with an expectation that you will do it, and a bad attitude if you can’t.

Guess what? You don’t have to let the bully win. Bullies get satisfaction from your pain, from your loss, and they believe it’s their gain.

Keeping a smile when you’re hurting doesn’t mean, you’re faking, or even that you’re strong, but as my mother said, it lets others wonder what you’re up to.

A piece of advice for the fellow bully victims out there-don’t be one. Don’t give in and let people run you over. Stand your ground and be firm about the way you will be treated. Remain kind, and don’t lose sight of who you are simply because some tries to make you question it.

Advice to the bullies- stop being one. Putting someone down about being overweight doesn’t make you any skinner. Telling someone their work proposal isn’t good won’t make yours any better, and calling someone weak doesn’t make you stronger.

Building each other up shouldn’t be like pulling teeth. You should want to see your co-workers succeed-it makes the business grow. You should want to see your students shine, it makes your teaching skills look pristine. You should want to see your friend do well, because in the long run, it’s that friend that you will be able to count on.

I’ve definitely been made stronger over the years because of obstacles- so I want to thank some of the bullies who allowed me to find myself amongst the constant self-esteem battles.

“When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper; They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.”

Lauren Estes is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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