This is a story that I am not particularly proud of to recall but I think it is a good idea to share. I was a bully in my secondary school day and used to torment this particular girl in class on a daily basis. The bullying revolves around name-calling, talking bad about her within earshot, throwing her stuff and there was once I even emptied the chalk dust collector onto her head.
In short, really terrible things that I am not proud of. What caused me to pick on her in particular? I mean she was only this tiny girl struggling with skin problems but mostly minded her own business.
The fact that my classmates did nothing to stop me only emboldened me. I would not go as far to say that we were all complicit, but as I look back at it now, I wished there was somebody who stood up to stop me.
We were 14 when I started bullying her and it has been more than two decades since (I am now in my late 30s) and I can’t say for sure why I did the things I did. The thing is, I was a rather well-adjusted kid growing up. I had an average family, live in an average house and had average grades. Perhaps I did those things to become less average?
After all, our memory is not perfect and I have given myself various justifications during my teenage and young adult years to account for my action. The truth is, what went through my mind when I started bullying her was lost through time. What is not lost is the guilt I have felt all these years.
The fact that I bullied for no particular reason is a warning that you do not have to be misadjusted in life to become a bully. I did it partly because I could get away from it and my peers seemed to support what I do. That was all I needed to get into my teenage head that everything was fine.
I know there were times where I felt a hint of pity for her but I could not stop. She was so meek and in a way “asking for it”. Would my bullying have stopped if she stood up for herself? That was the question I have been asking myself during my early 20s, but I never had an answer for.
I wished I could go back in time and smack myself in the head for even thinking of bullying another person.
After graduation we all went off to different paths in our lives and I have not seen her since. I have never said sorry to her and I wished I had.
There is of course the easier solution of looking for her specifically to extend my apology to at least do the right thing as an adult, but I have never gotten round to it. I am so ashamed of myself that I figured I should just let sleeping dog lie. As I’ve already said, I am a coward through and through.
Please understand that I am not excusing myself, nor am I trying to claim that I was a victim. My actions were despicable and entirely my fault. However, there were also times where I felt miserable for my own actions, but I couldn’t stop even if it made me sad. Bullying her has become a part of my identity in school.
And this is the real lesson that I wish to share with bullies or would-be bullies. We are responsible for the mistakes we make but do not for an instant think that you can keep your emotions and guilt in check as you leave the past behind. You are unlikely to succeed and it will consume you.
Like an ugly monster that we nurture every day, sooner or later it will return to bite us. There is no bravery and no reward for bullying, only endless punishments and guilt.
Let’s stop bullying dead in its tracks. Do not let regrets and guilt consume you.