Let's Talk About Bullying Prevention

**original post alert**

The reality of the image below breaks my heart, but it can be so true. And we need to talk about #bullyingprevention

image source: PostSecret

True story: When I was in 8th grade, I was terribly bullied. I didn't fit in, I wasn't cool, and I made the epic mistake (sarcasm font) of sticking up for other kids who were bullied. Thus, I became a target for other kids to punch down on so they could try to raise themselves up. Being bullied was so hard. I was afraid to go to school and was miserable at school. I cried most times on the way home. Being bullied makes you feel alone and like you don't matter. I never want anyone to feel that way and I work hard in my current job to help kids and schools overcome bullying as a systemic problem.

At one point during the year when things were really bad, my dad asked me if I felt that it was worth it to play the game that the "cool" kids were playing to see if I could move away from being made an outsider. They were mean and being mean was "cool;" logically, if I was mean too, I might become more valued. Could I do it? I certainly had anger towards those kids. I certainly would've felt justified in doing so; they tried to ruin my life, after all. It is better to be an insider than an outsider, right?

I thought about it and then I said to my dad, "I don't want to be like them. I'm not mean enough to be cool and I don't want to be." I didn't' know it then, but I had just established one of my lifelong mantras.

Incidentally, my dad is also a psychologist and he has told me that he has helped many kids over the years with that perspective. If being in the in-crowd requires to sell out something vital about yourself, then it is far better to maintain your values and put that energy into finding people that get you for being you.

Ultimately, I found my people and learned how to trust myself and others again. It was hard as hell and there were many sleepless and tearful nights, but I came through the other side. If you've been bullied, I hope that you did as well. If you're being bullied, I can promise you that things can get better and there's no shame in asking for help.

Bullying sucks. I wish I could make it go away. But until we can, you're not alone. You have people out there (myself included) who see you and see your value, no cruelty required. You're good enough as you are.

#drmatt #antibully #upstander

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