I went to walk in the forest yesterday. And unfortunately, I met some bullies.
At the entrance of the trail I walk on, there is a low concrete water cistern. Some teenage boys were sitting on it as I passed by it. There is also a small creek I have to cross over right past the cistern. For some reason, as I was crossing over the creek, I looked back at the boys, and I saw that one of them was video recording me secretly as I was crossing over the creek.
Now, I would like to give the kid the benefit of the doubt—like maybe he was thinking, “Here is this lovely woman in her Land’s End parka, looking strong and joyful about going on a walk in the forest. Let’s capture this moment.” Unfortunately, in my experience, that is not how situations like this play out.
When I saw what he was doing, I gave him my best evil eye and said, “Really?” He put his camera away, and I headed down the trail. Like a lot of people, I experienced some painful bullying instances when I was younger, and I still often feel paralyzed when things like this happen. I have occasionally been bullied in my adult life as well, and I am still learning to stand up for myself. I often feel really afraid.
As I was walking away from the kid, headed down the trail, I absolutely started to feel powerless and afraid. I could think of all sorts of frightening and unpleasant reasons he was recording me.
“Oh hell no,” I thought to myself. “I will not let this disempower me.” So, I marched back down the trail towards the cistern, and I took pictures of the kids, as well as the house they were likely from and sent them to my husband just in case.This made me feel a lot better.
In the past when I was bullied, I always thought it was something wrong with me–like my hair or clothes were too weird or I was too thin or too voluptuous or something else. But the weird thing about bullying is that I have been bullied when I was thin, when I was voluptuous (and every stage in between), when I wore stylish clothes, when I wore plain clothes, when my hair looked great, and when it looked wild.
That’s because bullying is never about me or you. It’s about people being bored, feeling gross about themselves, having a really distorted view of themselves, having no purpose in life—and they take it out on people.
I wanted to write this post to help me with my continual fear of bullies, but I also wanted to write it because I know I am not alone in being afraid of bullies or alone in having suffered from them. So, I just wanted to say, you are not alone, and you can take your power back.
I also am really proud of myself because for the last six or seven years, I have been working really hard on learning to love myself, to have my own back, and to stick up for myself. Yesterday, I realized that work has really payed off. Before, this incident would have devastated me, and I would have spent the whole week wondering what was wrong with me. Yesterday, I realized clearly that the action of those boys had nothing to do with me, and I had nothing to be ashamed of. (You can read more about sticking up for yourself here and here.)
I am so proud of how I have grown and become a stronger person.
And also, too bad these kids didn’t get a picture of my hair yesterday because it looked really good.