The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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A message to the bullied: it gets better

While packing my bedroom preparing to move this May, I watched a documentary on Lady Gaga. Her recount of being bullied in high school struck me to the core. As I stood in the middle of my bedroom with some random piece of clothing in my hand, I lived her pain and relived my own pain from high school. She talked about being put in a trash can by some boys she knew in high school. As she remembered, I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. That was years ago but the pain seemed so fresh. Those who are bullied are forever changed by the scars left behind even after graduation.

Even though Lady Gaga is a worldwide success, she has noted that she will always be affected by the bullying. In retrospect of my time in high school, I agree with her. I have friends, people that think I am awesome and love me for me, but there is still this dark part of me that feels like I will never be accepted. This part of me makes me feel awkward and misunderstood much like the girl I remember being in high school.

From my freshman year through the end of my junior year, I was picked on by the popular group of my high school. Many disliked me because I talked so differently from them. Girls would say, “You know you’re black right?” Others told me I was a disgrace to the African American race. I would have done anything short of selling my soul to fit in. I tried everything to make myself blend in to no avail. I loathed all the things that are so beautiful about my personality. I was so optimistic in high school. I loved writing poetry and could always articulate my opinions well. I am proud of those things now, but I did everything I could to hide those qualities when I was younger. There came a time, probably during my sophomore year, that I couldn’t bear being called ugly any more. I would eat lunch in the library and be silent in all of my classes. Still people that had never met me personally would tell others, “I hate that bitch!” The more criticism I received, the more I shrank into the hole of depression and invisibility.

I was different and misunderstood by so many of the students I spent time with every day. I still don’t understand why bullying was tolerated and is still tolerated in schools. Watching teachers hear the painful words others had to say and do nothing made me feel like they agreed with my bullies. Looking back, I know that almost all kids that don’t look or act like the majority get bullied. I know that my stories could help another kid who feels alone and hopeless. For this reason, I feel that high school is pain for a purpose. I only regret cowering instead of being proud of all the things that made me unique. “Just ignore them” was the advice my mother would give in middle-school when I would come home crying every single day. I had my poker-face perfected by graduation. Others would yell hateful things and I wouldn’t even flinch. But I felt like I was rotting from the inside out in school and that no one could help me. After years of being bullied, I grew too embarrassed to tell my family about it. I felt pathetic. Instead of fighting back or getting help, I was silent and invisible. I didn’t want anyone to know I existed. I didn’t want any recognition or attention. I just wanted to be treated as if I was not there. That is the hardest part of recounting my experiences.

Being bullied affected my success in school. Many of my teachers declined my request for a letter of recommendation. I never received a disciplinary referral in high school. I had a 3.0 GPA and I studied hard in school. I can’t speak for my teachers, but I feel that most of them knew very little about all the great qualities I housed. I think my attempts to be completely unnoticed affected the way my teachers perceived me as well. Thinking about those times makes me so sad. I didn’t stop being invisible until my sophomore year of college.

As a child, I could always speak well and did plenty of speeches in church and school. Adults would tell me how confident I was because I could speak publicly. I would laugh to myself at this ridiculous idea. I put on a smile and performed well but on the inside I was certain I was the ugliest most awkward girl in the room. Even for the first years of college, meeting new people and trying to make friends made me terribly nervous. I had such an immense fear that no one would like me. While at the University of Texas at Arlington, I had a popular friend that introduced me to all of her friends. I was so scared of saying something lame or stupid so most times I didn’t say anything. My popular friend would assure me that everyone liked me. But my own insecurities made me so uncomfortable that I didn’t make any friends. Eventually, other difficult circumstances led me to counseling where I fleshed out all of my fears, pains, and resentments. Now every day when I look in the mirror, I see myself slowly becoming the woman I want to be. Honestly, I still take it one day at a time. Some days are better than others but I am learning to love myself and never apologize for the unique things that make me Brittany.

So many kids are committing suicide because they see no way out. I want to do my part to let the weird and awkward kids like me know that life gets better. I don’t want kids to feel the way I did: ashamed. The biggest thing I would tell a kid being bullied is to hold your head up high. NEVER allow anyone to make you feel like you have no worth. Your worth is priceless and you are special and eventually you will find a group of people that accept you and love you. I’m living proof of this. I have friends and loved ones that accept me. Kids need to know that there is hope. Today I joined the “It Gets Better” campaign. I am determined to make a difference for kids struggling through high school. Otherwise all the pain I experienced would be in vain.

Brittany Dickey is a junior majoring in communication studies with a minor in humanities. She can be reached for comment at [email protected]

 

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