Originally, I wanted to write this piece as a way to show support for the little brother of one of my best friends who is being bullied. He’s part of the nicest family and I wanted to help show him that all the best people get bullied and come out the other side still being amazing, so that he wouldn’t be jaded at such a young age.
The issue became much bigger for me recently, however, as I spoke to a few people at work – and experienced it myself first-hand. I’ve realised that bullying doesn’t end when school does. I decided that this should be a bigger deal; this shouldn’t be a closed off personal account, but a group therapy session, if you will, to make us all feel better, un-judged and united.
I want to address how we can stop ourselves from becoming changed people following these difficult circumstances, because seeing people becoming hardened by bullies so that they won’t appear weakened is difficult to see. I don’t want to see my friend’s little brother become a ‘tough guy’ to stop himself being a target and potentially alienate those close to him; and I don’t want to walk into work and be sassy or backchat anyone, because that’s not who I am at my core and I don’t want anyone to change me.
So, I’m at work; I’ve had to get up earlier and have had to walk instead of getting my usual lift; hence, I’m a bit more tired than usual. I’m asked if I can hoover a building, which is not my job. I politely ask ‘would you be able to do it, please?’ Of course they can’t, and I resign myself to the fact that I may as well just do it, as I am at work after all, and will be paid for it. When I’m done, I’m going back to my normal job, and over storms a supervisor (not my supervisor, I might add) and accuses me of being a problem. I’m genuinely in shock and when I voice this confusion, am told ‘don’t play dumb with me!’ because that’s obviously my character in a nutshell. Eventually the onslaught leads to accusations that I have come to work in an ‘unfit state’, that I am hung-over, that my ‘sweet demeanour isn’t fooling anyone’ and that I don’t know the meaning of hard work. (I would like to point out that I am preparing to write my 3rd year dissertation in the coming months.) She goes on to say that I treat this job as though it is a ‘holiday camp that I don’t take seriously’ despite having left my friends at university earlier than I needed to so that I could work for this company, just so that I can afford next year’s rent. I am then sent home after being reminded that this woman is twice my age, works double my hours and could sack me without losing a wink of sleep.
In my head I’ve become Tyra Banks. (‘YOU DON’T KNOW ME! YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT I’VE BEEN THROUGH TO GET FROM WHERE I WAS TO WHERE I AM TODAY!’ with a plethora of obscenities included for good measure.) However, the person that reported me is engaged to my boss, and being as I’m new, I recognised that the time to speak up was not then, and no good can come of reporting them, or the countless people that I see rushing through their jobs every day so that they can have a longer break. As it happens, the next day, the same supervisor tried to punish me by making me hoover for the whole day, so in essence, I was paid for listening to music for five hours. Silver linings, etc.
I’m trying not to let this experience jade me, I imagine it’s a fairly rare occurrence and I’m not going to let it stop me being nice to people, or going out of my way to help them. It’s the first encounter I’ve had with bullying since secondary school and I’m just a little bit shocked by it. I admit that I no longer respect this supervisor or the person who reported me, as I think they both handled their side of the situation in entirely the wrong way and were actually quite vicious in their attacks on me.
By the end of this, I know I will be the same positive person, acting the way I always have and not show any negativity to either of the people who have singled me out. I will simply take the money I have earned and move back to London where I am surrounded by positive people. Then I will finish my degree and they will continue to work for ten hours a day, at minimum wage aged forty; and we’ll both be happy with our life choices.
I’ve shared some of my experience and touched on the ways that I’ll go about making sure I come out the other side just as much myself as I was when I walked into the building for the first time. As I mentioned before, I want this to be interactive, and that’s where the ‘group therapy’ part of this comes in – share your experiences on Facebook, Twitter, or even in the comments on here. If our little group can show one another that we’re all still beautiful people, then we can stay beautiful and not allow bullies to influence our outlook on life. My story might seem insignificant to yours; yours might seem like nothing to someone else – but if it’s affected us, then it’s important and it matters, and sharing could cheer us all up, so, let’s do that.
(Special thanks to Laura Brown)