‘I don’t blame the people that bullied me’: Anjana’s story
When I think back to my school days, I always try and remember the positives. Sadly, I can’t recall many.
Bullying (definition): Repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to another person’s body, emotions, self-esteem or reputation.
It began in primary school. I didn’t even know there was a word for it back then. Of course, I could recognise when someone was not being very nice to me, but I didn’t really understand what ‘bullying’ was.
I was called a lot of things; fat, ugly, not a ‘real girl’. I was often referred to as a ‘he’ even though I made it very clear my chosen pronoun was ‘she’. As well as the names, some people would laugh at me and some would go a step further – I had water poured over my school work repeatedly. When I asked teachers for help, they told me to ‘stop being so sensitive and toughen up’ and my supposed ‘best friend’ told me I should try my hardest to ‘fit in’. He said the reason I attracted so much unwanted attention, was because I was ‘different’.
Different how? Well, I didn’t dress like other girls and I didn’t consider pink to be my favourite colour. At that young age, neither my best friend, the bullies or even myself had realised why they really considered me different. I wouldn’t realise until I had my first girlfriend…
When people found out I was gay, the taunts evolved into death threats and the water that was once thrown over my school work, was replaced with nails on the seat of my school chair. It escalated so quickly and got so wildly out of control, that I didn’t know how to cope. I dreaded every school day, and would often skip class to save myself from the torment. It was an incredibly painful time. My friends felt outnumbered and scared too. They kept asking me why I made life hard for myself, and why I couldn’t just be normal and fit in like everybody else.
I felt so alone. Even though I was lucky enough to have been blessed with an incredibly supportive mother, who had always been, and would always be there for me, it took me a long time to realise there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
I used to think it was my fault; I would blame myself for not ‘fitting’ the stereotype and for standing out for all the ‘wrong’ reasons. I used to wish I was invisible. Now I realise how wrong I was. I don’t blame the people that bullied me. I don’t blame them for their ignorant behaviour and homophobic views. I blame their parents for not educating them to respect others, regardless of their sexuality, race, gender or religion.
I think everyone is beautiful just the way they are. Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are, or who you love. Don’t let people try to change you – you are who you are – embrace that. One piece of advice that I wish I could have given my younger self is this:
‘There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s a lot wrong with the world we live in.’
Don’t give up.
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