Hello, my name is Ed and I’d like to share with you a story from my past about dealing with bullies.
When I was in the 6th grade, I had a bully named Dave who would put me down and pick on me every chance he got. He was particularly good at saving his biggest insults for when there were as many other students around as possible.
That of course only compounded the hurt and humiliation that Dave had become so adept at hurling my way. Until one day something changed.
Know thy enemy
My parents knew that I had been getting picked on. They also happened to know Dave’s parents.
As it turns out, Dave’s home life wasn’t all that great and my parents assured me that he wasn’t focused on me because of any issue he had with me, but because I presented an easy target for him to turn his frustration out on.
Of course, I didn’t think that fact was helpful to me at all. It’s not like I could change the way he was being raised. It took me a little while to figure out, but I realized that while I couldn’t change the cause of his bullying, I could change myself so I wouldn’t be such an easy target.
Finding the strength
One afternoon as class was letting out for the day, I found myself alone with Dave in the classroom. I frantically tried to gather my things and slip out the door before he noticed this too, but to no avail.
He began walking over to me.
Afraid of what he would do with no one around to help me, I knew this was my time to change his perception of me or face a potential beatdown. As he approached, I stood up and before he had the chance to say anything I took the initiative and finally confronted my bully.
In a firm, loud voice I asked him what exactly it was about me that made him choose me as his target. I still remember what I said.
“Is it because I’m short? Sorry, but I can’t control that. I don’t wear glasses so that can’t be it. What is it? Why do you pick on me?”
And for the first time, he turned around and walked away without a word.
What I learned
It took me a while to realize but appearances truly can help or hurt your cause. There was nothing I could do about being shorter than my classmates but standing up, speaking assertively and having a preplanned practiced response put my bully on his heals.
Dave never bothered me again and I learned a lesson that holds true regardless of age; if you don’t want to be a victim, don’t look like one.