On Being Bullied

When I was younger, I was teased. A lot. With a seemingly extra long ugly duckling phase, I went through middle school with the typical “nerd” look (although I was a champ in avoiding anything remotely related to overalls): thick-rimmed glasses, blue-wired braces, a lack of any fashion sense – I was hot stuff. And despite the fact that I was not all that aesthetically pleasing, I still had good friends. Great friends – some that I’m still friends with to this day. But I also endured name calling, the popular clique posing as my so called friends – I even had a “burn book” passed around the school, where kids (even some of my friends) were pressured by those so called friends of mine to compose mean things about me. Side note, this “burn book” was created prior to Mean Girls so I can’t even attribute these girls’ cruelty to that film. And because I was teased and bullied mainly by the girls who thought they were, and always would be, superior to me as far as looks go, I only kept a few girl friends growing up, and mainly surrounded myself with guy friends. That’s a trend that has stayed with me into adulthood – I have a handful of very close girl friends, but in general, I tend to get along better with the male species. Until this past week, that is.

As you know from my previous post, I am currently living the high life in D.C. And while I will let you all in on the highlights of this trip, there sadly has been some lowlights.

I discovered this week that even adults participating in an MBA program can let their most immature sides shine. And clearly they’re not afraid to do so. In fact, this week proved to be a slightly deja vu episode of my middle school years.

In a nutshell, I decided to befriend a group of people that happened to be particularly cliquish (in my defense, I had no idea these group of individuals behaved in this fashion as I signed up for this trip not knowing anyone attending. The things I do for the love of politics and the press). And this clique ended up being absurdly childish – so much so that I could not believe that these not-so-adult adults were business professionals, and some were married with kids. You sure are demonstrating a great model for your daughters, aren’t you gentlemen? Ah yes, did I mention that these assholes individuals happened to be men?

Anyway, back to the story – the bullying began a couple of nights ago. A bunch of us had gone out to a local bar in downtown D.C. (even though I’m pretty sure a majority – if not all – of D.C. is downtown), and after a mere two drinks, these men decided to target me. To be fair, they gradually eased into their cruelty, and then decided to ramp it up. Thanks for the consideration, dick douches. From rambling on for about 30 minutes on how tired I always seem to look and the fact that I always appear to be sleeping in meetings (no, my head is down because I am taking notes, you morons, which is more than I can say for yourselves) to the fact that I look like a “young, lost undergrad” (sorry that I rarely wear makeup and that I have always had a “baby” face –my future husband won’t be complaining when I’m 50), enough was enough. And this teasing continued even into this evening, in which I found out in the middle of our tour of the national monuments that these gentlemen had decided to take pictures of me on their phones (during our daily meetings, and without me knowing, and then show them to other students on our trip) as some sort of case study to document the fact that I look weird and tired. And while they literally gathered around and laughed at me, I would not let them see me break. But I did eventually break down as soon as I entered my hotel room. I cried, called my mother, texted my boyfriend – I felt (and still currently feel) like absolute shit. I had done nothing to these guys, except be nice and try to get to know them all week. In the past two hours, I have gone from angry to sad to angry, and back to sad again.

This is not me trying to make myself sound better, but I really do strive to be as nice as I can to everyone I meet. I don’t really have an inclination to treat people as if they are inferior to me. In fact, I don’t think many people do. So again, I am completely clueless as to why these men are behaving in this fashion. And it appalls me that a couple of these guys have young daughters – all I want to ask them is how would they feel if they knew some other men treated their daughters this way once they had matured (or not) into adults. Because let me tell you, my own father had some choice words for these people. Judge me all you want – I’m one of those people that are pretty close to their parents. Maybe part of this post is to vent, maybe it’s because I’m still in disbelief in regards to their actions – who knows? Either way, I thought I had left bullying back in my childhood. But clearly it decided to rear it’s ugly head again tonight.

The fortunate thing is, I will get over this. These guys mean absolutely nothing to me. Do I feel badly for their wives? Of course, but I’m assuming their wives don’t know of their husbands’ nasty natures. Do I want to yell at them? Definitely. Do I want some sort of revenge? Sadly, yes. But I won’t do any of those things – I refuse to sink down to their level, and I sure as hell will not let them see me down and out.

The unfortunate thing is how unaware most of us are when it comes to adult bullying. We see documentaries and hear news stories about children bullying other children and the impact it has, but what about as we get older? Even as we mature physically, we don’t always mature emotionally. At five years old, if a boy makes a girl cry (or vice versa), he is not necessarily evil or mean or cruel, he simply does not know any better. When a 35-year-old man (or woman) makes a 24-year-old woman (or man) feel inferior, then he’s just a prick (or she’s just a bitch). When you reach a certain age, you run out of excuses to behave a certain way.

Bullying alone leads to thousands of suicides each year – deaths that could be prevented if only people would strive to be kinder to one another. According to Yale University, men and women that are bullied are up to nine times likelier to contemplate suicide. And while bullying during our youth years tends to be more physical, adult bullying normally comes in the form of verbal abuse – mainly in the form of humiliation (clearly these guys aren’t that creative – they went straight up textbook on me – literally). In terms of adult bullying, there tend to be five types: the Narcissistic Bully, the Impulsive Bully, the Physical Bully (slightly rarer), the Verbal Bully, and the Secondary Bully. True to form, these men are the Webster’s dictionary definition of the Verbal Bully – they use demeaning language to make me feel inferior.

But not everyone is capable of letting these incidents go, and that is in no way their own fault. Everyone reacts to situations definitely, and for myself, I am confident enough to know that while I’m no Mila Kunis, I am far from weird looking. And no, I do not constantly look like some sort of zombie woman. So maybe this post isn’t about my need to vent or my pure disbelief at all, maybe it’s my face of giving a voice to the voiceless. If anything, my hope is that someone will read this, and might be able to relate in some way, shape, or form. If you’re the bully, maybe you’ll see what your actions do to the victims, and maybe you’ll think twice next time before you act a certain way. And if you’re the bullied, know that another’s actions should hold no power over you. The only person that can empower yourself is you, and the only person that can diminish you is you. Voice or no voice, that will always remain true.

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