If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you and I probably have a whole lot in common.
Do you feel like no matter what you do or how hard you try, you just never fit in? Do the popular kids tease and laugh at you? Do you dread riding the school bus because you know the moment you step inside, someone is going to blow a spitball in your hair, or call you mean names before you even sit down? Do you find yourself wanting the cool kids to leave you alone, yet secretly longing for their friendship and acceptance?
I know exactly what you’re going through. From 5th grade through senior year of high school, I was tormented at school too, just for being different. I tried really hard to fit in, but I couldn’t do the things you have to do to be considered cool.
I was so lonely that, every morning I would pray to God to make me sick so that I could be absent. In my memoir Please Stop Laughing at Me…, I share the details of what I went through and how I survived. If you’d like to read more about the book, you can download a chapter here.
Now, let’s talk about your current situation at school and what we can do about it.
Below is some specific advice excerpted from Please Stop Laughing at Us… the sequel to my memoir; Please Stop Laughing At Me:
- If you’re being digitally or cyber-bullied, take screenshots of everything and ask your parents to help you keep a file. If you’re being bullied more traditionally, like name-calling or exclusion, write it down. Keep notes. Writing it all down will help you feel better and it will also be useful for everyone involved, including the school.
- Never ignore the bully and walk away. Look them in the eye and tell them to stop. Then tell an adult at school what happened. You can start the conversation like this: “I’m telling you this not because I want to get this person into trouble, but because I think they may be in trouble inside already and need help.” Then, simply tell the adult what happened and ask them to help the bully so they will stop hurting you and others. Lead with truth and compassion.
- Turn to an adult you trust for support and ask for help.
- School doesn’t have to be your whole world even though it may sometimes feel that way. Seek an alternative social outlet through the local park district, community center, or public library. Call or visit these organizations online and research what youth activities they have available. It’s important, however, that you reach out to organizations that are one town away from where you attend school, because the purpose is for you to make friends with kids outside of your school network who will have no preconceptions about you.
- If you see someone being bullied and don’t want to be a bystander, you have two options. Intercede on the victim’s behalf and tell the bullies to stop, or speak directly to the victim and say, “I’ve got something important to tell you.” Then, simply pull the victim away from the bullies and make an effort to become that person’s friend.
- Always remember that bullying isn’t just the mean things we do, it’s also the nice things we never do. Letting someone walk to class alone or sit by themselves at lunch, excluding the same person repeatedly from parties and other social activities, choosing the same student last whenever you divide into teams in class or gym, are also bullying and deeply hurtful. They can make someone think there’s something wrong with them, and they can carry that false belief for a very long time.
- If you see a classmate struggling to fit in or being maligned, tell a teacher or counselor. It could change this person’s life.
- Tattling hurts, telling helps. Bullying may feel like an act of hatred but it’s not. If someone is bullying you, no matter what form of bullying it may be, it’s not because that person doesn’t like you. It’s because something else in that person’s life is out of control and causing them great pain, something no one may know about, and they’re bringing all that fear, anger and negativity to school. Bullying is actually a cry for help. That’s why it’s so critical that you tell on the bully. Tattling hurts because it’s just about getting revenge, getting that bully into trouble, and that’s not cool. Telling is something else entirely. Telling is when you tell on a bully because you want everyone to receive the help they need—–the bully who’s struggling with something painful in his or her life, and whomever that bully is hurting, whether it’s you or someone else. Telling not only saves the lives of bullying victims but, can also save the life of a bully.
- Don’t be afraid of professional help. If your parents want you to see a psychologist or counselor, ask if they would attend the first few sessions with you—-explain that it will make you more comfortable because you’ll feel like you’re dealing with the circumstance as a family and not “you as the problem.” One tip: -be honest with everyone, including yourself, and you will find the experience very worthwhile.
- Pay attention to other classmates who may be experiencing some of the same loneliness and rejection you are and reach out to them in friendship. You could end up forging bonds that will last a lifetime.
I would be honored by an opportunity to come and speak at your school. Please show this site, or my book to your teacher or principal, send your school contact information to my office and we’ll get in touch with the principal. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And remember, you are never, ever alone. I’m here. We got this.