Bullying – Changed, but Not Gone
Posted by Meg Thompson on April 3, 2012 at 1:13 PM
We’ve all heard the headlines and read the stories. Bullying is a real problem and it isn’t the way it used to be. It’s not a matter of shoving you into a locker or calling you a loser; it’s far worse. And it’s no longer the stranger, the “toughest” kid in the class calling you out; it’s the people closest to you. Bullying has evolved and not for the better. As we grow up, it’s gotten personal and it’s starting to hurt far worse.
I know what you’re saying. I’m in my twenties. I thought I’d escaped bullying when I left high school. But the truth is, you probably haven’t – it’s stayed with me, and my friends, and it’s more real than ever. As hard as bullying may be, it’s easier to ignore it when the individual means nothing to you. Sure, when some troll posts something rude on your Tumblr, the words hurt and you secretly wonder if what they’re saying is actually true. And then, you get over it. But there’s nothing worse than having someone you once trusted turn on you. When someone whose opinion used to matter becomes your worst enemy, your biggest fear. I call these “subversive bullies,” and they’re the ones you need to watch for.
Friends – They’re great. They’re there when you need them. But sometimes, we have toxic friends that we’d be better off without. They sabotage you when you least expect it. In hindsight though, you realize that their true colors were actually quite apparent. They’ll tell you to wear something they never would, they’re never happy for you, they’re in constant competition with you, and they’re jealous of your success. These aren’t the friends you want. They’ll bring you down in much the same way a bully would, but it’ll feel worse. When you realize that a friend isn’t actually a friend after all, it’s earth-shattering.
How to Deal: Break up with her. You don’t need this fake friend in your life, and constant competition and negativity will only wear you down and make you feel awful. So simply tell her that you can’t be friends anymore and stick to it – block her on your News Feed, stop answering calls. Treat it like a real breakup!
Field-Sharers – Networking is key to getting where you want to be. We connect with people who have similar majors, interests, or careers so we can bounce ideas off one another and help each other land internships, jobs, and other opportunities. But this is a sh*tty economy and sometimes, people will do anything they can to get ahead. Anything meaning bullying. They’ll sabotage your opportunity to hold a spot on a professional club’s executive board, they’ll make you feel like your work isn’t good enough, and some will even out-do you in any way they know how. You have one internship? They’ll get two. You hold an editorial position? They’ll try and scoot you out of it. You have to watch who you trust – not everyone wants to see you succeed.
How to Deal: Ignore it. Do the best job you possibly can and get ahead on your own merit. Build relationships with your other co-workers and find someone you can trust to be your advocate. Be assertive and ask for what you want. Success built on your own hard work and merit is the best kind of revenge when dealing with this subversive bully.
Ex-Boyfriends – Breakups are messy; that’s granted. Often, you’ll have a tough time getting over it, but you’ll go your separate ways and you’ll move on. But other times, exes will refuse to let you move on. Not in the sense of trying to get you back, but keeping themselves present in your life at whatever opportunity they have. When you’ve given your everything to someone, you don’t expect that they’ll ever come back and make you feel worthless, especially after you broke up! What’s even worse? This person knows you better than many others do so when they attack you, they know exactly how to get to your core.
How to Deal: Do whatever necessary to cut him out. Get a new cell number. Move. If you feel threatened, get a restraining order. Seriously. It may seem drastic, but you have to stand up for yourself and break away from this type of emotional abuse.
Though bullying has changed, one thing will always remain the same – the attacker is a coward. They’re afraid of themselves, their own potential, so they weigh you down in order to bring themselves up.
In those moments, it’s nearly impossible to look inside of yourself and project the confidence you’ve worked so hard to gain. It’s hard to see yourself as better than them because they’re doing everything they can to prevent that. But once the sting is over, once it’s subsided, it’s imperative that you remind yourself why they attacked you in the first place, why they felt it necessary to bring you down. Hint: It’s because you’re awesome.
And once you’ve figured out the reasons why, where they’re coming from, and who’s taking it upon themselves to make you feel insignificant, cut them out of your life for good. As any public service announcement would tell you, it gets better. Never let a bully get to your center and shake you until you hit rock bottom. Be attuned to their intentions and let them know how strong you are from the get-go.
No one deserves to be pushed into the ground – especially not you, my fabulous, twenty-something gal.