ebrooke asks: I am in high school. A big group of bullies say mean things behind my back. I don’t know why but I think it’s because a) I look anorexic (I’m not); b) I sound American and people say mean things about that; c) I am friends with all the boys except the mean ones; and d) I have good grades (I don’t think that’s bad though). One day they called me and my friends nerds and a called them a mean thing back and then they kept on saying mean things and so did I. I feel guilty and if I say anything, they won’t stop and they can tell on me too. What can I do?
Hi ebrooke –
Okay, first of all, I have a couple of pieces on Bullying, on this site. Just go to the Search Box on your right, and type in Bullying or Bullies – you should find them.
But then I want to point something out to you about bullies. The best of them, the really talented ones, are brilliant at making people feel bad about themselves, even for their best qualities. Said with enough scorn, “You’re a beautiful genius” can be an insult! You have here listed four things that these jerks insult you for – and not one of them is a bad thing!
a) You look anorexic, but you’re not. Okay, I’m going to guess that what this really means is that you’re quite thin. Like, hmmm… a supermodel? Like Taylor Swift? Like Angelina Jolie? Like a lot of women that most women want to look like?! I am a strong believer that women should appreciate their own bodies, and not hurt themselves trying to get too skinny – but hey if you’re that way naturally, enjoy it!
b) You sound American. Like those same women I mentioned above? Like Katy Perry? Like Beyonce? I love all sorts of accents, and don’t really see one as better than another – but is there something wrong with sounding American? I’m not sure what that’d be.
c) You’re friends with all the nice boys. Isn’t that what everyone wants to be?! I think these bullies are jealous of you, ebrooke! I think they’re trying to make you feel bad about the qualities you have that they wish they did! (And I have to admit, because I’M skinny, American, and friends with almost everyone I meet, I don’t see anything for you to be ashamed of for having these qualities!!!) But, hmmm, what’s that fourth one?
d) Oh that’s right. Good grades. Now I would LOVE to hear them make fun of you for that one! ebrooke, you’re living the life they only dream of! You have everything going for you. THAT’S why they’re after you!
Then you say that they called you and your friends “nerds.” Like Bill Gates? Like Jeff Zuckerberg? Like Hermione Grainger (I’m kind of amazed they haven’t gotten so desperate for insults they started calling you “Mug-Blood!”)?!
So what should you do, ebrooke? Relax. Enjoy it. These people are trying way too hard. In fact, I have no doubt that you have some real faults. Maybe you have an ugly toenail, or a zit on your back, or you’re bad at something. But these bullies are so dumb, they haven’t found your real faults at all!
So don’t let them get to you. Enjoy your life. And when they call you “nerd,” agree with them. “I sure am.” And when they call you anorexic, say “Thanks, but no this is my natural figure.” And when they call you “American,” you can remind them of where you’re actually from.
And the funny thing is, if you treat them with strength and kindness – not letting them get to you but also not insulting them back… I’ll bet the day’s going to come when at least some of them start calling you “friend.” Because deep down, they really want to be just like you.
(Or is it that, except for the good grades, they want to be just like… ME!!!!)