The first thing I want you to understand, dear reader, is that I’ve been on both sides of the fence, so I know first-hand how it feels to be bullied and I also know why people bully.
I also want you to know that I KNOW how gutwrenchingly painful it is to wake up when the rooster crows — whether it’s for school or work — and walk into a lion’s den of vicious creatures waiting to devour your soul.
I’ve been bullied since I was playing with Legos, nascar toy cars and dollhouses in Pre-K. It was a result of simply being a minority in a white-majority class in a private, high-end school. I thank God, with all my heart, that I’ve had such amazing parents to instill great, self-love with my duskiness.
Otherwise, I would have been asking, “How can I change myself so they like me?” rather than, “What is so messed up about them that they’re attacking me?”
The latter was a question that I finally answered for myself, nine years later, when I became the bully in high school.
First, I will delve into why others bully, from my point of view, and also teach you how to deal with it from my own learning experience. I want to point out that I didn’t get any of this info from a book or some joke of a site — these are real-life ways I’ve successfully dealt with bullying.
Reasons Why People Bully
- Maintaining Their Rank in the School/Work Hierarchy
As a scum-of-the-earth bully in high school, maintaining my rank as a so-called “in-betweener” or “popular” classmate was crucial. Anyone who fell within the “bottom rank” — and wanted to sit at my table — was a threat to my status. For me, it was nothing personal. It was business. Having lower-ranking pupils around me chipped away at my own position.
It’s also important to note that “in-betweeners” are more likely to bully others than their popular counterparts. The popular populace usually feel more secure in their position than the in-betweeners who, if you think about it, are one wrong move from marginalization, but one step away from popularity. In order to maintain their rank, they feel a need to keep the marginalized populace “in their place” — and this is usually executed by the process of bullying.
2. “I’m Hurting So You Will Feel Pain, Too”
I think what makes bullying more difficult to handle is the erroneous belief that bullies are heartless a**holes that are out to make people’s lives a living hell. Yes, you’re right — they do find pleasure in others’ misery, but that’s because they are wallowing in it, too. They want others to feel what they feel — maybe they’ve been bullied before, like myself, and they finally want to wield power and not be the powerless. Maybe they’re going through some devastating problems at home and their only outlet is to take it out on innocent, unassuming colleagues.
It’s no excuse, but it is definitely a reason why bullies bully.
3. Heavy Prejudices
Some bullying isn’t outright and in-your-face like Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons (the boy who says “haha!”) . It can be as subtle and surreptitious as purposely not acknowledging someone’s presence, sticking one’s nose in the air or keeping one’s distance in disgust — solely based on a superficial, physical trait one cannot change (i.e., skin color, gender, race, nationality etc.).
We all make pre-judgements. We can’t help it. And we also can’t help that our experiences shape the way we think about others before we even get a chance to meet them! But there must come a time when you’ve got to wake up and realize that someone’s appearance does not tell you who someone is. Perception is not reality. Look at Bill Cosby — never in a million years would I imagine Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes-and-America’s-Favorite-Dad Dr. Huxtable would be under massive hot water for many sexual assault cases. It’s best to get to know someone since looks can be deceiving.
How to Deal with Bullying
Before I delve into this list, I want to say that it took me six long years of bullying (from age 4 to 10) to really grasp what it takes to thwart bullies. The rest of my years in school was a smooth ride…
The secret to circumventing bullying is to launch offensive attacks as stealthily as possible and without falling into the trap of engaging with them — that’s what they’re looking for after all.
- Master the Art of the Dirty Look
Sometimes — actually 99.9 percent of the time — bullies aren’t even worth addressing. Not even worth an ounce of your breath. That being said, it is important to master the art of the “dirty look” or, as the kids call it, the “side-eye.”
This look should be the perfect melange of 3 silent phrases written all over your face.
- B***h please. I don’t have time for little boys/girls.
- I have more important things to do with my time than to address a talking pile of hot garbage
- All you deserve is this utter look of disgust on my face.
It works very well because it’s utterly humiliating to try to attack someone and expect a response, but all you’re given is a silent “f*** you” with a look than can kill. I once made a bully cry with just one, deathly little side-eye.
Behold! The dirty look performed by none other than Ms. Naya Rivera from Glee.
2. Don’t Acknowledge Their Existence
What really pissed me off growing up in elementary school was how, even though I would see a classmate get ravaged by a bully, he or she would actually allow said bully to borrow a pen — and even copy their homework — if the bully asked.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
So not only can the bully talk to you any kind of way, but they face no repercussions for it?! They still get the privilege of borrowing YOUR stuff and getting credit for YOUR hard work?
As far as you know, they don’t exist as all!! This works because bullies realize that they lose out on being rude, mean, and stupid.
3. The Power of the Word “So”
The power in the word “so” and other nonchalant one-word brush-offs is that it abruptly ends the tirade that the bully was expecting to go on. How do you piggy-back off of “so,” “and,” or “okay”? They’re major conversation killers and do pretty well in thwarting a tirade of insults.
Bully: You’re ugly!
Bully: W-well….I also think you’re fat
4. Change Your Mentality — Don’t Seek to Be Liked; Seek to Be Respected.
This is very important. A lot of people who are bullied look for validation from their oppressors. They yearn to be liked by the bully. If you continue to seek validation from such people, they will always have domination over you — because you are dependent on their acceptance. But once you accept that you are awesome just the way you are, regardless if these fools like you are not, you’ve already won half the battle.
Seek respect, not validation. No one has to like you, but they will treat you like they do.