Dear High School Version of Me,
If I could tell you one thing, I would tell you to remember high school is just the beginning, not the end.
It’s hard to see now, but what feels like the most important thing to you now, won’t even cross your mind in five years. Don’t get me wrong, what matters to you now is important. I’m not intending to be dismissive about what you deem important at your age. But whatever you do, please remember, high school is just the beginning. It should never feel like, “the end”.
With that in mind, I know bullying is an issue. Unfortunately, it was an issue 50 years ago and will likely be an issue 50 years from now. Knowing this, I feel the best way to tackle the issue, is by helping you see bullying through the eyes of someone who has been there before.
If you only remember one thing after reading this, I hope it’s that you are not alone. Also, know you are not doomed to a life of being bullied. Nearly every friend I have as an adult, tells me they were bullied to some degree as a kid. Believe me when I tell you, it’s not a life sentence. All my adult friends who were bullied in school, are extremely successful, have tons of friends, and lead happy lives.
When it comes to bullies, it’s important to understand why they are bullies in the first place. Typically, they are bullies because they are weak minded and unhappy themselves. One of our biggest flaws as humans is our ability and willingness to be mean and cruel to each other. Also, jealousy is a strong emotion and likely fuels most of the bullying you will encounter or see in your lifetime. If this is the case, it just means they wish they were more like you. I always like to say, “If you have haters, you’re doing something right.” When they bully you out jealousy, feel pity for them, but keep doing what you’re doing.
On the other hand, some people are just woefully unhappy and because of that, they will seek to bring others down to make themselves feel better. This is your high school bully in a nutshell. At the very least, I hope this sheds light on why a “bully” is a “bully”. It’s important to understand it’s more about their own flaws and their crappy way of dealing with it, than it is about you. Being picked on, singled out, or left out, is never fun. I just can’t stress enough that it happens to everyone. Yes, even the “cool” kids get bullied, picked on, or have bad things happen to them.
No one is immune.
If by chance, you’re reading this and you are the bully, I challenge you to look in the mirror and make changes now. You can’t go through life being angry and blaming everyone else for your struggles. Tearing other people down won’t change your situation in life, only you can. Being a bully only guarantees you’ll continue down a path of anger and loneliness. Instead of being mean to people, try helping someone out or giving them a compliment. Seek their friendship, not their demise. If you have a rough homelife or abusive parents, I can understand your frustration. Again, seek friendship, not enemies.
Unfortunately, people being mean to each other is part of life. I would be lying if I told you once you graduate high school, people being negative, mean, or wanting to see you fail, suddenly stops. Full disclosure, it doesn’t. Thankfully, there is good news. People who are petty and mean in high school, tend to grow out of it. Luckily, as an adult, you aren’t confined to the walls of a high school or college campus. As such, it’s important to recognize you have control over who you surround yourself with in life. Find people who add to your life, not subtract from it.
Find people who encourage you to take chances, succeed, and grow as a person. Pay no attention to those who say you can’t do something or say you aren’t good enough. Ignore them and work harder to prove them wrong.
They say you’re an aggregate of the five people you associate with the most, so choose wisely. The most successful people in life, tend to enjoy proving the naysayers wrong. If you can use that to your advantage, you’ll be a happy and successful person in whatever you choose to do in life.
As you get older, you will see life is about your “currency”. Your “currency” is whatever you have a passion for and enjoy doing. Ideally, we could all find a hobby and make that hobby into a “job” but that isn’t always possible. At the very least, figure out your “currency” and pursue it with all you have. Don’t worry, it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, or even the twentieth. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers on graduation day. Also, if your currency changes later in life, don’t be afraid to pursue it. Life is too short to be unhappy because you’re afraid of change.
Lastly, just remember social media is simply the highlight reel of people’s life. Don’t spend your time comparing yourself everyone else’s “highlight reel”. Instead, focus on making your own. Don’t be afraid to get away from social media. Be present. Life is what you make it, not what you present online.
Be strong, be happy, be the change, be you.
Bullies will always exist, but they won’t win.