Column: A blessing in disguiseA couple of weeks ago, I met a couple of students at Farmington High School who I could really identify with. They were students from the FHS Peers for Peers program, and they had just gotten done emceeing an assembly on bullying.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
A couple of weeks ago, I met a couple of students at Farmington High School who I could really identify with.
They were students from the FHS Peers for Peers program, and they had just gotten done emceeing an assembly on bullying. These two seniors, Eric and Holly, shared their personal experiences about being bullied with the freshmen class. Their hope — really, the hope of all of the Peers for Peers crew — was to get the freshmen to understand how much words hurt, and to get them to think twice before saying cruel or hurtful things to underclassmen.
The Peers for Peers crew wanted to start a domino effect with those freshmen. That is, as the freshmen became sophomores, then juniors, then seniors, the class would treat their underclassmen with respect and put an end to bullying in Farmington High School.
I applaud the Peers for Peers crew for their efforts, because I’ve been bullied myself. I told Holly and Eric, I knew where they were coming from. I’d been a new kid in sixth grade. A new kid with big glasses and a bad perm. Kids called me Rover.
Again, in eighth grade, I dealt with my own couple of mean girls, and they were mean all the way through high school. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I did to them. I don’t know why I was an easy target.
When I went to orientation at Mankato State University after graduation, one of them begged me to hang out with her, because I was the only person she knew there. But that’s when I realized that all of those mean things kids had said and done to me earlier had made me a stronger person. I didn’t need to hang out with this girl, but I was nice anyway. I turned the other cheek, so to say.
I didn’t let those kids get the best of me in sixth grade, and I didn’t let those girls get the best of me in high school. I had to grow a pretty thick skin, but in a way, I now know that those kids kind of did me a favor.
When I was talking to Eric and Holly, I asked them what they’ve learned from being the target of bullying. Holly said she doesn’t pass judgment on others without getting to know them first. She doesn’t talk behind other kids’ backs, and she doesn’t say mean things to people. Eric wants to share his experiences because he wants to be part of a solution, not wallow in a problem. He wants to let others know they can find happiness, even after all of the bullying.
I kind of knew what their answers would be, even before I asked the question. Looking back at my life, I think bullying in my younger years helped me to become the person I am. I went on to be a friendly person. I’d like to think I’m kind, and I don’t take people for granted. I try to be polite. I hold doors for people, and I say “please” and “thank you.”
I have a pretty positive self-image these days. I feel good about the person I am today, and I pity those kids who picked on me years ago. They must have had something that truly made them unhappy for them to project such mean things on me. They must have felt like they had to put me down to build themselves up.
The Peers for Peers kids at FHS plan to take their assembly to the two middle schools yet this year. I see their positive attitudes, and I know they’ve made it through the worst part. Being the victim of bullying can be a blessing in disguise. It made me stronger, and it’s made them strong enough to share their experiences with others in hopes of putting an end to bullying. Theirs is a strong message, and I hope other students hear it loud and clear.