Being a target can be a lonely and terrifying existence. Because of the intense hatred people spew daily, you walk on eggshells because you don’t know what the bullies and their minions will do next. They could physically hurt you, or worse. You also feel desperate to correct what is wrong, but you have no clue what it is.
So many targets today can easily relate to my story. With that said, I want to tell you that if you are or have been a target of school bullies, you are not alone, and you will eventually overcome your tormentors just like I did.
I was one of those targets who rebelled against the bullies and fought back. To keep my self-esteem from completely tanking, I dressed my absolute best, but still, it was not good enough for me. I wanted to dress like a million bucks for school. Clothes from Walmart just were not good enough. I had to go to the mall, Cato, Tempo, Maurice’s, or Hollywood’s, before I was satisfied. I was not happy unless I was dressed to the nines at school.
I had to be very well dressed because I was still quite a bit insecure inside. I didn’t feel like I was worth anything unless I was dressed to impress. One of the thoughts which consumed me all during high school was how to dress like a fashionista.
It had a lot to do with how poorly I was being treated, and I continued to believe that the better I dressed, the better I would be treated although, the exact opposite would occur, arousing even further hatred and contempt.
Nevertheless, I absolutely had to be dressed in the hottest fashions, or I just did not feel adequate. The more they put me down, the more I would dress up. I felt that my attire was providing me a sense of not only style but control.
Some mornings, I would dress up, look at myself in the mirror and think,
“So they think I am trash? They must be blind. Does this look like trash? I think not! I know I’m hot, and they are not going to convince me otherwise!”
Does this sound arrogant? Conceited? Maybe. Does this sound downright narcissistic? Perhaps. Was it the right attitude to have? Both yes and no. My defense was to act conceited like I didn’t need any of them.
This holier-than-thou attitude, however unattractive it might have been, helped me preserve what little self-esteem and dignity I had. It helped me to keep going when things were at their worst. It helped me to keep from being totally brainwashed and reprogrammed by my evil classmates, unlike a good majority of other bullied targets, who, sadly, wasn’t that fortunate!
I walked around with my nose in the air and refused to speak to any of them. I had a sassy and smart alicky attitude. I was extremely sarcastic and had a snotty disposition. I even laughed at and bullied others to grab back some power. My attitude stunk – period.
Sure. This same attitude could have also very easily gotten me hurt or worse had my bullies known for certain about it. Many of those girls carried knives, especially those from families of criminals and ex-cons, families who were dirt poor, or just plain loco. Sadly, that was over half of the student body.
I have no doubt that they would not have thought twice about whipping a blade out and slicing my face with it if they could have gotten me in the right place, and I would have had to wear it for life.
However, this arrogance I often displayed was the only way I knew to stay strong and maintain a little bit of poise. I was only a teenager and had not yet fully developed the concrete thinking skills or processing ability to handle my situation more objectively. Back then, I was a slave to my emotions, and I let them guide me in handling people and situations.
Also, I was under a tremendous amount of stress and had been for the last three years. And when anyone, even the most logical and rational person, is under a large amount of stress that lasts over a long period of time, memory, emotional regulation, and ability to maintain positive relationships are negatively affected. Therefore, neurologically, I had two strikes against me- a double-whammy.
From the sixth grade up until I left Oakley, I was constantly in survival mode due to being bullied and had to be to protect my personal well-being. To even make it to graduation, I had to be hyper-vigilant to be safe. You must understand that when you are a target of vicious bullies, it is as if you constantly have a target on your back. You are a marked person, and you learn very quickly to grow eyes in the back of your head.
And it’s no way to live. Please feel free to comment on your experiences and what you did to cope.
0 thoughts on “What It Feels Like to Be a Target of Bullying- What I Did to Compensate”
I’m sorry you had to experience all of this. Clothing was something I was bullied about. In the early 70s combined with my growth spurt between the ages of 10-13, I was often ridiculed for having ‘flood pants’ because my flares didn’t cover my shoe laces. Even when my pants were long enough, some changed the rules. But if I gave a sarcastic reply or even told them if they didn’t like the length of my pants, they could buy them for me, the response would have been punches.
Unfortunately, bullies are cowards and can’t handle being put in their places. Violence is the only way they can have their way.
After 9 years of bullying, I snapped one day in the school shower room after a game of hockey. A girl was making jibes and I grabbed her by her beautiful long hair and pulled her down onto the floor! I warned her if she kept her nasty comments up, she’d get more of the same. I was shaking afterwards because it was totally out of character for me. I was normally as quiet as a mouse, but it did stop the bullying!
How I managed in-between times – I drew pictures and walked my dog to de-stress. I also ate lots of sweets as a kind of comfort thing. Heaven knows why I never got fat!
I hear you there and I’m so glad you were able to stop the bullying. I snapped on several occasions. However, it didn’t stop the bullying but made it worse because I had about 5 of their friends wanting to jump me after I fight one. We lived in a small, Southern town where everyone knew everyone and took care of each other. I was an outsider because I had grown up an Army brat and had lived in many areas. The bullying didn’t stop until I switched schools.
In school, I wrote. I had notebooks full of my writings. When it was discovered I ended up doing many writing assignments for others. Was I being used? Of course. Did I know it? Of course. But it stopped the bullying. I had become useful. At work, to end the worst of it, I sat through a ‘meeting’ refusing to react to the usual interrogation that would in the past always end with me in tears. That time, the last time, I refused. When my antagonist saw further attempts were getting them nowhere the meeting and the worst of the bullying in that form stopped.
You rock, girl! You did good! And that’s usually what bullies want, a reaction.
I just wish I had done it sooner.
You and me both!
I was bullied horribly too. Funny enough, when it comes to being bullied over clothing, that actually came more from my “friends” lol. Although my taste in clothing was VERY questionable at the time!
I hear you there, Maranda. I had those types of friends too.
You were fortunate Cherie, many are not. I was one of them. If I would have worn anything but jeans I would have been laughed out of town. I tried once to dress a bitter better and was scorned.
I suffered in silence and I do not think that my parents ever knew what was happening in my school life. I knew I would never tell my dad because of the tongue lashing he would have given me. Things like, boys need to be tough, you must be a sissy,…etc. Those types of sayings still haunt me and I see red when I hear someone tell a child those types of things. I have to bite my tongue sometimes if I hear it while I am shopping.
I’m so sorry your Dad treated you so badly, Dwain. Family bullying is the most heartbreaking thing a child can go through. It’s even worse when you suffer bullying both at home and at school because there’s no escape nor reprieve from the drama. There were times when I was bullied at home too, only not to the extent that you were. However, at school, my dressing up seemed to make everyone at school even angrier and the bullying got much worse. Know that none of the way your Dad acted was your fault. You were an innocent child and he had a responsibility to love you and support you. But he shirked that responsibility by tearing you down. That’s on him and he’ll have to answer for it one day. Know that his behavior say everything about him and was no reflection on you. Bless you, Dwain.
Bullying is such a horrible problem to go through. Sorry to hear the journey you’ve been through. I’ve often wondered about what goes on in a bully’s mind – is it about them feeling more powerful or just fun at someone else’s expense. Either of these reasons are unforgivable. While this happens, I do have an admiration for the internal energy and fight to keep these influences from not affecting the personality harshly. A tough ask
I believe it’s both reasons you mentioned. It does take a lot of inner work to keep your self-esteem intact. And many times the bullying goes on for so long that it wears the target down and they become exhausted.
Agree, it does take a lot of energy to keep the inner peace.
Well, its really hard for a ‘target’ to live a life like this.
But you tackled it in your own way and emerged as a brave girl.
Honestly, I have not been bullied till now but if that situation comes up, I will tell the incident to my parents, of course.
And, always remember, that everyone is perfect in their own way and if others couldnt see this, then its their problem.
I loved this post….
Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad this post helped you. I’m so sorry you’re being bullied. Know that their behavior is only a reflection of their issues and that there’s nothing wrong with you.
Actually I have not been bullied till now, but no worries
Oh, okay. I read that wrong. When you said, until now, it made me think you were now being bullied. My apologies.
After all, humans make mistakes.
Bullying is a real epidemic that seems to extend also into adulthood. I’m so glad you did not give into the hurtful treatment you received. Wishing you love and fulfillment moving forwards.
Thank you so much, Emily. This means a lot and I so appreciate the kindness and support from you amd my WordPress Family. Sending you lots of warm thoughts amd love.