As a kid, I remember being bullied and teased for all sorts of things: being short, being adopted, not looking like my parents, being Asian, having a flat face . . .
One time in particular, I remember coming home and crying to my dad about my looks and, specifically, my height. We made a list of all the benefits that come with being vertically challenged; No. 1 on my list was being an excellent hide-and-go-seek player. Although I could laugh about it at the end of the day, growing up different is hard. Kids are mean when they don’t have the same reality as you. But I have found that life does get better.
With the recent suicides and bullying highlighted in the media, I’m filled with sadness and anger, wishing I could do more than write about it in my blog. Many of these students are bullied because of their sexual identity. Yet the question remains, how can we stop this?
I think the answer is easy, but it’s putting the answer into practice that becomes harder. We need to start loving each other and standing up for one another. It’s easy to sit back and watch, and it takes courage to say something. We need to value one another and our experiences. We need to listen and learn from what we do not understand. We need to show each other that we value diverse realities and that every person we meet has a purpose in our lives.
Students, I challenge you to start talking to other classmates who may, at first glance, be “different.” You sit next to them in class and see them in the caf or the quad. You know each other, but you never say hello. Well, start. Ask questions and get to know one another. I guarantee these will be rewarding and memorable conversations.
We need to start showing each other that we care. And not just today, when the news is telling us how bad bullying is. We need to do this every day. What can you do today that can stop and prevent bullying?
For those of you bullied or feeling alone, please know that you are loved. You are beautiful and you have value. You are powerful. Find your voice. It will make a difference in the world. You will make a difference in the world.