I just had an interesting talk with my friends today. We became nostalgic and took a tour of our junior high school to high school era and what we have experienced with bullying, wether directly of indirectly. Looking back, I realized that some of the things we experienced and felt during those days, and we cannot believe those things happened.

These scenes that I remembered might seem like small things to other people, but I remember as a young girl I felt it very vividly, even until now. This was never about judging other people and I might not be perfect and I might have done it to someone else but I feel like someone might need to hear this.

One of the moments that I remember was when I wear slightly different shoes, I just proudly bought new wedge shoes that I wore to a special event, I was probably around 17 years old at that time. I must note that using wedge shoes makes me feel very cool at that time since I was short. So one day, I need to take it off to go into the classroom, and when I went out again I realized that some girls are pointing at my shoes and laughing together at my shoes. 

Since that day onwards, I feel embarrassed to use those shoes and never wear them again.

Little did they know, I could not afford a lot of shoe options back then. I only own one pair of shoes, aside from what I wear to school. We as a family were in a budget and I do not own any branded stuff as they have, the one that I had was not even expensive, we bought it at a discounted outlet. But I was proud of it. I also wear some hand-me-down cut bray brown pants that I was proud of. Add that on with my love for Naruto, Saiyuki, and other Japanese mange, there you go, a complete geek

I feel like as a young girl, I don’t know why other people’s opinions and validation are very important to me. I feel like I have been told what is cool and what you are supposed to wear, what you need to do to be attractive, and on how you should be “going to the cool places” or get invited with the “cool gang” or you’re wearing things that are not “cool enough” even though your parents probably have tried their best to afford it. (Now that I have my income, I realize that making money is hard and things are expensive exclamation points) 

One of the worst experiences that I had was when I was insulted physically. For example, I remember when I get called by some boy “Hey, ugly, what are you doing here?” And it just sticks with me. Even though I know now that it was not a good idea to cut your bangs, until that day I never thought of myself as ugly, I guess. And there goes my self-esteem to the drain. So until now, I realized I have trouble looking up people straight to the eye because I’m afraid they will see the “ugly” in me. 

I think it feels so much better when I went to college. Having left all those school days and you feel like you have much more freedom to do things or say. I feel like I have more self-control on how I felt during those days. I can see things more maturely, and to focus on my goals instead of other people’s opinion. When you meet a lot more people as you get older, you will realize how small everything is and how unimportant some things are. A lot of those young kids who get bullied might get the urge to bully other people once they are in a position of power. It will be this never-ending cycle. That is why we have to break the cycle. 

So whoever needs to hear it, you will be fine. It will get better. It will pass. Kids are mean and not wise enough. You will not be defined in such limiting ways. You will achieve great things in life regardless of how you are treated. It’s okay not to be cool because someday you will meet people who are just as nerdy and geeky and awkward as you and you will realize that those sense of superiority will not last. What matters most is how you make other people feel, since you might never know how your kindness will be remembered 🙂 

Author

In between weekend and overcaffeinated days, Najwa writes as a co-contributor of Hello Millennials as a form of sharing platform where she hopes to share her two cents on the brighter side of being a millennial on this day and age. As a proud alumna of The University of Edinburgh and Institut Teknologi Bandung, she has taken interest in international business, emerging markets and technology.

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