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The scars of childhood bullying cross the world

This is her story:

Hi, The Band. I’m a Chinese international student and I’m still trying hard to recover from being bullied in kindergarten.

Back then, I was a shy little girl who was mocked by my classmates; I can still hear their laughter. To make matters worse, my kindergarten teacher was irresponsible (she only cared for children whose parents bribed her). Once, classmates kicked my head in until I bled heavily. The teachers advice? She told me to lie to my family and say that I “fell down accidentally,” clearly my own fault.

The effects of bullying persist. I’ve suppressed my own wants and desires so that I can please others; my family, classmates, and teachers. I was a nice girl, I studied hard, didn’t waste my time on music, pop culture, relationships during my adolescent “rebellion.” I took every word of my family, friends, teachers, and classmates seriously, even when they’d ask me to do something I didn’t want to do. Everyone thumbed on me and nobody thought I was problematic – including me.

I began to notice problems when I was in college: I cannot keep diaries for myself (but I can write for school work). I cannot develop hobbies, enjoy music just for fun, or express myself on social media unless it relates to school work. I don’t have any idols. Anything of my own preferences feels obscure and unimportant. My self esteem is low, I never feel proud of myself.

It’s hard for me to say no to others. I don’t even know what it feels to like fight for myself. I’ve compromised myself many times no matter if I wanted to do it or not (and there are a lot of things I like and dislike). I treat everyone the same, no matter if he/she was cruel to me.

I feel especially uncomfortable when it comes to meeting some outstandingstrong or potential-to-be-bullying peers. All my current friends are somehow weaker than me. While I relate to most of my peers during school, I never contacted them after graduation.

I need to pretend to be exciting to my peers or siblings.

I’ve just recovered from two depressive episodes and begun the long process of healing, empowering, and understanding myself. I repeated “I love you” everyday to myself since last April.

It worked!

I can calmly write for myself. I can express myself on social media. I started to figure out my likes and dislikes. I began to asking my Chinese friends to help if I have concerns about my life. I stopped taking school so seriously so that I can best understand myself and the world. I’ve begun reaching out to help other people who feel weak, depressed, or bullied learn to love themselves. Invigorated, I’ve started to contribute to the development of my discipline in China. I’m comfortable and peaceful being alone doing nothing. While I stay alone here, I’m never lonely.

I have goals now, too! There are a couple of things on my bucket list (traveling, feeling a sense of belonging with my peers, learning to make friends with people who intimidate me) are things I really want but haven’t had acquired yet. I want to fight for myself (when necessary), go to parties and have fun, enjoy music, and attending online or offline community activities.

Life is certainly looking up.