5 min read

I've been bullied and this is how I work through it.

I've felt helpless, so I try and overextend myself to help people in need so they don't feel helpless.
I've been bullied and this is how I work through it.

This might help you. But if it doesn't, then it's a good story to read (I hope!)

If you're a creator or a creative person (I believe we all are), then you need at least one of the three things:

  • a supportive partner and a fair amount of willpower
  • a supportive family and a fair amount of willpower
  • no support from anyone but strong willpower that can convince you to go once around the world and then once more, build a ship full of such ambitious folks and take them along for multiple joyrides.

If you have the support but you do nothing about it, that's another choice you make. I'm not here to judge. In any case, one needs some willpower. You could start from there.

I've been blessed with an extremely supportive family and a partner who understands when I work on a piece for over seven hours without lifting my head up and quietly places a cup of tea and tiptoes around the house so I don't snap out of the zone. That being said, my struggles are still my own struggles and everyone's struggle is unique.

I've been spending a lot of time with myself, mulling over how some acquaintances treat me and how I treat some friends. Whichever role I take on, I go above and beyond. This is my personality. I reach out, I find how someone is doing and I do it all the time. But it's exhausting. I don't want to be the giver anymore. Unless I truly believe that I want to give to the person, I wouldn't want to go out of my way.
I noticed some important parts of myself:

  • I was bullied for a good part of my life and I've felt helpless, so I try and overextend myself to help people in need so they don't feel helpless.
  • My understanding of friendships is tainted, so some days I feel bad for not receiving a response and assume that the other person is playing mind games. That's also why I can never play mind games. 🤷🏽‍♀️
  • I've been bullied in every phase of my life, by teachers, friends and sometimes colleagues too. Until I learn what I'm supposed to learn, the Universe won't let me be at peace. 😬
  • I always doubted my decisions and my choices every step of the way, so sometimes as an adult I tend to be indecisive. Does this emoji exactly convey my feelings? 🙄
  • I lacked boundaries. I let too many people interfere in my life. I apologised for my decisions when I needn't have. I let too many snakes slither into my territory and sting me to death. Nice analogy no? Still working on dealing with this. 🐍
  • A part of me seeks closure. Especially the part that was cornered into feeling like a small powerless insect. 🦗 In 'Life of Pi', Pi talks about an alpha-omega relationship between a tiger and a zookeeper. Read up about that if you can. Attaching a few lines below:
"Hediger (1950) says, 'When two creatures meet, the one that is able to intimidate its opponent is recognized as socially superior, so that a social decision does not always depend on a fight; an encounter in some circumstances may be enough.'"

That was the kind of relationship I shared with my bullies. I don't hold it up against them anymore because I'm focusing on salvaging what's left of my own personality. I seek closure. Words to be written on my tombstone. 🪦

In 2014, I worried too much, I was driven by fear and an unnecessary need to chase brands that looked good on my résumé; and I got them without much struggle. The funny part is, I never once doubted my abilities. I was in and out of really good well paying jobs at "big" companies. I was always extremely sure of myself —thanks to my parents who did a wonderful job of letting me believe in myself, my talents and abilities. I quit something without a second thought the moment I realised I wasn't cut out to chase someone else's dreams. I didn't save a penny. I'm not proud of it. But what I'm proud of is my ability to do something truly well while I'm at it; but snap out of it and move on almost immediately the moment I realise it's not for me. I learnt fast.  

But a lot of people couldn't believe my abilities. The doubt always came from outsiders. People who jeered at me from the periphery, people who bullied me into getting things done. People who made me spend money on them, people who openly exhibited their jealousy with cutthroat spite. Peers, friends and everyone else to whom "earning well" was far more important than being happy. Friends to whom "what's right" was far more important than "how my actions make my friend feel." People also chased and upheld a false notion of righteousness instead of friendship, love and affection. I don't blame them. When your environment is a specific way, you mimic that well. It's like a child learning to speak. If you teach the child to call you "Amma", it learns that. If you teach a child to address you as "mummy" it learns that too.

The humankind is like gold. Extremely valuable but highly malleable.

By 2017, these experiences had altered how I viewed myself. I began downplaying my talents. I laughed with my bullies when they made fun of me. If I was hurt, I didn't show it. I brushed my feelings under the carpet. But because I had bottled up so much, I was also an angry person for a long time. I knew at some point that I didn't want to be mistreated. I went through a phase of self-sabotage. But, I also always had my guards up. I built layers upon layers on my personality. I told people I was much older than I was because I didn't want to be treated like a child. I ignored some people deliberately and completely cut off from folks with whom I didn't resonate. I did it overnight. But I also doubted my decisions —a lot. I didn't understand for a long time that very few people had good intentions at heart (and most of them simply did things to survive. Remember, the Alpha-Omega relationship?)

Today, after months of mulling, I'm just glad I did what I did, be it cutting out some friendships who were not for me at that time or removing myself from those environments. My choices are mine alone and no one else's responsibility. It has taken me ages to unlearn. To break the brick wall. To change. I still am learning, evolving, growing.

I've learnt that if you don't step in and break that wall yourself (yes, you'll lose some friends, but it's better than losing yourself, and, you'll also gain newer, better friends who'll love you no matter what) nobody else can do it for you. In short, be thankful but be exceedingly selfish. Focus on your growth first. You can save your friend later. You can listen to their stories and comment on them later, when you have the time.

This is a reminder to every one of you that if you're stuck in a relationship or struggling to cut out people whose words sting hard, hang in there. If you're a creator, and if you've ever been compared to a 'better' friend or if you've been made fun of for spending your time on 'things that don't bring money,' do it anyway because it brings you happiness. And don't explain your choices —ever.  

If you're able to recognise how a person is making you feel, you're halfway towards making the choices you want to, and that's a great starting point. It's only onwards and upwards from there. Let every bully find their strength to move through whatever's troubled them. Let's find our strength too.

Sending you unconditional, infinite love. You're on Planet Earth for a reason.
Go ahead and shine, dear reader.