A personal experience essay: Your words are lasting

February 6, 2023

Natural redheads can be named as many, many different things. A demon, souless, evil, crazy, ect. Since the color is bright redheads are a typical target for bullying.

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Natural redheads can be named as many, many different things. A “demon”, “souless”, “evil”, “crazy”, ect. Since the color is bright redheads are a typical target for bullying.

 My entire life I felt that I was an outsider, someone viewing my actions from above, this was mostly due to the bullying and isolation I endured in the eighth grade  by adults

and teens who laughed at my shortcomings and knocked me down when I already was.

 My classmates quarantined me, targeted me in a crowd, and took their turns mocking me until I didn’t care anymore. I was labeled as annoying, ugly, fat, and a demon with no soul, which in hindsight is kind of funny in that my mockers, really couldn’t find something more creative? 

 Something they loved to comment on was my hair and skin tone. When I was younger I was blonde and tan, but when I was thirteen my hair started to turn red and my skin started to lose any color it had. I was left with pale skin, a freckled face and bright red  hair. I was an easy target for them and they attacked like sharks in blood infested water. 

  Feeling judged and alone, I would dissociate and absorb myself in thoughts. I kept my head down, ears plugged with music, and dove into fantasy worlds around me. Whether it were books, musicians, or my own dreams, I favored my illusions over reality. 

What my peers didn’t know was that I was already going through a lot, my dad and I’s relationship had crumbled, my self-esteem was at an all time low, and I was struggling to feel accepted. They didn’t care how their words hurt me and after years of dealing with the hate, neither did I. I could dye my hair, change my clothes and keep my voice down, but they still found things to pick apart. They chanted things about me on the bus that followed me to the halls of school, to the locker room, and even to the privacy of my own home via social media.

  These traumatic and triggering memories have attacked me for years, but now I have amazing friends, a beneficial and healthy relationships and the maturity to see past dumb kid actions. Though I have these positives in my life, I still feel like that thirteen year old girl who was abused by her peers, and I often find myself reliving incidents from 5 years ago, in detail. 

It was the month of February in 2019, only months before freshman year, during lunch that day I gathered my courage to confront someone who spread rumors about me. I walked up to him despite the fact he was surrounded by harsh worded people, and asked why.  He laughed in my face in front of everyone, my own friends disowned me  and laughed with them. The most heart wrenching moment was when I watched him and my bullies smash my childhood Ipod in front of me, which I had only given to him so he could have music to keep the peace while he was grounded.

 From that day on, I developed a thing called “learned helplessness”, a mechanism that is set in stone after long term bullying. It is when you are conditioned by bullies to believe you are useless and can never help yourself out of the situation. 

 Despite the way this may come across, I do not want you to be able to relate my experience, because from the bottom of my heart, I believe no one should ever have to go through what I did. What I am saying is that, while we haven’t all been the bully, we have all seen one, we have all witnessed the hurt one can spread. I will use this platform to put you in a situation where you have to truly see your actions, where you are forced to reflect on your younger self and how your words impact someone. 

Some of the things the kids said to me were not always so bad, some were simple, “I don’t like you,” but bullying does not stop where you put the period at the end of your sentence. It follows you, like a voice inside your head repeating all of your insecurities.

 The organization, Stop Bullying, has proven that bullying can harm different aspects of your well being and mental health, some even following you into your adulthood. Childhood bullying affects the development of a child’s personality and mindset when they are older. Depression, anxiety, contemplating suicide are all illnesses that are a result of childhood bullying, all illnesses that can be prevented if you are just a kind person. 

Some of you may think this topic is outdated and recycled, but I am a survivor of it, and whether or not people think bullying isn’t as bad anymore. I am still living with anxiety and am constantly reminded of my flaws because of haunting memories and people. 

At the time I felt hopeless, and started to genuinely believe I deserved the hate, I believed I wasn’t worth kindness, but as I grew older I realized they were selfish kids who taunted and broke me. Words do affect people and they can make lasting impressions, remember that people, including gingers, do have souls and they can be damaged by your actions. 

You can always find resources to learn about the effects and warning signs of bullying on Stop Bullying . Help teach the younger generations to be different so hopefully no one has to preach about this topic again.

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  • A

    AnonymousFeb 6, 2023 at 7:54 pm

    Such a beautifully written essay……….

  • T

    TaylorFeb 6, 2023 at 4:29 pm

    Wonderful work. I’m sorry you went through everything you have and everything you will have to endure in the future. I’m glad that unlike a lot of bullied teens, you’re still here.