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The Trauma of Bullying

The first thing I want to say in this post is, that if you were bullied growing up, I am truly sorry and I understand the trauma that causes because I sometimes still have to deal with the effects. The reason I was inspired to write about my experience is because of something my husband and I were talking about the other night. It was after Steph and I talked to the two truly beautiful women behind the podcast CEOish, Taylor, and Chloe. I was telling my husband about how I was always bullied by the “pretty” girls growing up. These girls were rich, wore make-up, padded their bras (most likely), wore all the “on-trend” clothes, self-tanned, got the attention of the “popular” boys, and were by all definitions beautiful.

When I was growing up I was bullied by these girls, they would pull my hair in the hallway, call me names, start rumors, and would put me down with any chance they could get. I wish I could say the bullying stopped in middle school but it followed me through high school and all the way through college.

See, I had/have acne, I had/have huge curly hair (a jew fro if you will), and a big nose. So from a young age, I felt like an outcast. Clearly, I couldn’t do much about my nose (besides having a nose job, which I toyed with on and off), but with the acne, I tried everything (ended up going on Accutane for years), and I straightened the heck out of my curly hair (my mom would literally iron it on an ironing board, so I ended up looking like the Bride of Frankenstein). I did everything I could think of to fit in but was never accepted by “those” girls.

I hoped the bullying would stop when I went to high school (since I went to a high school specifically for theater) but the bullies were older and smarter. So even though I was part of the group of outcasts (usually I find the “weird” kids are the ones who find their way to the theater) I was still low on the totem pole. I didn’t drink, I still had issues with acne, I still straightened my hair, and I just didn’t fit with the “popular” kids. So I kept my head down, tried to fit in, and basically just worked my butt off in the costume department so I felt like I had some purpose. I actually became the youngest crew chief (I was a freshman) and the only freshman in my class to be put into the Thespian Society.

Once I went to college I thought, here is where I will find my people. Well, I can look back and see a lot of happy memories with the friends I made, but I still wasn’t being treated the way I should be treated. My friends, who I lived with all throughout my college years, took advantage of me (one of them tried to punch me once, that was fun), I still didn’t drink, and I was a terrible dancer (I perfected the falling silently) and I didn’t make any of the mainstage musicals for the first 3 years of my college career. I did start finding my footing in college though, I started wearing my hair curly, and I started letting my weird shine through a little more. I remember one day my junior year, in rehearsal for my first mainstage show, everyone in the auditorium started laughing and looking at their phones. I asked, “what’s so funny?” And one of my cast mates showed me a picture of me on stage with the caption “her hair is so big because it’s full of secrets.” While that may not seem like such a big deal, it still hurt, and what made it worse was that one of my “best friends” was the one who took that picture.

When I got into grad school things really started changing. We were a small class of 10, all going to school for what we loved, and I can honestly say I found my people. I loved my classmates, they never once made me feel less than, and I am so thankful for that.

So now as a 30-year-old woman, 7 years (I think) out of grad school, I still sometimes have the effects of being bullied affect me. I am so confident and comfortable with myself, I still have acne, I still have my big nose, I embrace my curls, my weirdness, my uniqueness, but sometimes when I am in a room or talking to “pretty” women I find myself thinking, they can’t be nice they are too pretty. This is what happened when we talked to Taylor and Chloe. I immediately judged them as a defense mechanism because of their beauty and my trauma of being bullied.

I don’t know if this made any sense, but I wanted to be a bit more vulnerable about the things I still feel now. I wanted to share in hopes that anyone else feels that way to let them know they are not alone. No one is perfect, we all have our good and bad days. And that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

-Elenor Roosevelt


Love always your Cycle Half,

Emily