When I was six years old, I was beaten by my fellow classmates for being fat. Looking back at old pictures, I realize I wasn't. I was a healthy, thin girl. But it changed me. From that day forward, whatever went wrong in my life, the devil on my shoulder would always tell me it was because I was fat.
When I was eight years old, people started to make fun of my voice. Every time I picked up the phone, the caller would mistake me for a boy, and my older sister found it hilarious. She would constantly tell me how, when I gave her the phone, the caller said things like "I didn't know you had a younger brother", or "was that your brother?". Eventually I just stopped answering the phone. People in my class made fun of my voice, too. They called me a boy. This resulted in that, for a short amount of time, I refused to speak in class or read out loud because of my voice.
When I was ten, the cute boy in class turned me down, because I was ugly.
Every day they had a new excuse to beat me, call me names, threaten me and treat me like trash.
One day in history class, when I was twelve, the teacher asked the whole class to stand up. "Those who are against death penalty, sit down", he said. Every single one of my classmates sat down. At first it was just one or two. Then a few more. Then another few. In the end, they all sat down. As I looked around me, I noticed I was the only kid still standing. People started mumbling. Staring. "Aren't you against death penalty?", the teacher asked me, obviously thinking I hadn't heard him, or that I was too stupid to understand that I was supposed to sit down. "No", I answered. More mumbling. More staring. "Why not?", he asked.
"Well", I said, "it depends on the situation. Should a thief be sentenced to death? Of course not. But what about rapists, then? Or child molesters? Or killers? Why should they be allowed to live, while their victims hide, terrified, in their own homes, scared of going outside because they might see him again? People often think of death as punishment, but it's not. We're all gonna die some day. Death is the easy way out. If you really wanted to punish someone, you'd keep them alive. As a victim of rape, or bullying, or abuse. You'd keep them alive, and let them live their entire lives scared of what's coming next. Always looking over their shoulder. Not being able to sleep at night because they're too stressed out and scared. Let them re-live the same moment over and over again as soon as they close their eyes, till they find falling asleep just as scary as what happened to them. That's punishment. That's the kind of things that makes you wish you were never born in the first place. What death penalty is really about, is giving closure to the victims. So they no longer have to look over their shoulders. So they no longer have to live in fear, just thinking that one day he's gonna get out of jail and walk free again. So they can breathe out, and be safe, knowing he's gone forever, and can never come back to hurt them. That's what it's all about, and that's why I'm not gonna sit down. Some people ruin lives, and they shouldn't get a second chance".
For a minute, the room went silent. Even the teacher seemed a little confused, a little insecure, about what to say next.
It was in that moment I realized something; because I had been mocked and dehumanized for so long, I wasn't afraid of what they'd think of me. I already knew. Nothing I said or did could make them dislike me more, or treat me worse, than they already had for years. Even if I had sat down, pretending to agree with them, it wouldn't keep them from using me as a punching bag later.
So that's at least one good - one good in an ocean of bad - things that came from being bullied from a young age: I was never afraid to speak my mind, say "the wrong" things, have "the wrong" opinions, or wear the "wrong" clothes, because every consequense I could possibly fear from standing out and being different, I had already experienced.
This is not a way of saying it's okay to bully a person. It's never okay to take someones happiness, inner peace, self esteem and will to live away for your own amusement. I'm just looking at the bright side of things here. Finding the good in the bad is the key to overcome your pain.