Meh. Bullying. It’s a bitch, isn’t it? But like anything shitty in life, getting bullied was also one of the best things that could’ve ever happened to me. At the time, it was horrific. It started when I was in middle school and kids stuffed my locker with crayon wrappers, insinuating I stuffed my bra with the same. Funny. But when was in high school and ganged up on by a group of girls that I loved and trusted with everything, it wasn’t so amusing.
The classic story, right? I was talked about, ignored, purposefully isolated, screamed at. Multiple times, people threw food at my parents’s house in the middle of the night, egged my front door, and trashed my car. It was so bad, I didn’t want to leave my house, my parents would have to drag me out just to get air and eat something. (And this is the cliff notes version.) You can imagine how going to school felt: like eyes were constantly burning on the back of my head. I was anxious about whether or not individuals decided to be my friend on any given day and what others were thinking. Maybe they weren’t thinking anything at all, but my mind took me places. All I wanted was allies.
All the while wondering, what the hell did I do?
As an adult, you know those acts are childish, thoughtless. But on some level, those feelings will stay with you. And also change you.
Opening the wounds is rough, which is why I avoid it at all costs. My experience was traumatizing. But on the other hand, it was a blessing in disguise. It built my character and made me so incredibly selective about how I go about choosing the people in my life. It also just made me want to be better. I wasn’t completely innocent when it came to bullying (this was in my younger years though, and nothing I ever did was that extreme, maybe some typical middle-school-girl, garbage banter).
I’m a little warrior because of it.
And let’s put it this way, I barely got through the first few episodes of 13 Reasons Why because I could relate. The memories unwillingly came rushing back. Yet, there are so many people who had it ten-times worse than I. But I could never seem to wrap my head around why people could so heartlessly attack someone who didn’t fucking do anything to them. Just why? There’s still an immediate flood of emotion I feel when I hear stories of people who were so thoughtlessly provoked and hurt. Now that I’m older, I know it’s people’s insecurities and feelings of threat that cause the action. The victim always has some sort of hold, effect, or shine over the other person, for whatever reason.
So while recently interviewing the women from Pretty Little Liars, I took it back where the show began, tackling girl-on-girl bullying. I wanted to see if and how these women experienced similar events that I had. Moreover, how they feel about it now. The effects still linger in our adult lives, for better or worse. There can be trust issues, but also feelings of strength and triumph that we would’ve never grown to feel otherwise.
Huge thanks to Janel Parrish and Andrea Parker for being so raw and making the rest of us feel inspired and a little less alone.