I was a victim of bullying. It started in elementary school when other girls in my class (friends, mind you) decided to come up with a club. The "Non-like Nina Club". Not one to stand up for myself, it took my big sister to put them all in their place. I got through that no problem. But then came middle school. Being shy and quiet and very insecure, I was a perfect target to get picked on. Back then there was usually one person that acted as the ring leader, and then all the followers. I was made fun of for several things. Mainly the way I looked. I had a larger nose and due to white staining on my teeth from harsh antibiotics as a baby, my teeth appeared to be on the yellower side. I was give the nicknames "Rat" and "Cheeser". Rat, because they thought I looked like a rat, and Cheeser because of my teeth. I hated myself. I thought I was ugly, everyone loved my sister, and being the straight A scholar and extrovert, I was shoved into her shadow by all friends and teachers. I used to write "I hate myself" over and over and over on notepads. I didn't understand why me? Why was I the targe? I was shy, but I was a very nice person. Soon even my "friends" began to call me by those nicknames. By 8th grade I got my first boyfriend. The boy that lived across the street thattwt a different school. Of course that becane the new joke. People asked me how much I paid him to go out with me, and a "friend" even brought pictr o my dog on the bus and passed it around telling everyone it wasa picture of my boyfriend. One of the bulliestried to give me a "makeover" one day since I nevewr wore make up. I thought she was trying to be nice to me, only to leave the cass and walk through the halls and having others laugh and point. Yet another butt of a joke. I ran to the bathroom and washed my face off, I couldn't get their fast enough. I got to change schools fo 9th grade, and had a chance to start over. Being a year behiond my sister, I tried to follow in her footsteps in high school. I figured since everyone liked her so much, maybe I should try to be like her. High School wasn't much easier. This time my main bully was my Drama teacher. My sister was the star and for some reason, the teacher disliked me greatly. She even went out of her way to embarrass me on stage. Things turned around for me after going to college where no one knew who I was. My parents enrolled me into an Image and confidence developing class and it changed everything for me. It made me look at myself and I had to admit to myself that I was a good person. I had gotten out of my awkward stage and began nodeling, something I had always wanted to do. I encountered another bully when I began working at the same school where I took my modeling/image development courses. It made me finally realize where all the angst was coming from: Jealousy. This adult bullied me because she was a very, very jealous person. She put others down because it made her feel good about herself. That's what these bullies do! They find someone who is quiet, a little different, or shy and focus on them becuase they know it's an easy target and they won't retaliate! I am now almost 32, a mother of 2 wonderful littles, and I am a survivor. I went from hating myself and being in a very dark place, to thriving and having a successful modeling career. I actually got to come face to face with my main tormentor from middle school and she didn't want to see me! She knew how awful she had been, and it was great to smile and shake her hand after all the years and for her to be able to see me at my best. Bullying is so near and dear to my heart. I plan on doing seminars in the very near future to speak at schools to help tose who are being bullied, those who are bullying, and those who are the by standers. If you are being bulied, you need to realize that you are a GREAT person!! Guess what? We are ALL different!! It's ok to not be the same, dress the same, look the same as everyone else! It DOES get better and the best thing you can do is to STAND UP FOR YOURSELF! I wish I had had the knowledge and self confidence that I do now. Don't EVER let anyone push you around! These people will NOT matter as you grow up and get older! Take a good long look in the mirror. You are beautiful because God made you. If you are a bully, you too need to take a good long look in the mirror and ask yourself why. Why are you doing and saying those things? I have news for you, Bullies don't grow up. It's not cool to hurt people. You have a choice, grow up and be a better person, or stay on your path of being a bully and go NO whee in life. Those of you who stand by and do nothing? You too have a choice. STEP IN and STEP UP! Don't be a follower, HELP someone! Bullies are deep down cowards. If you stand up to them, there is power in numbers. YOU will be remembered for being a good person, and that's what matters in life. Most important, you get back what you put out. Constantly put out positive thoughts, do good things, and good things will happen to you. Hang in there, because YOU are WORTH it!!!
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