Now that I am a nineteen year old, finishing my first year of college, I find that I am a far more compassionate person than I was in middle school. I know that there is no acceptable excuse to explain away my shame for the verbal abuse I have used in the past. However, I can explain why I did such shameful things in my pre-high school days.
When I was young, I grew up happy and healthy as the oldest of five kids. I was very much the "model" child that my parents more or less would dangle in front of my younger brothers as the definition of success. With this in mind, it is easy to see how I started to develop a rather egotistical world view. While being an oldest child has brought me many good qualities, like a strong sense of responsibility, it also made me very assertive. Thus, I asserted myself in my nuclear family, and I began to assert my "better" self on my new classmates in a new school when I began the fifth grade.
However, as the new kid, I felt some animosity from my classmates. On the playground, when I asserted myself to them, they turned me away. Or worse yet, they would call me names and otherwise tease me. Since I have younger brothers, this bickering wasn't new or strange, so I fought fire with fire. I would tease and call names back to the people who I didn't like or who teased me. However, I did eventually learn that being rude, even in groups, does not make anybody the best of friends.
By the time I was approaching high school, my entire ideology had changed, so I no longer would verbally abuse anybody directly. I unfortunately would still be a mean person behind people's backs, but I knew that making people feel badly was only making me feel badly, too.
The rest of my changes happened thanks to the abuses that my younger brothers endured.
My brother, Henry (not his real name), was bullied in middle school, also mostly called names. His experience was being called gay, fag, etc. despite the fact that he was not and had never done anything to warrant it. He had glasses and was very excitable, so when he played soccer at recess, he would enjoy himself, up until the other boys would stop the game just to tease him.
Once Henry got to high school, he had no friends, and even now, as a senior in high school, he is friendless.
My other brother, Blair (name also changed), is still in middle school, and he is bullied for his admittedly strange mannerisms. Blair is different because he reads social cues poorly, so he has a hard time telling between jokes and teasing and additionally has a very difficult time keeping friends. Blair, like myself, chooses to fight fire with fire. To protect himself from the many, many, many types of abuse that he endures at school, he now immediately lashes out with violent behaviors.
Seeing the varied effects that this bullying, this abusive behavior has had on three of the five children in my family already, I am more than ever concerned about the future victims and the bullies themselves, ashamed of my own past behaviors, and my outlook is forever changed by the drastic effects that bullying has had on my own two brothers, whose lives are better than many others'.
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