My name is Ashley Vasquez and I am 24 years old and I have so much I would like to write but I would also love to share to anyone and everyone. When I was in middle school I was verbally bullied everyday for about two years about having hairy arms and for being too tall for a girl. Yes hairy arms, it may not seem like such a big deal but I would be called gorilla or someone would grab my arm and be like "look you guys" in front of the whole class or something. At that point in time and at the age I was I was very vulnerable and fragile to it all. Even on the hottest days I would wear long sleeves or huge sweaters, I would have severe stomach aches and would have anxiety attacks going to school sometimes and even before going to the class that had the people who bullied me most in them. Also I was bullied most by boys because I was so much taller than them at this age, and I would be called names like big bird or jolly green giant. I would go out of my way to wear shoes that had the most flat bottoms just to feel not as tall. I remember having a huge crush on this one boy in the 6th grade and when I finally had the guts to mention it to someone and when he found out his reaction was "oh no she's way too tall." I would fake sick a lot and my attitude and personality began changing and my family, but mostly my aunt, noticed because I was around her the most. I remember it got so bad that my aunt (without me knowing) went to the principals office after she finally got me to spill the beans on what was going on. After that the teasing stopped for a little while to my face but began to happen in a more subtle way, such as rumors and gossip. It was honestly one of the roughest times I've been through because I began to feel very insecure, sad allll the time, missing school a lot etc. But what I've learned and as cliché as it sounds, but is very true, is that pain does not last forever and in every situation no matter how bad it is people always move on with their life, learn from it, and become better because of it. I remember the day I began noticing that I was not the only one who would get teased at school, this was about the 8th grade now and I had finally hit my limit of living my life that way anymore. Instead of violently standing up for myself or letting myself be thrown in the dumps (what it felt like) I began to embrace what they thought was fun to tease me about. I am a Latina, so yes I will have hairy arms, all the women in my family do and they are happy people, most of the other Latinas in my school had hair on their arms too, it didn't define me, but who I was as a person is what defines me. I remember the first time I came in confrontation with one of my bullies who made a comment about arms and I made a joke about it saying "yes it's what keeps me warm on cold days," and they laughed but not at me but with me. I wanted them to know that them talking about my arms isn't something that hurts me anymore cause I know who I am as a person. As for my height I learned all the advantages I had such as being able to reach things in high places or earning "best offensive player" on my basketball team. Once I began to show confidence on my own instead of fear and being shy it slowly but surely stopped. Stopping bullying isn't something that can happen over night and to be honest it's something we notice everyday, recently I was my own bully, why? Because the media is probably one of the biggest bully's we encounter or personally deal with today. They tell us everyday what's sexy, what you should look like etc. Men and women struggle with this and honestly I struggled and sometimes I let myself still struggle with it. The advice I can give you is way easier said than done because it took a lot for me to finally know that no matter what way I look or what size I am, I am a beautiful human being. Surround yourself with positive people, happiness and good vibes. My friends, my boyfriend and I are on the journey of the pursuit of happiness. Having them in my life and surrounding myself around their vibes really has helped me on this journey. I dropped anything negative, I've distanced myself from negative people, I'm following my dreams, I meditate now, I make happiness a priority for myself and for making others happy, and I view the world in a way I would have never viewed it a few years ago. You really only live once, so feel and know you're beautiful, be happy, stand up to yourself because you ARE strong enough so let yourself be, to put it simply... just let go!
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