When I was in grade school, I was a prime target for bullies because I was tall, lanky, and dorky (which I still am, but I am just an older dork). In grade school, a friend and I went so far as to make up our own super heroes (Commanders of Justice) who would take a stand against bullying and protect those who were less physically gifted. Jimmie and I were only friends for a short while until it was once again time to move on. My biological father (who suffered from alcoholism) could not keep a job and we moved from town to town or school to school every year. Constantly being the new kid took its’ toll on my self worth and self esteem. I had many bullying experiences throughout school, but in the summer between 4th and 5th grade, one trip to Target changed my outlook on bullies forever. I was walking from my apartment complex down to Target with 3 dollars in my pocket. It was a typical summer day, nice weather, a shady sidewalk alongside the well traveled streets and I was looking forward to spending my weeks' allowance. In the distance, a boy who I did not recognize was walking on the same sidewalk approaching me. I looked across the street to see if I could change sides and avoid any possible confrontation, but the sidewalk across the road had already ended a 1/4 mile back. I started sweating and my heart was racing. What could I do to get away? If I flee, it might motivate him to come after me. Running was out of the question, it was a straight shot of a half mile of open sidewalk with no places to hide. I had to walk toward him, there was no other option. The closer I got, I could tell that he was older than me and definitely outweighed my thin frame by at least 15 pounds. I started to move off the sidewalk and onto the grass when he was about 20 feet from me, but he sped up, quickly closed the gap and got right in my face. With a smirking grin, he asked me what I was doing and where I was going. I told him EVERYTHING. As far as I was concerned, there was no such thing as too much information. If I told him the chores I did to earn my allowance, what I was going to buy with it, and how much I was looking forward spending it, he might just let me go. His face was less than an inch from mine and I was terrified. He showed me his fist as if I forgot what one looked like and watched me squirm. His expression was full tilt tough guy face I thought I was going to get hit at any moment. He asked me if I had any money on me and I told him that I was going to Target with my $3.00 allowance to buy a Star Wars figure. He really had fun with that one. He asked what I would do if he decided to punch me and take my money away. Still dangerously close to my space, he hesitated and did the fake out where he raised his hand quickly to make me think I was going to get hit but then just scratched his head with a sinister smile. If his goal was to make me jump, it worked. At this point, I was crying and it was difficult to talk as the flood of my emotions came pouring out in tears. I was surprised at what happened next. After breaking down in front of him, his angry look was replaced by smirks and sneers. His proud posture with his chest puffed out only enhanced his achievement. He told me to stop crying and to get out of there. At the time, I thought he let me go because he felt empathy for me, but of course that was not the reason. All he wanted was what all bullies wanted, a reaction to their intimidation and once he got that, it was time to move on and bully the next kid. I told myself that I would never again feel that afraid or powerless. I took precautions to ensure that I will never feel threatened ever again. Today, I am proud to be a part of the largest Charitable Professional Costuming Group in the world, the 501st LEGION. This organization of Star Wars Fans reaches out to children across the globe to conquer terminal illnesses, bullying and yes we are among the most elite group of super dorks in the galaxy. I am a public speaker and I truly believe it is our obligation to reach out to those students who feel powerless and equip them with tools they need to succeed. Students: Remember that there is no one else like you in the world, you can never be replaced, and you can succeed!
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
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