It is hard to admit this, but I wasn’t always the nicest girl.
At one time in my life, I cared a lot about being popular.
I cared so much that sometimes I ridiculed and teased other people.
Or I stood by while others were teased.
And I did nothing.
These are the things about which I am now deeply ashamed.
Sins for which I have tried to atone.
Today I’m guest posting over at Kelly K’s blog, I Survived The Mean Girls.
Kelly’s blog is designed for people to share their stories about teen bullying.
To let others know they are not alone.
Unfortunately, I’m telling it straight.
From the other side.
From a different place of cruelty and weakness.
It isn’t always pretty.
If you know someone who is having a hard time with bullying, this is the place for that person to go.
Please, help spread the word.
People who tweet can find community on Twitter @OstracizedTeens
So click on the big red lockers and read about the person I used to be.
A long time ago.
© Renée Schuls-Jacobson 2011. All rights reserved.
A very brave post.
I was never a “mean girl,” but I’m sure I stood by more than once, even though I’m also sure I was on the other end more than once.
And this isn’t to cushion anything, but when we’re young, we do a lot of stupid things simply because we don’t have the experience to show us right from wrong. While we might know it in our hearts, the pull of peer pressure and acceptance is so powerful. The fact that you remembered something the “victims” did not says something about your character today, which is really all that matters.
Thank you for sharing!
Thank you, Abby. For reading and coming back to tell me that I am not a monster.
I wish I had been stronger back then.
Good for you for admitting your shortcomings. But good for us that G-d forgives us our shortcomings. You did a great service by telling your story.
Thank you as well. For reading and then coming back. I am at peace with myself. Kind of. I know we all do dumb things when we were young, I just wish I wasn’t so dumb so often.
I am gonna double dip, today – I responded to the posted at I Survived the Mean Girls and WOW, what a powerful post. Thank you for your sharing your story.
School is a mean place, it really is, and it seems to get meaner every year. I have been following your journey – though not commenting as I should. I think about it and take parts of it and change how I walk my walk. Sometimes my walk needs work and I am glad I can count on you to help me adjust it from time to time! Thanks
Oh Clay, thank you for your kind words. And for your double-dipping. When I think of school getting meaner it makes me want to home-school. I wouldn’t want to go through middle school again. Honestly. Thanks for your support.
Fine, I’ll be the petty person. Good for you with growth and development and all but that does little for the people you hurt. I don’t know why but I’m just not inclined towards empathy for bullies. I really, really despise people who victimize for the worst of all reasons: just because they can. But, again, good for you.
That was a FANTASTIC post – commented over there! So glad you wrote it.
Thanks Julie! I really appreciate your taking the time to comment there and the coming back here.
Have I won your contest yet? 😉
Believe me when I say it was my pleasure! I’ve been thinking about your post all day, and reading the incoming comments.
LOL! I wonder if you’ll have any more competition?! I’m gonna post 1-2 reminder posts before the deadline. But seriously. How can I pick just one winner*? Everyone’s submission so far has made my day/week/life.
*I will pick just one winner.
Wow, Renée, that must have been terribly difficult to write. Even when you’ve come to terms with yourself, becoming a stronger and better person because of your experiences, sharing your shame, and the painful attempt at atonement with Cat, is very, very brave. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Keenie Beanie:
It was hard to write, and — frankly — I expected a verbal smackdown, but people have been very forgiving. I suspect folks are holding their tongues. I do appreciate everyone’s comments and support.
I really have changed a lot in the last 30 years.
My comment disappeared.
Got comment to work..
Empress! Where did your comment go?!
I commented on Kelly’s blog, but I just noticed that Anderson Cooper is doing a special on Bullying on CNN this Friday, so I thought it was relavent.
Larisa: I love that you always have your eye on the news. And I love Anderson Cooper, so thank you for the info.
And I am guessing that you can vouch — as my cousin, a person who has known me all my life, that I was not always the nicest girl. Right?
I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to read a guest post as I am right now. Fabulous intro.
I think you are brave. Plenty of people never own their behavior. Not to themselves. And especially not in a public forum.
So you? Are brave.
You? Are kind.
People can day me all day that I was not one of the mean ones. But there is a spectrum. By not getting involved, I was — by an adult definition — awful. Isn’t this what we would say about bystanders of the Holocaust? That those who stand by and watch evil occur are guilty by association? So many cruel deeds would not occur if someone spoke out. It could have been me. It wasn’t. I am ashamed. But thank you for your vote — your steadfast belief — that true and radical change is possible.
Because people do grow up.
I was always the one who was picked on. I cared deeply that everyone hated me. You could not pay me enough money to go back to that time in my life. It was so incredibly painful all the time. Every day.
I think that’s why I’m in the military now, so I can defend other people who need defending and save other people who need saving. I’ve deployed three times and have flown hundreds of hours of combat MEDEVAC. I’ve made a difference in the lives of countless coalition Soldiers as well as Afghan civilians. Being a doctor, a military officer, a third degree black belt, a marathoner, a sought-after role model speaker…all of those things are “gotchas” for the people who teased me. I sometimes wonder what they did with their lives. I know I made a difference with mine.
You are neither “Cat” nor “Leech,” but you sure as Hell knew me back in high school.
I don’t know if I was ever overtly mean to you, but — as I said — I wasn’t nice either. I saw people pick on you, but I did not stick my neck out to protect you.
I’m sorry for being weak, Susan. And I am so proud that you did not allow teenage stupidity to break you. And look at all you have accomplished! You are awesome-sauce!
If you have it in you, please consider writing something for Kelly at “I Survived the Mean Girls.” Honestly, I’d love to know how you managed to stay so strong when so many others’ self-esteem is irreparably damaged. You really are a warrior-woman!
Thanks for starting this conversation. It is a very important one.
I survived, but my self-esteem was and still is irreparably damaged. I just mastered an ability to work around it. That’s why I’m not married and don’t have kids. I STILL don’t believe anyone could possibly actually love me other than my mother. I think I keep accomplishing big things because it’s the only way I can prove to myself that I am worth something. At least it’s a semi-healthy response. That, and it makes me happy.
Were you overtly mean to me? Occasionally, but so many people were that it got hard to keep track. You certainly weren’t the worst. I’ve blocked a lot of it out now and have no desire to reopen those thoughts.
Well, I’m going to respond to you privately via email after this word. I think you are amazing. All that you have accomplished is more than most people ever can imagine doing. Okay, you have developed some amazing coping mechanisms, but now you’ve got to believe that you are lovable. Because you are. We were just stupid, mean kids.
And I’m so sorry, Sue.
Wow, I debated about commenting here but decided in the end that I just had to. I have no idea if you remember me. We went to middle school together for two years, high school for one. I didn’t live in the neighborhood very long, just four years, two of which were quite painful. We weren’t friends exactly but we definitely had mutual friends. And we rode the bus together. God how I hated that bus.
My brother and I were bullied. A lot. We were easy targets. New to the area, unfashionable dressed (me), impossibly nerdy (him), we might as well have had targets on our backs. Although you were by no means our worst tormentor, you were definitely mean, especially in middle school. In fact, on those rare occasions that I have thought of you in the past 30 or so years, “mean” is the word that sprang to mind along with you.
Awhile back you and I both commented on a friend’s Facebook page. Curious, I clicked on yours and was redirected to your blog. As former high school English teacher (who secretly desires to be a professional organizer), I was shocked! We have so much in common. You’re so… likable! I have returned to the blog several times since then and even thought about commenting once or twice. What held me back? The concern that deep down you might still harbor some of the meanness that I remembered. While there was no evidence of that in your blog I just couldn’t risk it. Now I know that I can.
Thanks for writing about this topic. I know it couldn’t have been easy.
I am really glad that you decided to come back. Really glad.
It was brave of you, and it reminds me of who I was and what I used to be.
I do remember you. As I have said to others who have contacted me — both on this blog and off — I will say to you. I am so sorry about being cruel to you. While I don’t remember being outwardly mean to you, I am positive I never did anything to help you either. I’m sure I was sitting in the back seat of the bus, trying to be cool. I’m sure I never told anyone to stop being mean. I wasn’t strong enough. I’m so sorry for my weakness back then.
I would love to get to know you better now– if you would consider letting me in.
Obviously, we have a lot in common.
And I hope that by moving away from DeWitt that you had a chance to reinvent yourself, which is basically what I did when I went to college. I shed that old skin and grew something new. And much nicer. I hope your brother had that opportunity as well.
It would be nice to meet you this second time around, Elena. And I promise, we would not need any buses. We could just cyber-sit beside each other. 😉
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