Anti Bullying Week: My experiences and what I’ve learnt

It’s anti bullying this week so I thought it’d be an apt time to jump on the bandwagon as it were and discuss my experiences with bullying. I’ve been bullied on several different occasions and at times although I didn’t fully realise at the time I have engaged in bullying behaviour. I think a lot of the times this is something we are scared to admit about ourselves so instead will only talk about the real, horrible cases of bullying, rather than the day to day routine behaviour we saw (or even participated in) that we didn’t realise could have lasting effects as well.

Dodie’s bravery in talking about bullying in her latest book (my review for which can be found here), and how she had engaged in it too because she was afraid, and it was easier, helped to inspire me to speak up about this. The reason she gave of being afraid the conversation would turn to herself instead is really my reason as well. From what I can remember from my hazy memories, my bullying behaviour was joining in with nicknames and not thinking about the consequences. Behaviours I thought was teasing but added to the persona of a person, and didn’t let them define themselves on their own terms. If the people I did this to (I don’t think the list is long but it’s probably longer than I’d like to think) are reading this I’m sorry I went along with the crowd. Sure, I might have not been the loud voice egging people on, but that doesn’t mean I am not guilty. At the time I didn’t even realise but looking back now I know this behaviour matters.

I know how bullying makes you feel. Even the little comments can feel like a heart attack to your nerves. Usually when I’ve been bullied they picked up the easy part to latch on to, which is that I was chubbier than the other children in the age group. Or when I was a teenager and not the weight I was made to feel but because I never had the part where I could eat and nothing be there (not that there is anything wrong with that). I was made to feel like my body could never fit in. It was easy for them to latch on to my body because society told them everywhere it was not desirable. It was easy to latch on to because I knew this, and was insecure about it. I also wouldn’t fight back.

Now I’d like to think I wouldn’t let it not touch me but I’m not impenetrable. It still would. Then, they probably didn’t realise that their tiny comment was all I thought about every minute of the day. What it would be like when I was smaller. When was food, what I should eat (or not eat) to achieve this.

This is still not something I think will ever escape me, but it has dropped down my priority levels now so that my day is more than that. I’ve never made negative comments about people’s weight or appearance or tried to belittle them in that way, but the little bits of behaviour I was complicit in could have effected someone in the same way.

My message from this then is that you may think because you’re not a bully (or the stereotypical definition of one) that you’re behaviour is in fact not bullying type behaviour. Before, you dismiss something as teasing let yourself really think about whether they are in on the joke or not.

I forgave my bullies/ antagonists a long time ago. They just weren’t worth the effort. I think in the end they realised they had been as wrong about me as I’d been about them. Everyone just never bothered to get to know anyone, and just stuck to their labels.

Maybe it’s about time we throw those labels and preconceptions away. It’s hard and you have to be strong to resist the crowd (and when you’re going through your own insecurities that is damn near impossible). I used to get so wound up about the people who didn’t like me for seemingly no particular reason and wondered what was fundamentally wrong with me to make that so. Now, I know sometimes people just don’t click (though they didn’t need to ignore me though or make it obvious though- just saying) and you’ll never please everyone.

I don’t know what I would have done growing up if social media defined my life and my experiences as much as it does this generation growing up now (perfect Instagram photographs at every corner would have definitely sent me into a talespin) so anyone growing up with that as my upmost respect. Especially as words online cut as deep as any that come out of people’s mouths.

This anti-bullying week join me in reflecting over your past behaviour, and seeing how you can be better moving forward. Be the second thought that comes into your head, not the judgemental first one that you didn’t even consciously decide.

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I’ve officially finished my Masters degree

Image: Pexels (A representation of a students life if they are way more hip than I was/ somehow have enough time to use a type writer, and like coffee). 

A short(ish) and slightly personal post ahead. This is just a warning so you know for what you’re getting yourself in for, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!!! Anyway, to the point. The other day, I got my dissertation results and I’m proud to say that my calculations come to the conclusion that I got a distinction overall for my Masters (I really hope this doesn’t come to haunt me lol and it turns out I worked it out wrong).

People who know me personally will know how much this meant to me, not least because I’m a perfectionist but also because I didn’t get the grade I wanted in my undergraduate degree. While blame can of course be blamed on me (and the demon that is procrastination- mostly fear of failing procrastination); a lot of the reason for my result was because of events in my third year of university that essentially meant I was feeling the lowest with my mental health I have ever felt in my life. Although, it has been hard; I’ve finally started to feel like there is a way out of that black hole (though I am by no means magically ‘better’) thanks to the support of my friends and Martin. And due to a whole lot of fighting on my own part. However, at that point in my life I’m not surprised now I didn’t get the result I wanted- I can barely even recognised myself in the person I was that year. I basically should have asked for help and said I was not coping. But I was too stubborn/ afraid to. So what I am saying is, if you’re struggling, ask for the help, confide in someone, I know it’s scary and feels more challenging than whatever you are going through, but it will help so much more in the long run. I honestly wish I had and should have done.

And for those like me who didn’t quite get what they wanted the first time round, I just wanted to let you know you can do it. And basically you’re going to go through a lot of things that suck, and make you feel like there is no way out. But there is, you can do it, and if you need someone to talk to message me. Alternatively, please check out the helplines just below.

Mind (mental health charity)

0300 123 3393

info@mind.org.uk
Text: 86463

https://www.mind.org.uk

The Samaritans (free support for anyone who needs it) 

116 123 (UK) (24/7 every day)

jo@samaritans.org

https://www.samaritans.org

I also want to say a big congratulations to Callie and a thank you for all your support. Ciara- you did amazing, I’m so proud even though you’re older than me lol but I’m definitely the middle aged one of the group. Mitchell- I know you’re going to do amazing. Holly, well done on your Masters, and 4 years putting up with me-we did it (again)!!!

There’s so many more people I could mention and want to but it would make this post far longer than it already is. But everyone else on my Masters course (you know who you are if you’re reading this- well done you’re all amazing).

I also want to say a longer big thank you to the long suffering individual that is Martin, thank you for actually attempting to read my dissertation- it was much appreciated. A big thank you to my mum too for always believing in me.

To anyone else reading, it’s never too late to change your path, whether it be job wise, grade wise, mental health wise. And don’t worry I’m going to stop pretending I’m a life coach now (though let’s face it you’d all buy my motivational DVD because it’d be hilarious).

🍂April🍂

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Post University Panic: A Hopefully Helpful Post

(I chose the above image, as it is kind of a good image to define what I looked like for most of university-I miss my long hair so much! I would have posted a picture of my Masters graduation ceremony, but it hasn’t happened yet! Image credit: Holly Campbell.)

I almost didn’t post anything today but I’m really trying to be consistent with posting so thought I’d post instead how I’ve been feeling recently. Plus, I just did some exercise and it helped clear my head a little bit so think I might be able to actually get something out that is not a rambling mess. So for those of you who do not know I’ve finished university for the second time, as I’ve just completed my Masters course (though I’m still waiting for my final grade). Alongside that my significant other has also finished their course, and my friends who were on the course I did.

Although, I can pretty much just about cope with the fact that we are all not students anymore; I have to admit that the thought still kind of scares me. The last four years of my life have been defined by me being a student. A lot of my most memorable moments in my life like taking up running, going travelling alone, and meeting a lot of my friends and significant other all happened at university. I’ve changed so much that to be honest it is hard to connect to the timid, shy person that I was in some ways before university (though she’s still there and definitely comes out when I’m anxious or stressed). And while parts of me have come bubbling back recently- I’ve started to revert a lot more back to the middle aged, no drinking, serious April and away from the fun loving, carefree persona I tried very hard to adopt- I think now I land somewhere in-between.

However, changing or not, the time after university is hard. Everyone wants to know what you are going to do now. What you want to do. Basically, they want to know if university was worth it career wise. I’m lucky that I actually have found a job after university that I will start at soon (but I’m not going to post what it is or anything like that just out of privacy), but it is within the industry that I went to university to study for. I did though on my way get an endless stream of rejections. I also still see my friends being rejected. Bright, qualified, friendly, amazing people that should be fighting down job interviews. Yet, we can all barely make ends meet. Seriously, don’t look at my bank account right now it will make you weep. And no it’s not fair. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is for anyone who is in that position right now. I just want you to know I get you. I know what’s it like to have no money, and to be scared that you will never find a job. I know this may not be what you want to hear from someone who is lucky enough to have found a job, but I am still going to have a good few months of struggling to make ends meet left. Also, I just want to point out here that I know that there there are always people who have it worse, and I am incredibly privileged to have it as good as I do but comparing people’s issues (unless in an appropriate scenario) never helps. We all have pain, and I would never dismiss someone’s experience because it is not as “bad” as my own.

So for those of you finishing university who do not know what to do take a breath.

Write down a ten year plan of where you went to be. Brainstorm things you like if you don’t know what industry you want to be in. Then, write down your skill set (not focusing on experience), writing down what you enjoy, and also what you want to know/ be able to do.  Set plans on how you will get there. I’ve done my fair share of unpaid voluntary work (for charity’s I have to mention I have no issue with this) and internships that yes, should have been paid. But those positions gave me experience and got me noticed. I know the struggle of trying to fit unpaid work around your paid work. No, I cannot afford to just be paid expenses and come in 5 days a week (I have bills to pay!). There are though lots of places that take submissions (this is for writers)- it sucks but write for free, and get that portfolio out there. Then, when you get to that position of power, help me tear the whole system down.

Also, just so you know tonight I’m genuinely going to sit and take my own advice, and force my significant other to as well. As yes I have a position I’m very excited about starting, but I’m not going to give them my best self unless I know what direction I want to go in. So that involves making sure I tie up my loose ends and projects I’ve been neglecting. As I’m determined to go in with the best positive mindset.

I understand wanting to wallow, and trust me my friends can tell you that I have done more than my fair share. But, I’m so happy that they actually know that for once (minus an incident in my second year of university where I sat on the floor in a teddy bear onesie eating Nutella). Wallowing though surprisingly enough has never made me feel better. Neither does pretending everything is ok. Faking it till you make it is not necessarily something I recommend either. Asking for help, and trying your best is what I do recommend.

Trust me, this is not where I thought I’d be after university but although it’s not perfect; I know I’m going to be happy. I have so many things in my life to be lucky for, and there is so much promise in my future. And I know that you have promise too. So I’m going to keep writing, and keep posting here even though I stress out over every post and think it’s imperfect, uncool and not polished because I’m boring, not attractive enough to be interesting, and just plain not interesting. I’m going to keep going because I enjoy writing for this blog. It’s the only diary I’ve ever consistently wrote in at my life. It stops me repeating myself. It gives me an outlet (I really don’t like not being busy). So to anyone who actually consistently reads my posts, thank you for reading, and if you’re a fellow creator message me and let’s create something together (especially if it’s autumn themed-I’m one of the people who is definitely autumn obsessed). On that note, my goal by the end of this year is to FINALLY start my own YouTube channel (something I’ve wanted to do for years); I just have to wait till I can afford a camera and pluck up the courage. However, it’s now on the internet so please call me out if I don’t do it. I’m also going to hopefully post a blog post with a list of all my goals for the end of this year and next year so I can kind of categorise how I do.

So this post may have got onto a bit of a tangent but what I wanted to say was life is going to feel like it sucks for a while, and I hate that but don’t give up because trust me if you can get through university you can get through this. Yes, “adulting” sucks and your life may feel like an unfunny version of Friends; but just take a step back, breathe, and keep pushing on. After all, think of the relief when you finish this part of the run (sorry a running analogy is the best I can come up with)- and hopefully the promise of the “runners high” will get you through it. I know this may seem like generic, unhelpful advice, but it’s just how I’ve been soldiering on, and I think more than anything it helps to talk about this issue and know that everyone else’s lives aren’t perfect and that they are struggling too.

I know it at least helps me!

🍂April 🍂

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