October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying remains an important issue in American schools, regardless of zip code or socioeconomic breakdown. The CYBR Communications Team reflects on their own experiences through letters to their younger selves.
Years from now you’ll look back with a smile and laugh at all the times you were so hard on yourself. All the times you questioned whether or not you were good enough. It’s a funny thing- as you get older, you realize that you have a choice to let people’s opinion affect you or let them leave your thoughts just as quickly as they came. Always remember that happiness is a smile away and that there are always people in the home team section rooting you on.
Dear younger self,
I want you to know that the most important love you will ever receive is from yourself. I know you want acceptance and validation from those around you, but none of that matters when you don't have self love. I'm not going to lie, you will have your struggles. But by celebrating, appreciating, and most importantly forgiving yourself, you will never be alone. Be true to yourself and always, always, always, be unapologetically you.
To my younger self,
At this point in time, you probably think you’ve figured yourself out. You have a clear idea of your personality traits, the things you like, and the people you want to surround yourself with. Just know this: as you grow older, your idea of who you are as a person won’t get clearer before it gets scrambled up into pieces. High school will be a time where you have a highly acute sense of self but a jumbled sense of identity. There will be times when you dislike who you are, times when you don’t want to be seen or heard, and even times when you’re ashamed of yourself. Just remember: you are your strongest and most persistent bully. Do not let your critical inner voice convince yourself of failure.
I know you’re stressed out right now, because that’s what you’re into, but I just wanted to let you know everything is going to be 100% fine. Think about it - you made it through elementary and middle school and those questionable hairstyles. You survived that life sciences teacher who clearly had it out for you. You won’t figure out trigonometry, but you’ll muddle through life without that. All the people you’re worried about impressing, all those tiny pinpricks of embarrassment, you won’t remember them. Truly. You will sit down and actively try to recall exactly who or what made you feel small and you won’t be able to do it. Do you know what else? You will surprise yourself. You will look back on what you’ve done and be surprised by what you’ve made it through, the adventures you’ve had, and you’ll be impressed by the brilliant and passionate people who inhabit your life and stand in your corner.
You already have what it takes, so take a deep breath, and trust me.
Dear Younger Self,
People are mean, man. I know mom always says the old “sticks and stones” bit… but words sting sometimes. Most of your life you’ll struggle with fights that primarily involve wound up words thrown into faces of others around you, but sometimes those words can leave bruises that can last longer than a punch to the gut. So stay strong. I promise one day those words will make you stronger, you will grow up to be a pretty rad person and in the words of Taylor Swift, who will be a big deal one day, “haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate… shake it off, shake it off…” will change your life.
I know you are struggling right now. I know you don’t understand why the other girls don’t want to play with you. I know you can’t really figure out why the boys tell you what you can and can’t do “because you’re a girl”. I know you are boiling over with anger, right now. I know you are hurt I know you are frustrated. I know you see the beauty in everyone all the time and it makes you vulnerable. I know your father calls you gullible because you believe people are designed to want to do good. I know that does not help how you feel at all. I know you are fighting the urge to fight everyone who has something to say about your hair, your height, your shape, your general outlook on life but you are doing good kid. You are doing really good, Nay! One day it’ll all make sense. One day you will figure out what to do with that rage. One day you will be surrounded by people who praise the things insecure children tried to beat out of you and it will be glorious! One day you will learn to pick your battles. You will teach others to sign treaties with themselves. Keep pushing, kiddo. Know you will one day be the guardian you needed. The abuse will never be worth it, but it will not be in vain.
Don’t lose yourself in someone else’s shame.
I love you, baby girl. You are right where you are supposed to be.
The Woman You Were Destined to Become.
Dear Mia Selena,
Experiment with life and love yourself. You're a unique and complex human. You're capable of failure and mental flight. As you work to understand yourself, work to understand your peers and superiors as well. Recognize everyone's complexity.
Sometimes you can be your own bully - STOP THAT. Rely on your good intention, strong intuition and dynamic curiosity. Remember that doubt isn't a tool; love, for self and all, is.
Dear mini me,
If someone is looking at you weird it’s not bullying. Neither is someone coughing on you, laughing at you, or holding their hand obnoxiously close to you. If something is bothering you, just ignore it, or talk to them about it. Don’t freak out--it’s annoying. One day you can be just like me so just don’t even worry because that will be a good day.
For more information on how you can prevent bullying, visit the National Bullying Prevention Center website here.