My Annual Message for National Stop Bullying Day
Today is National Stop Bullying Day and there are few things I embrace more than the idea of this day. There is nothing about my past that I would change except for the way I treated people when I was younger. I have lived my life trying to make up for the unkindness I showed as a young man. There is nothing cool about bullying...at all. Each year on this day, I re-post a confession I wrote a few years ago about my bullying past in hopes that it might help someone. Here it is again. Be kind.
My name is Brian Gary and I am a reformed bully. When I look back on my life there are very few things I would change. I feel all the stupid things I have done and mistakes I have made have helped to shape me into what I am today. I feel it has all been for a purpose, to teach me what I know today. Wisdom comes from making mistakes. The one thing I am not proud of is my bullying past.
From elementary school through most of high school, I was a bully. I was a rotten kid who beat other kids up but worse yet, said horrible things to other kids. I know it came from my own insecurities. I would use my physical size and the size of my mouth to make me bigger and better than others in my mind. Little did I know how little I really was.
I can vividly remember in high school swim class, we had a special needs kid in our class and I was the big dumb idiot who used to pick on him because I thought it made me look cool. One day after class the older and bigger brother of that boy had a little talk with me. He did not do anything physical but told me what a punk I was. That day changed me a bit. When it comes to bullies, there are many ways to deal with them. You can ignore them and hope they go away. That usually does not work. You can stand up to them and pretend not to be scared. I believe this one can be very effective. Bullies will feed on someone who they don’t think will stand up for themselves, once you do stand up, you are not as fun of a target for them. I used to use humor to diffuse the situation. Being a clown saved me from a lot of whooping…and got me into some too.
I am so ashamed of who I used to be when I was young that I have spent the rest of my life trying to make up for it. I think of the hurtful things I used to say to people and I just get sickened. Words are so much more powerful than any fist could be. One day I decided I was going to be a different person. I wanted to be the one who protected or looked out for those who had to encounter the kind of person I used to be. I decided I wanted to be the kind of person who was looked to not looked at.
What to do if you are being bullied
If you are being bullied, remember that the bully is the one with huge mental problems, not you. More than likely you will end up being that bullies boss one day. One of the cool things about Facebook and social media is that you can now look up those people who used to be bullies and see what they have amounted to today. it usually makes you feel better.
We as a society need to keep our eyes open for and stand up to bullies. It will not be tolerated. If you are being bullied and need a place to turn, turn to me. I will get your back. I was one and know how they think. I will spend the rest of my life standing up for those who can’t or don’t know how. Bullying will not be tolerated on my watch.