Between the bully and the victim, it is usually the victim’s fault for being pushed around. In many cases, a friend or an older adult would usually advise the victim to simply ignore the bully, thinking that he/she will eventually go away as a result. Let it be known that bullying is not something you will experience only during your life as a student—if not handled properly, bullies may directly or indirectly haunt you for the rest of your life.

Been there, done that, and I am never going back, but it did frustrate me to hear someone close to me ask: “You mean to tell me you’ve never been made fun of for being as nerdy as you are?” It was a passive-aggressive question, and I immediately saw through the eyes of this bright, usually beaming twelve-year-old that she was currently going through what I had once gone through: she was made fun of for being different. To get rid of these bullies for good, be sure to know what you want and, more importantly, always stand up for what you believe in.

Step one: know what you want. Back when I was six years old, I recall being bullied for being different: I was an unusually tall kid who had a bowl cut; that I wrote poems and sketched people, albeit unsuccessfully, in my free time did not help either. I was happy, but I was made fun of, and I felt alone. Consequently, I began searching for a sense of belonging. Nothing else mattered for a while; all I wanted was to fit in. As my classmates ran after one another in school, I ran with them and, in turn, received an injury so bad that the scar is still visible on my knee to this day. Nobody pushed me while I was running, so you may be thinking that this is not bullying at all. The fact, however, is that it was against my will to even be part of the game, but I let them convince me to bend my values for the sake of “befriending” them. This is one of the most common, albeit indirect, forms of bullying and, in the long run, it is just as bad, if not worse, than the direct kind. A year later, I met people who enjoyed the same things that I did, and we all became very good friends. The solution was much simpler than I thought: love yourself first, and only then will other people learn to love you.

standStep two: once you have identified what you want, stand up for what you believe in. This is quite similar to step one, but in this case, loving yourself has become instinctive to you, so much so that you no longer need to ask for respect; you unconsciously demand it. Back in high school, I was no longer the “dumb” one, yet I was still made fun of for taking school too seriously, to the point of having almost no social life. Since I ignored what I considered to be irrelevant negative feedback, I was later confronted by these “bullies,” and they complained that they had now gained the reputation as the “bad guys” because I did not even bother to give them a second glance. In the end, they even apologized. Now, I am not saying you should always ignore those who make fun of you, but it worked in my case simply because I did not have time to bother with any of the drama that they were trying to conjure. If they did, however, confront me directly, I definitely would have stood my ground. Also, notice how I used quotation marks in talking about them?

When you respect and love yourself, you feel invincible, as though no one could bully you or trample your self-esteem. You risk being rejected sometimes as a result, but this is when you begin to realize your true worth. As for those who stay, you will be happy that they stayed for you, the true you. So be confident about your values, not to the point of narcissism, but enough for you to realize what you are worth. Once you do this, you will no longer have the time to feel insufficient, for you are now loved for who you are, and no longer who others want or believe you to be.

One thing most us fail to realize is that people will treat us based on how they feel we should be treated. So be yourself, know and work for what you want and realize that, no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to please everyone. As my favorite childhood author, Dr. Seuss, put it: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you. “ If you let bullies push you around “just this once,” this “once” can and will multiply to a number as great as Taylor Swift’s list of ex-boyfriends. Prevention is better than cure in many cases, and this case is no different.

What are some ways you deal with bullies?

Kendra Minoza is currently a sophomore at Houston Community College, taking biology as a pre-pharmacy major. Additionally, she is the NSCS Star Status Coordinator at HCC. Kendra enjoys writing, public speaking, reading, drawing, and charcoal painting. Her love for tea and lack of “normal” hobbies (such as watching TV) has made people believe that she is “an old lady in disguise.”