Anti-Bullying Month is an initiative supported by the American people and our government. Our country needs to heal in multiple spaces. Our people need love. Our kids and teens need us to guide them. We see the implications bullying has in our current political and social climates. It harnesses divide, boasts the wrong priorities, distracts and destroys.
To let light into the darkest spaces is immeasurably difficult. It takes deep breathing, stepping back, and utter discomfort to get to this place. It takes forgiveness. Change can only come through awareness, acknowledgement, and action.
How do we love? How do we forgive?
First, you start with yourself. If you are being bullied or have been, please know that you are valid. You are worthy. There is love in your life. There is love in you. Turn inward and try your best to find the qualities you like about yourself. If you are feeling hopeless, if you can’t see beyond the pain, don’t go it alone. Reach out, let someone remind you of why you are important to them. Be scared, but conquer your fear. You can take control back.
Secondly, stand up for yourself. You don’t have to do this alone. Standing up for yourself can be reporting to another person, and that doesn’t have to be an adult or authority. It can be a friend or peer. Make sure someone knows so they can help you when you are ready to tell an adult. If you are an adult and you are being bullied, please contact human resources. It is unconscionable for this behavior to permeate into adulthood.
Thirdly, if you are ready, there are resources to help you. It’s okay to ask for help.
Fourth, give yourself time to heal. Every day is recovery. To love yourself is a lifelong process, and if you have been bullied, this can take longer than what is deemed normal. You will have harder days. You will also have incredible ones that make you realize how worth it life is.
Fifth, be an advocate. For those of you who have been bullied, for those of you who have not, do not stay stagnant as a bystander. Human cruelty is unacceptable, period. Stand up for others, or if you are uncomfortable doing so, find some way to report it. Become friends with someone who is clearly struggling. Love goes a long way in helping someone restore their self-worth.
I hope these tips will remind you that you are a survivor. You are not alone. You can change your life and gain back control. There will be a day where you look back in wonderment at how you have come so far. These past few weeks and months may seem lifelong. I know you are tired. But please, do not lose hope.
Life is a beautiful thing.
Adrika Lazarus is a graduate assistant for JPO Communications. She is currently studying Social Enterprise at American University’s School of International Service.