Overcoming bullying

By Margot Tollefsen | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Laying my head in my hands, I stared out of my blank eyes into a screen filled with horror. I heard laughing from the other side of the computer, from girls I barely knew.  I closed my eyes. I started to think my life would fall to pieces.

I was getting horrible Facebook messages. These girls were calling me torturous names including slut, whore, ugly, fat and every other word known to man. They become more bold, publicly posting on my “timeline” and my “status.” This was a nightmare. But it was only the beginning. Next they started yelling from their cars and spreading rumors about me like I was hooking up with guys. That I was a relationship breaker, and finally that I was pregnant. It all seemed to stem from a boy.

I had just moved high schools. I started out at a public school, but I didn’t really like it much. I then moved to a private school I had always wanted to attend. The first few weeks were good. I was the “new kid,” so I got attention and it all seemed fun at first. Until these girls created a life for me I wasn’t even close to living. Seems like some people think it’s OK to be friends one minute and abusive the next.

After a couple months at the new school, I began talking to a guy and it grew into more than friends. I was very shy and could barely talk, but we kept dating on and off for a couple months. Then it seemed to slowly fall apart. We both became friends rather than a dating couple, which was good for both of us. He began dating a new girl who went to a different school. He and I had remained close friends, which apparently wasn’t OK with this other girl. After they broke up, she, as well as her friends, began attacking me through Facebook, texting and phone calls.

I began feeling very depressed, not only about myself, but life as a whole. I wasn’t excited about anything anymore, and I had lost all confidence in myself. Thankfully my parents noticed a big change in me and began to take me to counseling. It didn’t really work for me since I have never been a talker. I was struggling to tell my parents what was going on, let alone someone I had never met. I felt very alone.

After quite some time, my dad proposed a new idea to me: He offered to take me out of school and hire a tutor to teach me all of my classes just like kids of entertainers do. I could also work for his company and make some money during the year. At first, I was against it, thinking it would make me some kind of loser, or a failure. I felt like I was letting those girls win. My dad never pushed, but gave me the option and my mother became fond of this idea, and believed I could truly excel in this type of learning environment.

How had it come to this? And I wasn’t the only one.

It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school everyday due to bullying. About 282,000 students are physically attacked at school each month. Ninety percent of kids and teens report being victims of bullying, and one out of every 10 students drop out of school due to bullying.

Bullying is not a light situation, and it shouldn’t be taken as lightly as it is. Looking back, I wish I had told someone sooner, rather than pretending nothing was wrong. No matter how strong a person is, they can still get hurt. When did we reach this extreme where students have to be taken out of school or dropout just to get away from the madness?

There aren’t any perfect ways to stop bullying completely, but there are ways to prevent it or turn it into a positive. For me, I decided to gain my self back, and help others do the same. I decided to fight back.

Shortly after, I created a bullying hotline.

The hotline would be a place for kids, teens and even adults to anonymously call about a bullying situation. The callers could simply talk about their problem and have someone listen and give advice, or they could call to get our help in fixing the situation. I ended up calling the hotline “Margot’s Halo.”

My life was completely turned around. What I had been through made me realize what was going on all over the world, and what teens had been struggling with for years now. I have learned to be true to myself, and to keep going with my hopes and my dreams. I am excited for the days to come, and the “bullies” made that all the more possible for me. I have begun to see the world through a different light. These people had me rethinking my purpose and my self. Now, I am discovering more of my talents and discovering “me” as a person. I have pursued myself as an individual.

Not only have I overcome these struggles, but it has also made me the person I am today.

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