Bullied for being alternative
If you are an alternative dude/dudette and love it, but the others around you at school aren’t, you can rarely change other people’s actions – especially if they’re teasing you mercilessly – but you can change your own. These pointers may help make your life a little easier.
1. Don’t change – You have a right to be yourself, so there’s no need for anyone to take that away from you. If you change to be ‘right’ for one person or set of people, you’ll automatically become ‘wrong’ for someone else. You simply can’t please everyone all the time. It’s more important to do small or large things that make you happy about yourself. Also, equally importantly, don’t attempt to force your own ideals and expectations on other people.
2. Remember, they are just words. Are they really having a go at you? Words can hurt, but they are at the end of the day just words. Those words are just opinions, and often ill-informed ones. Also – have you ever said something you didn’t really mean, to impress someone, or fit in, or perhaps because you thought they’d never hear so it would never hurt them? Consider that maybe your detractors don’t even believe what they’re saying – they’re just doing it to impress someone, or because they think they ought to say those things in order to fit in. It’s hard find yourself being more aware of the situation than they are, but if you can’t change their behaviour, this may help you understand it so it doesn’t affect you as much as it could. Yes, it’s hard, but understanding will give you strength – it would be a shame to let their opinions rule your life.
3. Find a way to release your emotions. If the people teasing you make you angry, sad or perversely happy in some cases (let’s face it, there’s kind of a thrill in being pointed out as “Oh look, there goes that satanist chick”), DO NOT bottle your emotions. Let them out, but let them out somewhere safe – to trusted others or through a safe physical outlet (swimming, ice skating, dancing, sports of any kind raise your adrenalin level – the same as if you’d got in a fight – but they channel your anxiety and adrenalin safely, and release make-you-happy endorphins in your body. Sports are a really good way to build confidence and help deal with stress and bottled emotions).
However, it’s better not to express sadness or anger in front of your teasers – it’ll only feed their feelings of superiority and they’ve probably had a big enough meal already. If you’re feeling sad, make your personal mantra (to be said on the inside where the teasers can’t hear you) a nice strong angry one: “F**ck ’em if they can’t take a joke.” From anger to (safe) release and thus increased confidence is a short jump. Give yourself courage!
4. Don’t let it affect your work. Yes, you may feel depressed and feel there’s no point in doing your work, but if you buckle down and do the work, almost every time it will take your mind off it and may even boost your grades (which will give you way more freedom once you leave school to figure out what you want to do, then do it). Turn the bad situation in the present into a better future. You owe it to yourself to live your life.
5. Find an outlet – Running out of work to do and the problem’s still there? Instead of dwelling on it, or comfort eating, or whatever your normal pattern might be, why don’t you go swimming, walk the dog, do the ironing, do some art, pamper yourself to clear your mind? It will really help and benefit your body/tidiness depending on what you do.
6. Tell a teacher/relative/friend. Teachers are best for a lower school, but talking about it to someone WILL help as you will feel like a heavy weight has been lifted from you. You don’t have to deal with the bad stuff alone, even if alone is what you feel. If you do talk to a teacher they have to stop it, but be prepared to deal with a small aftermath. Sometimes change is good. Telling someone will make you feel like you’re taking charge of your destiny rather than leaving it in the hands of bullies.
7. Stand up – don’t take it. If you think that ignoring it or downplaying it isn’t going to work, then stand up for yourself, but don’t let it resort to violence as violence is a reaction born of primitive anger and fear and doesn’t ever really solve stuff but can land you in trouble. However, if it’s reached that level, say something along the lines of “You’re harrassing me, so stop or someone’s gonna know about it”. That will either end it completely or inevitably get them in trouble – and at worst expelled.
8. Be confident – don’t slouch and hide in a crowded corridor, you’re not wearing an invisibility cloak and people can still see you’re there. Take a deep breath if you need to walk across what feels like a ‘walk of shame’ – the deep breath will improve your posture and get your head back up. Throw your shoulders back. Obviously, do this subtly without people noticing your preparation or they’ll think you’re taking on a battle stance! As you walk, imagine yourself surrounded with a warm, cosy, special golden glow – that’s your light, and it’s your friend, and part of you. It will help take care of you and feel more confidence in yourself.
9. Think – If they are still getting you down at this point, you should consider that a part of you believes they are in some way important to you. Are they a friend? A potential significant other? Perhaps they’re just someone you don’t like (ranging from not knowing – absolute hatred)? If they’re a hateful stranger or mortal enemy consider getting to know them a little better. Show them why you like alternative fashion/reviews/music/makeup and their edge might wear off. But if they’re a friend or significant other, it’s time to re-assess your relationship. Friends and lovers just don’t do that to each other.
10. Has it become full-on bullying? Only you can decide. Google for “bullying helpline” to find a helpline dedicated to bullying that deals with your country/area. There will almost definitely be one. Phone them, talk to them, then decide what to do.
11. Celebrate your successes – If you have won them over or eased the situation in any way, then do something to show your victory. Paint a picture, record a song or do something to show for it, so you can always remember your victory and how, in your own way, you changed your world.