Dear Middle School Bully,
It’s me, can you believe it? I survived the onslaught of your carefully crafted words and your whispers behind my back. I bet you didn’t think I’d survive, and why would you with the way you hunted me down and pelted me with cruel comparisons, one-dimensional adjectives, and a flare only the simple-minded would think was special. You know, I spent occasional nights crying into my pillow because I felt I was too ugly to cry in the open air.
I pretended to be someone I wasn’t all through high school because I was afraid I was too inept to make meaningful conversations. I pushed people away from me time after time because I was worried that the real me was only as good as the words you used to describe me. Years… YEARS… after reading one comment on social media made my head spiral in sadness. And for so long I thought I was too invisible for social media comments but middle school bullies have x-ray vision directly into your insecurities, and an adeptness for observation that is usually reserved for serial killers and helicopter parents — one might say the line between these three is very thin.
I have had some time to reflect on the words you spewed my way all those years ago and I just have to say, nice try. You tried to break me and… well you did, multiple times, but that isn’t where this story ends. See, I learned from this experience — I learned that you attacked me because you didn’t feel right. I learned that I am more than a cruel social media comment, a highlight of your day can be a blip on my radar. And I learned that I have so much more to give this world than you or I could have ever imagined all those years ago. It’s a shame! All that time I spent pretending not to overhear you speak with your fellow middle school bullies about me, in a very mafia-like manner I will say, I could have been plotting my future or simply enjoying the intricacies of my budding personality! No I wasn’t cool then and I’m not cool now but I’m more willing to be myself now than I was then and that says something, right?
A middle schooler, the most mindless of all humans, shouldn’t be afraid to be whatever heap of hormone and buffoonery concocted because someone else decided to define him first. I didn’t know who I was then, so why did you feel the need to? That wasn’t your right.
I’m so gullible that I thought for years I have to be the exact opposite of what you said because society deems it so and with that I reiterate, nice try. I’m still here and I have become a person better than you could imagine. I could have done without the insults but now I can say I’ve heard it all! Who knew middle school would give me the same interactive experience that working in customer service would all these years later? Now I’m just more equip. More mindful. And more reassured. Don’t worry, you didn’t do this to me — my friends and family did. They got me through the bad. They reminded me that if I wept too hard into the pillow I might smother myself. And if that isn’t a perfect metaphor for loathing, I don’t know what is. My friends and family, they are the heroes! My heroes.
I’m not writing this to shame you. I’m writing this to say I forgive you. I understand you were not at your best then, I wasn’t either with those big cheeks and weird way of holding my books (?), and with that I hope you’ve found a positive way forward. Hey, maybe you’re writing this exact letter to me but it reads “Dear Middle School Bullied” or “Bully’d” for some flare, that you lacked all those years ago! Maybe you have a kid now and taught them to not make fun, that would be the best case scenario, one that I would surely write home about. Or maybe you created a podcast about women you find unattractive and you often boast about the size of your Ford Fiesta’s trunk… I hope that isn’t it.
Wherever you are, I hope you find a hero or live long enough to become someone’s hero because I plan to do both. Go ahead, give it a try.
Your Middle School Bully’d