~ by Able Delalie (Student, Central University – Ghana)
I gained admission into St. Rose’s Senior High School in October 2010. It was both exhilarating and scary. As young and smallish as I was, I had hopes of leaving a mark before I completed the school. With this in mind, I joined pretty good clubs and societies. Unfortunately, just like the 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament, I spent almost 2 years in ‘forced’ silence. I have nothing to show for those years.
After the 2012 batch left, I broke out. I had my first ‘lay reading’ experience. No, I was not a Catholic, but I had the opportunity to join the society. To receive commendation from an individual privately is an honor. Imagine receiving it from the whole school. For the first time in the history of the school, as far as I know, there was an open approval from both students and staff. It was my first time on stage, yet, I had the Reverend father commending me. I don’t want to bore you with how that year was. All you have to know is it was a pretty fun year for me.
That same year, I participated in my first debate competition in Rose’s. My major MC gig was also in that year. I also had the chance to steer a public speaking competition.
The question here is why did I wait till almost a year to completion before doing something. Simply, I was bullied. Yes. I was.
It is common knowledge that boys bully. All aggressions are attributed to boys and so is bullying. But girls do bully too. It is usually not aggressive. Because women were created in a unique way; their style of bullying is classier and most times goes unnoticed. This, therefore, makes it hard for immediate action to be taken. In most cases, it becomes too late by the time it is found out. There are hurts and scars already.
How do girls bully?
They make use of alienation, ostracism, intentional and calculated random exclusions, taunts, jests, mockery and spreading of rumors to harass their preys. These girls form ‘packs’ and make it their priority to make life difficult for their unfortunate victims. The situation is worsened when parents and teachers do not detect it fast.
We tend to consider only physical aggression leaving out the many other forms of bullying. No, I wasn’t beaten. But, there were repetitive actions that plunged me more into the shell I was fighting to crawl out of.
Did I experience intentional exclusions? Yes. I knew I was good at debating. I knew I had something I could offer. Yet, that chance was not given me. I would always sit in the audience and say I could have done better than this girl.
You would say was I not assertive? The more I voiced out, the more I was tagged disrespectful. The treatment then exacerbated. They made decisions without considering my views. Educational trips were for the hardworking and loyal members of the society. Not to boast; I was the perfect definition of that. Yet, I was hardly chosen to go with the participants.
Female bullies spread rumors. Most rumors that are spread are nasty, tarnishing the image of the victim. You go through that discomfiting moment when you feel everyone’s eyes on you, or the moment when all conversations cease at the sight of you. Not because you are a star, but because they heard something derogatory about you.
Tim Lahaye, in his book, ‘Why you act the way you do’, reiterated and hammered the fact that we act the way we do because of our temperaments. I want to add to Tim’s thought that experiences also shape who we are and the way we act. When you go through some trying times, you are never the same. You become a different person altogether.
There were lots of persuasions from my dorm mates and friends to leave these clubs and societies. My parents thought, I was just being unsociable. I expected them to be encouraging. What I needed was someone to help me break out. But I found none; not with my parents and not with my friends.
Most girls are going through this and more today with no hopes of ever making it in life. In our workplaces today, people are going through hell in the clutches of female bosses. It is not a wonder most men wish we were back to the ancient times where the woman’s place is the kitchen.
Have you been bullied? Are you being bullied? I feel your pain. Don’t keep it to yourself. You need help. You need to get out of that situation before it is too late. How do you overcome?
Focus on your strengths. Build on them and use them to your advantage. Emancipate yourself from every company where the bullying takes place. Look for other opportunities elsewhere to build and grow you. Don’t let the bullying get to you.
Do not show your emotions. Yes, you will get hurt. But do not let them know they succeeded in getting to you. Also, learn to walk away from them. It keeps you in control.
You can try to outsmart your bully. This is my favorite. I became smarter, sarcastic and witty. I had an already cooked up answer for any comment they passed. This earned me a name in the school. But it served its purpose.
Lastly, help people who are going through the same phase you are. And spread the word. Say it loud. Say it strong. Tell the world that bullying is real. Help put a stop to it.