Not too many people know this, but I was actually bullied in middle school. It all started in 6th grade, where the bully, whom I’ll refer to as Brian, shared a couple classes and homeroom with me. San Marino is a predominantly Asian school district, so it all began with some teasing because I didn’t know the correct answer to a question. So Brian would call me dumb. Knowledge and academics reign supreme after all. By many standards I wasn’t fat, but I was a little doughy. But Brian called me fat. I was and am still a very optimistic guy, so I couldn’t help but smile a lot. Brian derived me to be gay from that, so he would poke fun at that. It might not seem like much as I write it all out, but you have to remember and understand that junior high is a weird time in life. Fresh out of elementary school, we’re on course to start growing up a little bit. Bodies are changing, hormones are raging and questions are everywhere. I feel like a lot was expected of us at the young age of 11. Another thing to note was that I was really shy. I didn’t really know how to react or what the appropriate response was supposed to be. I didn’t have any witty comebacks either. Although I didn’t think this then, I’m pretty sure there were some underlying reasons revolving around masculinity. Thoughts I’m sure everyone has had were something like: “Am I tough if I fight back?”, “Is it considered weak to tell on him?”, or “I’m weak if his words hurt me”. I just always turned the other cheek and dismissed his remarks. They weren’t bringing me down that much at first.
I don’t know what Brian’s goal was, but he certainly was persistent. He began to take quick jabs at my arm when no one was looking. His language became more harsh and vulgar as time went on. And those jabs suddenly became stronger. You would think that this was all just a phase, but it actually carried over as we moved on to 7th grade. It was around this time that my cousin Princeton offered to give me around-the-clock protection in the form of bodyguards and friends. Whatever he meant by that, I declined. I don’t know why. Again, it was a mixture of masculinity, shyness, confusion and hormones. It’s interesting, there were very few instances of other peers standing up for me. I’m not trying to blame them for anything if it sounds like that. Anyways, Brian would eventually take it too far. During one lunch period, he snagged my metal lunch container. It had an adjustable strap, which he maximized the length of, so that he could begin swinging it around like a shepherd’s slingshot. I kind of looked away and ignored his nonsense when I noticed from the corner of my eye that he had released my lunch container. In the time it took me to look, it had hit me square on the nose.
Instant pain and bloody nose.
As I bent over due to the pain and covered the affected area, Brian knew he had gone too far, for he grabbed me and guided me to the restroom so that I could wash up. As my nose was bleeding profusely, I had to hobble to the nurse’s office to get it checked out. After the bleeding had stabilized, I was able to point out that Brian did this to me. And justice was served. I saw him minutes later to report to the principal’s office. Coincidentally, it was the first time I saw fear in his eyes. He was suspended from school for a couple days. One of those days was entirely spent in the principal’s office, for whatever reason. Needless to say, Brian’s bullying days were over. I’m sure he got a mouthful from his parents too.
This is why middle school is weird: All his friends were mad at me for telling on him. As if I tried to punch the lunch pail with my nose. And as I reflect on middle school, Brian’s bullying didn’t just affect me, it affected the way I interacted with others. Specifically, those I deemed “lesser” than me. For I began to pick on and tease them; I was no better than Brian. The only difference being, I realized sooner and stopped before it got out of hand. At a macro level, I saw it everywhere in middle school. Endless cycles and loops of kids picking on other kids, because other kids were picking on them. This is an advert for child abuse, but I feel it explains the problem in the same light.
I’m glad bullying is better addressed in schools, commercials and stuff now. I don’t think cyber bullying was a thing yet when I was in middle school either. Words hurt. Do me and other people a favor and stand up to bullying. Or better yet, just stop teasing people just because you can. But kids are kids, right? I am a survivor after all.. I don’t want to delve into negative hypotheticals and comparisons. I mean, It’s stuff like this that makes me disappointed:
It’s hard to say if I would have tried to help in some of those scenarios. I might have tried to walk away like some of those people. After watching this, I’ve decided I want to be more aware and active, should I ever come across it.
As for Brian, he never bothered me again. He did apologize, and to make sure I knew he apologized, he actually signed my yearbook in 9th grade like this:
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.