As a child, I was always trying to do whatever my older brother did. I was quite a tomboy and not into anything too girly. I would do any sport I could and at one point I was Dancing three times a week, both diving and horse riding twice a week. I loved being active and could never sit still!
When I was around 11/12 years old, going into year 8 at secondary school, the bullying started. There wasn’t just one bully it was a group of girls but there was one leader who would spur them all on. I kept thinking, what have I done to deserve this? I thought I was always kind to everyone so couldn’t understand it. It was never physical but at one point they did shove me because Mum had been called into school about their behaviour. It was mental bullying, nasty comments and taunts about my skin. The whole experience then made me go quiet at home. We always had dinner as a family and would talk about our day. I would still try to contribute a little but previously you couldn’t shut me up! I became less eager to be good at my sports or dancing in case the bullies found out again. At one point I was in the newspaper for reaching all England finals and that was fuel to the fire.
The bullying continued for some months but it felt like forever. There was one time I had a spot on my forehead and I didn’t wear make up to school so it was really visible. The girls all drew a red spot on a piece of paper and stuck it to their heads to mock me. I was self-conscious about my skin so it was torture to me.
Then one day I got so fed up of being bullied, I suddenly felt strong. I’d just had enough, I burst into tears and went looking for my brother. I walked round to the upper school to find him, lower school students weren’t allowed in these areas so I think the girls thought I wouldn’t go. The plus side of having a big brother at the same school was all of his lovely friends rushing to my aid! I eventually found him and we went to speak to his head of year and then spoke to mine, I was called to his office to write down all that had happened.
It was like a weight had been lifted. I gave a huge sigh of relief but then I suddenly realised the girls would of course be called in and I started to get upset again as I thought this would make it worse. Thankfully, it didn’t. My school had a fantastic bullying policy that meant once my teachers knew they could act accordingly. The bullies thought they’d got away with it as nothing happened for a few days. My Mum was called into school and that was when the bullies pushed me around asking, “Why is your Mum here?” repeatedly. I ignored them and then they were finally called to the office. I have no idea what was said in there but the bullying stopped and they were kept in isolation during break times for a few weeks.
Once the bullying had stopped it was like it had never happened, but it took me a while to start trusting friends again as I thought everyone would bully me. But I managed to get on with things. I put my mind back to all my sports and dancing and I began to do really well. Instead of being bullied people actually congratulated me! It definitely made me stronger, I learned that everybody will always have their opinions about you and how you live your life but you just need to know that it’s none of their business! As long as you’re happy in yourself you can just surround yourself with people that only lift you higher. You soon learn how to drown out negativity.
Bullying is common because it’s an easy thing to do. I think it makes the bully feel better about themselves by putting someone else down. Or they feel stronger because they have power over someone but really it’s a coward’s way. Strong people are strong because they have great people around them; not negative ones. A bully can come in many forms especially nowadays with social media so easily accessible. It’s easy to hide behind a screen and be horrible, but it takes a much better person to give a compliment. Think about how great you feel if someone says you look nice today! Well the person giving that compliment feels great too! If I ever had a daughter and she came to me saying that she was being bullied, I think all the feelings that I felt when I was bullied would probably flood back, but I’d definitely be proud that she confided in me. I would of course advise her to tell her teachers but I know from experience that this is daunting. I’d also advise her as easy as it is to give up, try and rise above it. The bully usually does it because of their own insecurities.
Having moved on in life, I am now a professional dancer, choreographer and performer. It’s easy to say I didn’t let bullying affect me, but I think there will always be a small part of me that remembers it. I use that experience as a positive thing now, to spur me on in my career. Not many people can say they have choreographed for major sporting events at the likes of Wembley Stadium and Millennium Stadium! Being asked to name my favourite achievement so far is tough because I’ve been very lucky to perform at some fantastic venues. A highlight would be dancing on the pitch at Wembley but also performing as Snow White in Panto was amazing. I was the understudy and I was told I had to go on at the 5 minute call! Talk about diving in but it was the best feeling ever to get through that show and the 3 others that followed. If I had let the bullies win then I probably would have given up dancing all together!
It’s a privilege to be a part of The Motivation Project! I’m so glad this issue is being addressed as so many people are bullied. I advise keeping any social media private and to only add people you know. If the bully is someone you know (which tends to be the case) block them or delete them. If you can’t see it then you can let your mind rest. When you see it, you over-think it.
I’ll leave you all with my favourite quote:
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers. But most of all surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you even when you don’t see it yourself” – Edmund Lee
If you are inspired by any of our posts and want to tell your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject ‘Real Life’ to be part of The Motivation Project!