Be KIND

Happy (Cookie) Friday! :mrgreen:

My day is off to a wonderful start. I enjoyed an early morning Ashtanga Yoga class, followed by a delightful bowl of pumpkin oats and a glass of iced coffee. In the oatmeal mix: oats, pumpkin, spelt flakes, ground flaxseed meal, soy milk, raisins, and peanut butter.

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So delish! 😀

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Be KIND

As you probably know, I am a HUGE fan of Ellen DeGeneres. I watch her show every single day and meeting her in person is on my Life’s To Do List.

The other day, Ellen chatted with Anderson Cooper about bullying. He shared some of his thoughts about where the problem lies (he cites the internet in particular) and what we can do to help. Here’s the video that Ellen posted her website: An Important Message from Ellen About Bullying. She talks specifically about teenage bullying, but bullying can hurt everyone– both young and old– and have lasting effects.

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Almost two decades later, I still feel some of the effects of middle school bullying. I still struggle with my self-esteem and it takes a lot for me to “believe” that someone is truly my friend.

Growing up in a small town, there weren’t a lot of cliques: you were either “cool” or “not cool.” I don’t specifically remember being part of the “cool” group until my girlfriends “dumped” me and continued to bully me on and off throughout 5th and 6th grade. (Ali shares a very similar experience on her blog.) I’m not sure what I did to deserve it, but these girls made my life miserable. They talked behind my back, wrote mean notes, and started rumors about me. Apparently, I wasn’t as “cool” as I thought!

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Middle school and junior high were a dark time in my life, but I learned early on who was a true friend and who was not. I remember crying to my mom after soccer practice with these girls and telling her that they “dumped” me and no longer wanted to be my friend. My mom told me they weren’t really my friends– and she was right.

After awhile, I stopped wishing to be part of their group and feeling badly about myself. I found my own circle of friends and stayed close with them through the end of high school.

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I still struggle with questioning my friendships, but it gets easier everyday. Now-a-days, I have true friends that think I’m “cool,” no matter what.

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Question of the Day

What are your thoughts on bullying? Where you ever bullied? What do you think can be done to make things better?

P.S. Ellen announced the KIND campaign to help end bullying. If you want to help, just text the word KIND to 85944 to donate $5. (Be sure to respond YES to confirm your donation.) The money supports The Trevor Project.

95 Comments

  1. I love Ellen. She is just fantastic in every way! 🙂

    I think junior high was an especially difficult patch for people. I remember being on both ends of ridiculous “fights”. Groups of friends formed and reformed every week (because let’s face it, jr high kids have the memory of a goldfish). In high school, I got along with most of the kids, but do remember a few occasions where I heard something that was said about me that really stung. Funny how that stays with you- even after 6+ years…

  2. Girls can be so cruel – junior high was really hard for me. I was part of “that” group.. but there was so much meanness going on in that group it was hard to truly think of those girls as my actual friends. I think bullying has a lot of lasting effects on people!!

  3. I’m a huge fan of Ellen! I don’t think people realize how big of an issue bullying is nowadays. I definitely appreciate this post to raise awareness, as I know many who have been harshly affected by bullying growing up. I am so glad people, like Ellen, are standing up for this cause because I strongly believe it does not receive the attention it deserves. I feel that the best way to eliminate the problem of bullying is to talk about it and make kids aware that there are severe consequences involved with bullying others. It is so disheartening to read the recent news stories regarding teens taking their lives in response to being bullied. I truly hope that campaigns, such as the KIND campaign, help to put a stop to bullying altogether.

  4. As the mother of 3 small children ages 7,5 and 3 I worry a LOT about bullying. My son is in second grade and he’s already been made fun of for a webkinz clip on, on his backpack and his halloween costume choice. I think it is so sad and so very hurtful. Of course, my exerience with my son have been minor thus far but I know it’s only a sign of things to come. I’m not sure how to protect my children from it but I am teaching them that bullying, picking on someone, or even being unkind is unacceptable. It’s harder to teacher them that it’s ok to be them and they don’t have to conform.

  5. I never was aggressively bullied in school, but I certainly was talked about behind my back, which at times, I think can be just as bad. I love what you said about questioning friendships today, because I felt my self getting a little anxious about being around so many women at Foodbuzz in a few weeks, and then I remembered that I’m not THAT girl anymore and that you all (funny enough since we haven’t met) know the REAL me better than any of those girls in high school 🙂

    Happy Friday!

  6. i’m STILL getting bullied– some adults never learn to grow up! it took me nearly 15 years after my first encounter with a bully to understand completely that people bully because they’re foolish and insecure. now (when i get bullied by one specific woman) it actually makes me feel kind of GOOD, because apparently i have a life she is jealous of.

    a bit twisted, but it makes one feel better.
    and oh, my god, i remember those hats with the rosettes. thanks, blossom.

  7. I was “dumped” by my “cool friends” in the 6th grade, only a couple of weeks before the end of the school year. At the time, we had a 7th and 8th grade middle school and this is when all the students from our three elementary schools were combined. I basically entered 7th grade with no friends, and rumors were spread about which ensured the students coming in from the other schools would want nothing to do with me.

    Life was beyond rough for me from 7th grade through my sophomore year of high school. By my junior year, I finally felt comfortable in the few friendships I had somehow managed to establish. However, the scars from four years of psychological torment and loneliness never really went away.

    20 years later, I’ve finally gained control over the depression I’ve dealt with since middle school. I have fabulous friends from college, but unfortunately many live far enough away that I seldom see them. My husband – who happens to be one of those true friends from high school – has brought great joy to my life. We find ourselves living and working back in our small hometown, and I run into classmates every now and then. Still to this day, I can’t forget the pain they caused me.

    Getting over the bullying I experienced will be a lifelong struggle. I am so grateful to have found love and happiness in my life, and this is something no one will ever take from me again. Thank you, Tina, for sharing your story and for allowing all of us faithful readers to do the same. I think one of the worst things about bullying is that the bullied feel so alone. It’s good to know that we’re not.

  8. Thanks for sharing your bullying story! I was bullied by (who I thought were) my BEST friends. They wrote horrible things on my window in shaving cream and put gum in my hair at sleepovers. To this day, when I see these girls, you can see they are so ashamed. As they should be. Maybe I will have to blog about it some day. Thanks for sharing, Tina!

  9. I was never bullied but did go to a large school where my friends and I could kind of just blend in. I wish I had spoken out though the few times I witness bullying though. Being silent can hurt someone just as much.

  10. I was bullied as a 2nd grader through freshman year of high school. I can remember one school mate who was being bullied by another girl. I asked her to stop and the girl grabbed me by the hair of my head and began slamming my head against the cinderblock wall of the classroom. I remember telling my parents and they of course had a conferenence with the principal but nothing was done. The bully’s mom was a teacher at another school and we lived in a small town. Nothing was done so the girl continued to bully me.

    Then my dad was offered a job in another state and we moved. I have become something of a sleuth when it comes to checking out former bullies. It’s interesting to see that some of them are still mean people and really haven’t made much of a life for themselves.

    My motto: Be silly, Be happy, Be kind.

  11. I had the EXACT same experience in middle school..which is part of the reason why I became a middle school counselor. Unfortunately today bullying has only gotten worse now that young kids have cell phones, laptops and 24/7 access to the internet, etc.

    Hopefully our generation is better informed about the dangers of bullying and will raise kids from the start to be more accepting of others!

  12. I think everyone has been bullied to some extent throughout their life. In junior high I had a bit of a situation with one or two girls in my grade and really did make me miserable. In the end, though, getting through it made me stronger.

  13. I was bullied and can honestly say that it has still has had an impact on me until this very day. I am in college now and am trying to help someone i have known since she a little girl with bullying (she is in highschool). It is crazy how big and almost popular bullying has become, it is crazy! 🙁

  14. I think everyone in middle school or high school gets bullied in one way or another at some time–even if it’s just catty girls talking about you behind your back. (Unless, of course, you’re at the top of the food chain.) It’s so sad! I wish I could go back and tell middle school me that it gets better.

  15. Tina, I am so sorry to hear about your experiences. Bullying really hurts for life, doesn’t it? I am a middle school teacher & we really work with our students to prevent bullying & give them strategies to stand up for themselves & others who are bullied. This is a nationwide initiative that many elementary, middle, & high schools are implementing in an effort to STOP bullying for good & empower students. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I always tell my students that you never forget when someone teases or bullies you, & this is just another example of how that is true.

  16. I was most definitely bullied. Down to a boy in first grade who was thrice my size punching me in the stomach when I stood up to him (I was never good at backing down). But I have my girls, who have been there almost since day 1. We don’t talk much, we’re all grown with families now (whether married or just with kids or both!), but we’re ALWAYS there for one another. Good or bad. I was shocked my senior year of HS when some of the popular kids started realizing maybe I wasn’t as bad as they’d thought, and tried to make semi-friends with me. These were the same kids that gave me crap all the way through HS though.

  17. I work part-time for a non profit and each fall and spring we do a series of trainings for middle school kids to teach them about conflict resolution and how to deal with bullies. I’m glad bullying is getting so much attention now, because I really think adults have to get involved in the cause, and not just say “they’re kids, they’ll get over it”. I definitely remember being picked on in school, mostly for my clothes or not being cool enough. I didn’t have it nearly as bad as some people though, and I’m proud to be doing something to help kids now.

  18. I was bullied in HS for being a goody goody. that was my nickaname, how awful right? Because I chose not to drink, smoke and have sex at age 16 that obviously made me uncool. It hurt so bad back then…but now I look back at them and the turn their lives have taken and I am SO SO much better off than them! So I chose well I think!

  19. All of these bullying stories make me so sad. I never recall being seriously bullied. Yeah, some kids would have the occasional nasty comment or whatever, but it never went on for more than a day or two. I wonder if it’s because the schools I went to were so small that it was impossible not to sort out your differences. (My 8th grade graduating class was four or five kids.) I didn’t like high school, but I didn’t get picked on. I actually did my junior and senior years at a special program at the local community college because I couldn’t stand the administration at my prior school, not because of the kids.

    It’s been really hard for me to relate to friends’ experiences about past bullying, but I see how much it affects them to this day. Sometimes I wish I could meet those people and ask them what the h*** they were thinking.

  20. My mom always said, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t bully” PS – The Pumpkin Oats have pumpkin in them, right?

  21. What a brave post!! I was bullied in Junior High School and sometimes, even though MANY years have past, I still think of it. It wasn’t physical bullying, more mental, making me feel bad about myself. I Like you, I’ve moved on, and have an amazing circle of friends and family around me, but it takes me a while to “let people in” to my heart, and I’m sure that’s a direct result of being hurt when I was younger. I wouldn’t go back to that time for anything, but in a way, am grateful for it, as it’s made me the woman I am today.

  22. Tina, loved that you shared your experience with all of us here in virtual world. The only bullying experience I can remember is in 3rd grade there was a boy (who will remain nameless) but he used to call me Cody the cow. I was overweight back then and I have fought my weight all my life. I have just finished my first year of maintaining a 100 pound weight loss and I can still hear those words sometimes and I begin to doubt myself all over again. Words have a profound impact on a person’s self esteem and people need to realize that and to really think before they speak. Bullying is unacceptable and there should be a way to teach children, teenagers and even adults that you don’t have to tear someone else down to make yourself feel better.

  23. Bullying is such a hard topic and it happens way too often. Kids who bully and have that behavior reinforced by adults and parents make me so angry. If it happens once it should not be happening again.

    I think young women really struggle with acceptance among peer groups and junior high/high school girls can be so mean. I remember many days coming home in tears.

  24. i think it’s sad how kids don’t realize that it’s their differences that make them great, unique, human beings. i didn’t get picked on a whole lot but there were some times that i caught some flack. i tried to fit in, though eventually, i wanted to take a path that veered away from shopping at the buckle and wearing eastlands like everyone else. we had our ten year high school reunion over the summer and it was great to see the kids i went to school with who had been picked on go forward with their lives and do great things. the even better part was discovering the people who’d been jerks in high school haven’t managed to become much of anything.

    the real question is: how do we make bullying stop? i don’t think it will until people are accepted for who they are, regardless of age. take a look at the lbtg community. it’s 2010 and they still are denied acceptance and rights 🙁

  25. Wow, Tina. As mentioned in a previous comment post, it is incredibly brave to post about such personal experiences of bullying. I commend you for that because telling personal tales of the experience only contributes to awareness of the problem.

    A couple quick points I want to make:

    1) As a male, sometimes there is a gross misrepresentation that bullying is more prevalent amongst one sex whereas it is just as common amongst both boys and girls. I know that your readership and the post-commenting is largely of a female audience. Reading the personal accounts of bullying even posted here reinforces that point.

    2) Bullying can happen to anybody. Since I know you personally and we were only two years separated in our graduating classes, I knew many of the same people you did, and I *never* would’ve tagged you as someone who I’d think of as having been bullied before. I always thought of you as someone who was ‘cool’, attractive, appealing to the masses, and pretty much got along with everyone.

    3) Since many have been forthcoming about personal accounts of being bullied, I will even briefly state part of my own in that the totality of the bullying and effectively having been disbanded from and abandoned by my immediate group of friends I had been subject to in my junior year of high school nearly led to a suicide attempt because I felt I had no one to turn to.

    4) It’s wonderful to read of so many cases, myself included, of those who have largely been able to move passed the past. However, it’s not to say that effects from such treatment don’t possibly come with long-term ramifications.

    Anyway, before this becomes to long of a comment post, thank you for your contribution towards the awareness of a very serious issue.

  26. I was definitely a victim of the “mean girls” in junior high, but I got through it. I saw how they acted and knew that isn’t what I wanted to be like – I wanted to do well in school and make something of myself and they just seemed concerned with having a good time and could have cared less about school.

    Once I got to high school I made some really good friends and gained a lot of self confidence. It still takes a lot for me to open up to someone (I still carry the mantra “the only person you can depend on is yourself”), but I believe I’m a good, fun person and if someone recognizes that, great. If not, their loss!

  27. Love that Ellen is addressing the problem of bullying in schools. It’s great that strong voices are speaking out against such atrosities.

    On a side note- speaking of pumpkin and such- I’ve posted a healthy version of the Starbux pumpkin scone on my website so please check it out! xoxo

  28. Tina,
    The size of my lips is what caused so much taunting in my childhood right through high school. I used to be called a racial slur meaning ‘N lips’. It made me feel very insecure and not want to look or smile at people. Ironically my lips are now the kind that people spend money trying to acheive.

  29. Bullies are jerks. In real life, online, at school…I think we can all say that we’ve experienced it. I know I did! Especially being overweight as a kid. It definitely leaves scars.

  30. Bullying is such a terrible thing. There have been way too many people who live or have lived miserably because of it. I was never bullied, but of course I’d have people here & there say something mean, & I also would say things once in a while about others. I never bullied anyone though. Unfortunately there’s only so much that can be done about bullying. Not every aspect of a child’s or adult’s life can be controlled so that they don’t do or say anything to hurt others. But at least some actions are being taken & I really hope that they help.

  31. It really strikes me to hear so many stories about kids who were picked on as kids and teenagers because I think those of us who were thought we were completely alone. There was a group of “mean girls” in my neighborhood who were awful to me from about 4th-6th grade and I truly thought I was a freak and an outcast, that no one else was treated the way they treated me. I wish there was a way to let kids know that, I think, *most* kids have been picked on, been made to feel less or unwelcome at some point in their lives and that they are totally and completely NOT alone.

  32. That picture of Murphy being bullied is the funniest thing I have ever seen! He is such a funny pug!

    I was not cool, and I wish I knew then that now I would have zero interest in being friends with these people. I see them on Facebook (where suddenly it is like none of that crap never happened) and I can’t believe I ever hoped they would like me!

  33. I think 6th grade is a bad year for just about every girl…I remember being the “new” kid at school when I was in 6th grade. I did have on friend at my new school before I actually started…and she told me to hang out with person X, Y and Z because she was friends with them and they were in my class. So I did, and we were all friends…for a while. Then these girls X, Y and Z decided to turn on my friend. When I asked why, they didn’t have a reason. They just stated they were going to ignore and make fun of her. Which I thought was totally ridiculous. I didn’t go for the plan. I stayed loyal to my friend while they teased and made fun of her for no reason. I say how much they hurt her, and then suddenly, on day the decided to make up, and turned on me. Everyone, including the friend that I refused to bully for no reason…and not only that, but my “friend” was the worst of them all, and for two years, she never let up.

    I don’t know what the answer is to this bullying crisis because I have never understood it. I was usually the one that would stand up and yell at the kids on the bus who would push and make-fun of others. I think teaching basic human decency is the parents responsibility, but unfortunately I think too many parents these days would rather be their children’s friend vs. their role model.

  34. I was bullied by a boss about four years ago. It was my first professional job in my field, which made me vulnerable. It made my life miserable and I am lucky I got out of the job after a little over a year. I even worked for a large University who didn’t seem to care that my boss bullied me and another female co-worker. It was almost as you described about middle school–my boss would definitely be talking about me behind my back to her pals and when I walked in the room, they would all be quiet and seem awkward. Overall, I took the very negative experience and turned it into a positive–I learned for my lesson and know the signs of female bully co-workers or bosses.

  35. I was never bullied but I think this is such a pressing issue, and awareness needs to be brought to the damaging effects bullying can have longterm. I remember, as a kid, thinking that boys had it easier. I’m rather be physically hit than made to feel worthless by my “friends”.

  36. Great post : ) One of my best friends today and I have formed our bond over the fact that our (former) best friends dumped us, and left us in the dark…. and now me and my buddy are celebrating our 4th anniversary – lol. Our birthdays are a month apart, as is the time where we began our friendship, so every year we celebrate an “anniversary” 🙂 She is there for me always – even this week when I was having nightmares about my former pal – and I’m there for her, like when student teaching is kicking her butt =)
    Reading this post actually really suprised me and warmed my heart this morning – I thought I was the only one who felt insecure about friendships but its slightly comforting to know its part of life for alot of us – and that we may be worrying babout nothing after all :o)

  37. Not that it matters, but I personally think you’re one VERY cool person!

    I was always bullied in school about my looks and it still bothers me every day. On top of carrying that baggage around, my boss has been bullying me non-stop for the past few weeks. At least the workplace has a better system in place (aka chain of command) to deal with these issues.

  38. Tina – i was YOU in school- except mine started much younger- i was 9 when my friends “dumped” me- and it was a painful experience.. i had no idea why they would do that and i still dont know to this day!
    thankfully i met a small group of friends that i have kept after all these years, i dont know what i would do without them! even though we werent the “cool kids” we have fared much better than the “cool kids” did.
    im way cool too- even if i am really a dork at heart! lol

  39. I was bullied all the way trought my last year of high school. I was laughed at for being overweight. People would yell things, or laugh out loud or push me. On my last year of high school, the ride bus home was so awful that I thought about killig myself several times until my parents became aware of the bullying and arranged for me to be picked up from school instead of riding the bus. Of course, that didn’t help in school.

    I survived, but it was a really hard time in my life that I do not want to relive.

    I’m 34 years old today and It still haunts me. I still struggle with loving myself and I still stuggle my self-confidence.

    So when I hear a teenager who commited suicide because of bullying, it really hits home.

  40. you seem like such a sweet nice person. it is shame that you had to go through that. I experienced something similar. I was friends with a girl named Nikki. She was one of the popular girls and started making fun of me. right in front of me. and if that wasn’t enough she started spreading lies and soon the whole school hated me. this happened in middle school, and all through high school I was picked on. I remember I used to skip class and cry in the bathroom. still to this day I have trust issues.

  41. I know this post is super old, but middle school was hell for me. My mom died a week before I started middle school, and (maybe because of that) people were horrendous to me for three years. So, that was awesome to deal with on top of my mom being gone. Once I got into high school, I became a cheerleader and things really swung back the other way, but damn. I have a 2 year old daughter, and I’m already terrified about future possible bullying.

  42. Thanks for linking back to this post. I’ve experienced so much pain from being “dumped” by friends in high school and after. Now in my 30’s, I’m in a MUCH better place! It’s hard looking back and wishing I had close friends from high school, but the great thing about life is that you’re never too old to make a new friend.

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