I was already crying. Fourth grade really hadn’t been my year, and I was just the kind of person who cried a lot. I was telling my best friend, Anna, about some of the things the other students were doing. I remembered when I tried to join a basket ball team at recess. A “girls team” was evolving, but when I was assigned to that group, the other two girls left. I remembered being in a lunch line when my hand grazed this other girl’s, Lisa’s, hand, and she stared at it like I was toxic. I remembered how another “friend” of mine was telling rumors about me behind my back. Anna was one of the few people who was always there for me, never judging. She would listen to the tearful stories with compassion and friendship, always being kind to me.
Kind to little fourth grade me. That chubby, weird, know-it-all girl who always seemed to be crying.
Anna and I were sitting on a bench off the soccer field. The bench was some type of plastic. It was a lovely shade of evergreen next to a small tree. Sitting in beautiful midday sunshine, Eleanor Chase was crying. A girl stormed up to the bench, and Anna, who was friends with everyone, even this girl, had a worried look on her face. Lisa’s very curly blond hair came into view. She was a little taller than me with her brown eyes narrow and determined.
“I hate you!” she screamed.”Everyone hates you! Everyone-”
But that’s all she could say before Anna stopped her. I just stared crying harder. Tears littering my T-shirt, I had my face to the back of the bench, sobbing.
This happened to me. I changed the names to protect privacy, but, as well as I can remember, this was real. I was bullied, and for better or for worse, that memory is part of who I am today. People asked why I changed my name between elementary school and middle school. This is the reason. I hoped changing my name would make me forget “Eleanor”. The Eleanor who was bullied. But it didn’t.
I lost weight. I started dressing differently. I worked on picking up social ques and not talking so much. But no matter what, I’m always going to be Eleanor. Ella was a dream of a girl who was never me. No matter how much I try bury my old self, it’s still there. The odd thing is, I don’t blame the kids who bullied me. Some of them even expressed apologies later, and now many of them are my friends. I don’t hold someone at fault for mistakes we all make. I hope everyone understands we all change, grow and mess up.
In my school right now, I don’t really see much too much bullying, but that is still too much. When people think they are making a joke, they are actually making someone feel terrible. When one person doesn’t like another person, ignoring can be even more hurtful. Most “bullies” don’t even realize what they’re doing, and when they do finally see the pain they’ve caused, regret is the next emotion, not joy. The stereotype of a person who purposefully tries to make another feel bad isn’t real. After all, we’re all humans.
When you talk with your friends about that one person who’s been annoying you all week, you sometimes need to think, “How would I feel if people talked about me like this?”. You then wonder if the person you were just talking about is doing the same thing to you right now. Who’s the bully? Is it you, or is it the other person? Or maybe we’re all guilty. A bully is defined not just by actions, but it’s defined by who you are in the situation. Everyone is guilty of some kind of bullying, even me. Even you.
I’m not trying to say that bullying is okay in anyway at all, but what I am saying is that things are never black and white, right or wrong.