How bullying changed my life

"I don't know who I would be if I hadn't gone through that experience."

By Khadija Ali

I still vividly remember the morning I sat down on my school’s steps, munching on my cheese sandwich when a group of my classmates huddled behind me and chanted derogatory terms. There were almost ten of them, and one little me. It wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time that there were so many of them ganging up against me. I had a lump in my throat. I tried to mutter a reply. I threatened to go to the principal, but they laughed and said that it would be the word of all of them against mine; that they would make my life a nightmare. I ran through the school’s yard and hid behind the dusty shelves of the library.

That’s how I spent my school days of 7th grade up until the summer break. My mother agreed to transfer me to another school the following fall. I remember racing to our car on the last day of school and never looking back. But the nightmares chased me to my summer holiday, and most of my teenage years. I dreamed of my classmates’ chants, and was wary of making new friends for a while. I was convinced that keeping distance from people would be my shield.

There was a happy twist though. I moved to another school, and met the most amazing people. I saw a therapist who helped me through my tough times, and I slowly found a way back to my old self.

Many of us experience incidents of bullying some time throughout our lives. Many of us are forever altered as a result of the experience. But when I look back at my teen years, I realise that I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the bullies in my school.

Being bullied taught me how to be empathetic towards others. It taught me to be understanding and appreciate that people are fighting their own battles whether we see it or not. I became emotionally intelligent and could pick up on the signs that someone is in need.

I spend much of my free time now enjoying helping those in need, and lending a listening ear to those who need someone to listen to them. Somehow, my bullying experience turned me to be a person who is there for others through their tough times. It taught me how to be a human.

I don’t know who I would be if I didn’t go through that experience. Would I be empathetic? Would I be sensitive to others? Would I be understanding? Perhaps I will never know the answers to these questions, but what I know is that we should always try to find a way to turn our worse experiences to strengths. Only then would we able to move on and live our lives to the fullest.

Khadija Ali is a Bahraini fashion designer and writer.