Cyberbullying

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Anyone who knows me is aware of the cyberbullying I’ve had to deal with throughout junior high and high school.  I didn’t think it would follow me to college.  However, I also didn’t think people would be so immature after high school.  My mistake.

So what happened?  To sum it up there was a group of girls I was friends with, and well,  girls are cruel.  There was a “ring leader” so to speak, that I never bowed down to.  Therefore I became a target.  She didn’t like me, and didn’t want anyone else to either.  She had my group of friends turn against me.  She spread rumors.  It was nonsense.  There were blogs, burn books, fake screennames (remember back when aim instant messaging was a big deal?), and even fake facebooks.

It was an obstacle.  No doubt about it.  It truly tested my confidence and my will power.  Luckily I was able to use my determination as a weapon.  To be honest, it’s something I am most grateful for, because it proved a lot about myself.

Recently, I found out that she made a fake twitter about me.  My name.  My exact bio.  Different picture.  Random tweets.  Nonetheless, my name is on the line, and to me, my name is everything.

I’m not writing this to go on a rant about this girl, but rather to give some insight.  So many people, too many people, have to deal with cyberbullies.  Whether you’re in junior high school, college, or even a grown adult, this problem exists.

I know this girl wanted me to turn to self inflicting harm, and fortunately I was strong enough to choose a different route.  However, after dealing with this Twitter chaos, and having all those memories from junior high and high school flood my brain, I started wondering about the less outgoing victims of bullying.  What are they going to do?  Who are they going to tell?

When I was in junior high cyberbullying was still a rather new thing.  There was a lot I wish someone would have told me.  So I’m writing this blog for readers who may be dealing with a cyberbully.  I know what it feels like to be constantly tormented.  I also know that telling someone about it is not always at the top of your “to do” list.  But, what I didn’t know then, that I know now, is that things get better if you stick it out through tough times.  From someone who has been there, here’s my advice…

Don’t be afraid to be the “outcast.”  In fact, take some comfort in knowing that in a world full of people trying to be the same (especially in those terrible junior high years), you were distinct enough to stand out. 

Embrace your weirdness.  If people are going to make fun of you, let them.  It says way more about them than it ever will about you.  If you embrace who you are, those cyberbullies won’t feel they have any power over you either.  So let your freak flag wave.

Accept your flaws.  Once you do, no one can use them against you.  Ever.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.  Most of the time you will find that you’re standing alone.  Too many “friends” are scared to join forces with you, because they think that they’ll be the next target as well.  It doesn’t always mean they’re bad people, it just means you’re a lot stronger than they are. 

Walk tall, with your head high.  It’s a little thing that I know from experience makes a big difference.  Look the world, and your enemies, in the face.  Let them know that whatever is thrown your way, you will conquer.

Smile.  More than likely if you’re dealing with a cyberbully the last thing you want to do is smile.  Well… fake it!  Because eventually, it will become a sort of muscle memory and a smile is all it takes to throw off people who want to see you down. Eventually it won’t be fake anymore.

Light a fire under yourself (not literally).  Prove them wrong.  Ignite your determination to be better and to do better than anyone thinks.

Change your outlook.  Look at all of this as a stepping stone to something so much better in your future.  And know that you’re being bullied because people are envious of the person you are and the sunshine you add to this world.

Trust life.  Know that your obstacle may be bigger than others, but that if you overcome it, your reward may also be bigger.

But, the biggest thing I can say is to never, ever, by any means stoop to their level. 

Not once, in all the years I was bullied did I ever retaliate.  If I wanted to, I could have.  I could have easily given those girls the same Hell they gave me.  Yet, I never did. I wasn’t raised to do those types of things and as many times as I wished I could shut up the voice in my head, I’m glad it overpowered me; because in retrospect, looking back, not seeking revenge was the biggest assessment of my character. 

At the end of the day I can rest my head on my pillow with a clear conscience, knowing that I was a good friend to those girls, and that I am a good person, despite my right to be bitter.  If you can do that at the end of the day, and have a sort of inner peace, no one can touch you.  

Therefore, I will leave you all with this… If you are doing the bullying – may you find God real quick, because you have your own set of issues.  If you are getting bullied, remember God gives the toughest battles to the strongest soldiers. 

Go show the world what you’re made of!  Along the way, you may even surprise yourself.

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For The Love Of The Game

ImageOpening day is the equivalent of Christmas morning to baseball fans.  Every team has new gifts waiting to be unwrapped by fans.  There are new players, new coaches, new managers,  yet it’s all to accomplish the same thing… winning the championship title.  It’s all for the love of the game.

Opening day holds a lot of weight to me.  Aside from the fact that I get to welcome back my boys in pinstripes and look somewhat normal now wearing all my Yankee gear, it’s a symbolic day.

My grandfather had quite an influence on my life, especially when it came to the Yankees and baseball.  Being he lived in Florida, the Yankees were not the home team and the hype is obviously nothing like it is in New York.  So, every opening day would begin with a phone call either to or from him.  These phone calls were full of predictions, lots of “did you know?” news, and a ton of bragging about how wonderful my future husband is (Derek Jeter).

In 2011, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was the middle of March, and obviously my family was heartbroken.  Everyone was able to get on the phone and talk to him, but I couldn’t do it.  This was the first person I was close to in my life that had been diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t handle it, especially because it was my grandfather.  

I knew him and my grandmother were going to be spending a month in New York that June, but still I had to get on the phone before that.  It was opening day when I called my grandpa.  Though my voice cracked as I tried tip-toeing around the inevitable truth that would change everything, one thing remained the same.  Our baseball discussion.  Our opening day gossip.

As we started talking about our predictions for the season, my grandpa started sharing old memories he had from when he was a kid idolizing Joe DiMaggio.  I heard his voice crack through the line as he explained to me how “Joey D” was his favorite Yankee.  And although I was a mess on my end of the phone, I remember somehow smiling because I recognized what a dedicated fan my grandpa was.  

My grandpa passed away that August, and how fitting that the day he ascended into Heaven to meet Yankee greats, the Yankees had an off day.  Knowing my grandpa, I’m sure upon meeting Yankee legends in Heaven, he told them his thoughts on their career, and what they could have done to win that one game that he still remembered they lost.

Opening day in 2012 was rough.  It was the first opening day I didn’t have my grandfather to call.  Though my sister, another huge Yankee fan, said I could call her instead, it wasn’t the same.  For a little while I felt like I shouldn’t be as excited anymore.  I felt like opening day shouldn’t mean as much to me anymore because it was different for me now.  It was an opening day without the “Baseball Encyclopedia” which I called Poppie.  But, I know my grandpa got a kick out of what diehard fans his granddaughters and daughters were, and instead I just changed my outlook.  

Opening day is more than just the beginning of the baseball season for me.  Now it has become a day that directly represents my Poppie and the bond we shared over baseball.

Today, as the Yankees open up in the Bronx, I know my Poppie has the best seat in the house.  I can only imagine which Yankee greats he’s sitting next to and critiquing the game with.

 

Happy Opening Day!