She had a few friends and got good grades in primary school. She was born with teeth and sight that required, at some point, braces and glasses, at the same time. This meant the perfect excuse for some girls and boys to use –instead of her right, beautiful name– namesakes such as “four-eyes” and “polla” (Venezuelan Spanish slang which means brainy, rare person) which did pain that 10-year old girl. It was the pain of being mocked for no other reason than her (temporary) features. “Why do you do it?” she asked in her mind (she never confronted them directly). “Why do you not accept me, with the voice, looks and ideas that I have?”
I can tell, I was her. I asked my parents to change schools, which they did. But the experience left some scars for years afterwards. It took time to accept I did not deserve them, at all.
Four realizations came with time: one, those kids who taunted me probably also held scars of their own (family situations, low self-esteem, name the cause). Two, there were other women and men who, in their own way, had been through similar experiences. I was not the only one who had suffered. Three, I had gone through what experts today call “bullying”, though I did not know it at the time – and neither did my parents. And four, no one should go through the pain of rejection.
In fact, the fourth element has proven itself to change my life in several ways. If bullying can teach a lesson, is that words can be as powerful as fists. Today, I advocate for human rights because of the wish to eliminate discrimination in all forms.
I do not claim to have entirely gone past my scars. I could face a similar situation again or a member of my family and/or friends. But, with the knowledge that bullies –wherever they are– also deal with pain, we can be ready to stop them and set course for rightful change.My Story: Standing Up