Words are not for hitting

Story by Madhu Baglani

As a kid, I had always been an introvert and a socially inept nerd. The trouble began at school when I was just eight and had a double promotion to third standard. I received unwelcoming behaviour from most of the students, which left me embarrassed. Yet, I managed to befriend a few with whom I felt comfortable.

Things worsened when I reached sixth standard. Our teacher changed the seating arrangements. That's when I got familiar with a girl whose behaviour was improper.

She threw mean comments and commanded others to pick her things up whenever she dropped something.

Nevertheless, almost all the girls were extremely fond of her. But, I was rather sceptical about her.

I became an easy target as she started using derogatory terms with me and passed sarcastic compliments such as 'unique piece.' This encouraged other students to look down on me as an eccentric person. I felt dejected.

Everyone made a mockery out of the way I talked, walked and just the way I was. Even a few teachers described me as 'abnormal' as I was socially awkward. My school became a source of my anguish and mental disturbances. My journey with self-doubts had begun. I looked into the mirror every morning, wanting to desperately change the person I saw.

The same girl included me in her group. Gradually, I realised that I was a part of their friend circle only as a laughing stock.

During that time, having a PC at home was a big deal. When I shared that I had one at home, they called me a liar and taunted me about it for a week.

On reaching higher classes, I realized that the friendship was all a lie. But I had no self-confidence to stand up for myself. I developed an inferiority complex thinking they were the coolest. I was convinced that something was terribly wrong with me. I couldn't share these openly with my parents either and all of it extremely frustrated me.

The bullying and pretense of friendship continued until school ended and all sorts of communication with her snapped.

Years later, I acknowledged that I suffered from verbal bullying throughout my school life. It harmed my mental health and left me with social anxiety that I knew nothing about during those days.

Those verbal bullies left an everlasting impact on my personality; my fear of being ridiculed by people behind my back is one of them. This ugly phase turned me into an insecure, self-deprecating individual.

Thankfully, I've transformed from my old self. By practicing self-love, I became a more confident being. It was a difficult path, but, it helped me to be where I am today.

I took a leap of faith and started showcasing what I loved doing on social media - my makeup skills, my content were all acknowledged, which boosted me up.

Gradually, I could feel the respect from people; I wasn't looked down as an object of ridicule anymore.

Today, I try to not let the bullying take its toll over me.

But, the fact that I never spoke up for myself would always be my biggest regret.

Irrespective of all that happened, I learned self-respect, to speak up and live life amidst the wounds the bullying had left me with, which would still take time to heal though.

Many people don't even know that verbal bullying exists. From what I had experienced, verbal bullying seems more traumatising than physical bullying, as the outer wounds would heal in a week, but, words never leave.

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