BULLYING PLANTED SEEDS OF SHYNESS
I found this throwback picture of me taken in 1987. I was 20 years old, painfully shy, void of confidence; but most importantly, a product of mental bullying that took root in my life and molded me into believing what I absolutely was not. As ridiculous as this sounds, I used to believe I was very ugly and here is why.
I was born with a pronounced red birthmark on the left side of my face. Back then, it was the first thing you saw if you were meeting me for the first time. I was very conscious of it and used to feel like I was from another planet, because no one seemed to have a face like mine. The kids in school did not help matters with their constant showers of horrible names to hurt my self-esteem, like: "Red-faced Monster," "Ugly Girl," "Map of the World," and "Your-Mother- Must-Have-Slapped-You-With-a-Red-Spoon. "
These taunts laid the foundation for many pity parties. "Why me?" was the question I used to put before God, and whenever my mother came home from work and saw I was crying, she would try her best to convince me I was beautiful. Her words had a way of gently draining away the malicious words I had suffered. Thank God for a mother who kept speaking life into me with statements like: "You are beautiful," "You are going to be great," and "You are somebody." This became a cycle, till I slowly started believing there might be some truth in my doting mother's words. I earned a tiny bit of confidence and was at the point of figuring out a permanent way to dismiss the bullying.
AN ADULT UNKNOWINGLY JOINED THE BULLYING CYCLE
I was almost there when one day my teacher wanted to get my attention. However, instead of calling me by name, she called out: "Come here, Red Face." You can not imagine the shock that bolted from head to toe. She had betrayed my innocent mind to such an extent that I am fighting back tears as I write this. For an adult to confirm what the kids were daily saying proved to me that I was indeed a red-faced monster. Her words had added salt to a wound that caused unimaginable heartache for years.
Thank God for special friends back then. They celebrated and encouraged me in very memorable ways. By the time I graduated from the university, it was not as bad, but still bad. I just did not find myself worthy. This belief followed me into adulthood, creating some painful chapters that robbed me of many opportunities. In no time, my self-esteem graduated from low to invisible.
My turning point came the moment the word of God took root in me and I resolved to reject the fear of rejection and believe in myself no matter what. The light bulb of revelation had finally come on. I made a conscientious effort to start the change from within me. In no time, the layers and excess baggage that weighed me down for many years started falling off one day at a time.
A BETTER PERSON EMERGED FROM THE DUNGEON OF BULLYING
Today, I can look in the mirror and say to myself, "Thank You Lord; I am beautiful!" I truly appreciate the way God made me. I love myself, I do what makes me happy and permit what enters my space. (If you do not guard your space, shenanigans will guard it for you.) If God was not on my side, who knows the other options I would have thought to cure the pain bullying birthed in me? No matter what you are going through, the first step to recovery is believing in yourself. Forget what the world says about you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
It is imperative we form and maintain the habit of using words wisely. What we say to others matters a great deal. We can make or break ourselves and others with our choice of words. Let us be a part of putting an end to all forms of bullying today.