By Janet Devlin
I've never been good at fitting in. All my life I've obtained the "weird kid" title, no matter what friendship circle or social environment I have come to find myself a part of. It was never the good kind of outcast like you see in the teen movies - the kid who was different but still managed to have a friendship circle - I didn't even have that. I was an easy target. I was the metaphorical fish in the barrel and the other kids had the gun. It wasn't my choice to be different, but it was a choice to not conform to who/what they wanted me to be.
I always liked Kurt Cobain's quote, "I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for what am not." It seemed apt given my situation. I experienced all types of bullying growing up - physical, mental, and cyber. My story isn't one of great advice, but just one of personal experience. I always get asked to shed some light on this topic and potentially help other people by doing so, however, I didn't take many of the advised measures.
People always say to tell a teacher, a parent, or an adult you trust. This was difficult for me to do. For when I eventually did confide in adults, they ended up abusing my trust and going against my wishes. I can recall one incident where a bully came into school and approached me angrily and exclaimed, "You told on me! The school rang my parents! You said you wouldn't tell!," or something similar, but bathed with colorful profanities. I beat myself up over this for weeks as if it were my fault and that I'd done something wrong. I ended up just sitting it out. I didn't change, I stayed the same, waiting on some environmental factor that would potentially elevate the situation. I got lucky. I eventually made a friend and my schedule got reassigned. Thankfully I shared very few classes with the old bullies.
Cyber bullying has become a part of everyday life for me. When I went on national television and put myself out into the realm of being broadcasted into the homes of people on prime time Saturday night TV, it was a guarantee that I would receive hateful comments on the internet. I don't mind. It's something that you inadvertently sign up for when taking on this career. I must admit, though, that in the beginning it was strange. Thousands of people I'd never met before would flock to the internet to spew hateful comments in my direction. To this day it's a regular occurrence. By being present on social media I have opened the flood gates to internet trolls. I don't pay attention to it, though. Nothing good ever comes from acknowledging their opinions.
If the internet has taught me one thing, it's to not feed the trolls. Does this excuse their behavior and their actions? No. So what am I doing about it? Well, I want to help others through their bullying by sharing my history with it. I've worked hand in hand with numerous children's charities, anti-bullying charities, and I've played numerous events dedicated to the subject. This year I worked alongside rap duo SHY & DRS to create the song "Beautiful to Me." It was the official song of National Anti-Bullying Week here in the UK. The video focused predominately on the issue of cyber-bullying. 20% of record sales went towards helping two charities called Childline and Ditch the Label. I feel that if what I've gone through can help even one person, then my experiences were not in vain and I didn't suffer without reason.
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