I first experienced bullying at age six. I was a new student and when I walked into my first-grade classroom, there was a group of girls pointing and making fun. I had forgotten my gym shoes on the very first day, so I was mocked. Around that time, I was also undergoing child abuse from an adult, which lasted roughly five years. As the years went by, the bullying did not stop for me and for one of my friends that was constantly bullied in high school. I quickly realized all of the of bullying taking place at my school. I was astonished by what was going on around me, which led me to do some research. My experience with bullying, as well as what I found throughout the research I did; it changed my life.
When I was nine, enough was enough. I was done watching others be crippled by mean words. It took me several years to rebuild my self-esteem. At the time I did not know who I was, so I let those around me shape what I thought of myself. I strived to be someone who I was not. Typical days in the classroom consisted of hurtful words, rude remarks, and constant mocking. Even when I tried getting help by telling a teacher, they shrugged it off as if it were child’s play. It seemed as if things would never get better. It got to the point where I refused to look at my own reflection because I was disgusted by what I’d see.
I was bullied all throughout elementary and middle school. I am now a freshman in college and to this day, I still struggle in certain situations. When I was bullied, I was extremely insecure, especially in school. At a young age, I learned how to isolate myself and keep my feelings locked away from where I could be judged. I also struggled in grade school, because the idea of going to school filled me with anxiety. I never thought I was smart enough. I always thought that I would never be good enough. It was not until I started researching and creating a foundation for G.A.B. Girls where I realized something huge; that I wasn’t alone.
In 2010, I founded G.A.B. Girls, Girls Against Bullying Girls. Since then, I have hosted more than 75 workshops for over 1,350 kids. I have developed three main workshops that can involve multiple age groups for both boys and girls. I have always said that I was never happy about being bullied. However, I know that if this did not happen to me, I would not be who I am today. A big part of why I want to be a Family Lawyer is because of what I went through. I want to give back to hurting families and children. I do not want to see others encounter what I did, or worse. I also would not have had the opportunity to be doing what I am doing with G.A.B. Girls. I did not start G.A.B. Girls for publicity or self-gain. I created G.A.B. because I wanted to help my childhood best friend who was undergoing bullying. I also wanted to help those around me struggling with the same problem that I was.
It is crazy to think back on when I was just starting my non-profit organization. You would be surprised how many people shot me down because I was “too young” and “too inexperienced.” I was always told no and that my age was a restriction. It took the right people at the right time to help me take action with my goals that I had set for myself. My main source of support came from my family who never stopped believing in me. As I started to grow my social impact, my community followed behind me. I firmly believe that it takes a community to help you get where you want to go. I would not be where I am without my community consistently having my back. It does not matter how old you are. If you have the resources, dedication, and a solid plan, you can do anything you set your mind to. This message is something that I try to teach our youth; if you have a dream, go for it.
Any type of bullying is not easy to go through. I know this because not only have I been a victim, but I have been a survivor. I have witnessed my friends and family who have had to deal with the aftermath of what bullying can really do. It is devastating to see others trying to tear down those around them just to build themselves back up. In any given situation, we must remember to be kind. You never know what someone may be going through until you take a walk in their shoes. If we show compassion and promote that bullying will not be tolerated at any level, we will make a difference in the world around us. One of my favorite quotes from Gandhi is, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I hope to do just that.
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