When I was in middle school, I did not really have friends. The other pupils did not seem to like me a lot. They were often making fun of me, of what I was doing, of how I looked, calling me names. I was excluded from any group or after-school activities, always being the last one to be picked in teams.
I never talked about it with my parents or any adult. I thought it was not an important enough problem. They surely had better things to do than deal with me. I also did not think it would change anything.
I was isolating myself to avoid being hurt more. I was avoiding talking to my parents so they would not worry about me. I often wore a fake smile on my face.
I managed to go through middle school, and high school, but it was not easy. It made me lose all my confidence. I felt I was useless, worthless. I would often come back home and cry in my room. Sometimes, I would think that it would be better for everyone if I just disappeared.
It is only later that I put words on what happened to me: bullying. In some countries, it is punished by law. But even now, despite still suffering from its impacts, I struggle to use that word because I can’t help but think that, compared to other people, I did not have it that bad.
Back then, I did not do anything about it because I was not aware of what it was and what solutions I had. Now, I wish I tried to talk about it with teachers or my parents. Maybe it would have helped stop it. Or I would have changed school, where I would fit in more. Maybe I would have gone to a therapist to help me with my struggles. I wish another student would have tried to make the others stop, or be nice with me and stand by me. All in all, I wouldn’t have suffered in silence.

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