make life sparkle

How 10 Years of Bullying Was One of The Best Things To Ever Happen to Me.

When I was 10, I remember thinking ‘I’m so glad the bullies don’t bully me.’ Getting bullied to me looked like one of the hardest things to go through. I remember witnessing kids being teased for their buck teeth, smelly clothes, slow running and reading skills. I was never bullied in primary school. I loved school, I was one of those kids who counted down the holidays until school would start again.

Mum reminds me that the teachers described me with these words: happy, enthusiastic, leader, loud, outgoing, driven.

When I finished Grade 6, it was time to move to high school. My 2 best friends were enrolled in to a catholic private school and I was going to our local public school. I wasn’t that afraid (only a little), at the thought of heading in to a new school with no friends. I was excited at the thought of meeting new people and learning new things. During my high school years I’d still stay best friends with those 2 girls, catching up on weekends and hearing about their very different all girls school experience.

During the first couple of weeks of high school I remember sitting at lunch with a group of girls. All who talked about boys, make up and clothes. I was naïve, new to this talk but tried to go along with it. These girls were the ‘popular’ group. I’m serious, that’s what I thought. The reason all I (and I know others did too) titled this certain group as ‘popular’: the boys liked them, they wore the latest fashion (slash Supre clothing) and they proved their power by putting down others.  I was kind of afraid of them.

I definitely DID NOT fit in, nor did I really want to fit in. I was placed in other classes to these girls anyway, what they would have called the ‘nerdy classes’ and I thank whoever was looking out for me that I was placed in these nerdy classes. Here I met some of my best friends still to this day.

Year 7 passed quickly and although I felt uneasy at school, I still enjoyed each day. When year 8 came along things changed a little. At some point in time, my friendship group evolved in to something else. My friends were no longer my friends. Instead they decided to create drama in our group. The drama included bullying. It was a case of: let’s see how we can make Carla feel stupid, ugly, little, dumb and as if she would rather be invisible. If you asked me now, I would come back and tell you well no one MAKES you feel a certain way, it all lies within… but I was unaware of this ‘wisdom’ at age 13.

I didn’t let it slide though. I told my family and got teachers involved. The teachers were witness to it. How the bullies (yes, my ‘friends’) would single me out in front of other students. Tease me for my ‘big’ nose, my muffin top and how I was the teacher’s pet (aka getting all the answers right and super enthusiastic…).

Carla Papas
10 years, 13 years, Now.

I recall a meeting one certain teacher had set up to ‘work through’ the current situation. And the advice the teacher gave me was to “be less happy and cheerful around these certain people… it’s your happiness that annoys them and makes them want to put you down.” No joke. This is word for word and I will never, ever, forget that moment.

It was then that I realised the teachers kind of weren’t going to help the situation.

Year 8 passed and my way of dealing with the bullies was to avoid them at any cost. I continued to avoid them for the rest of my life until one day I walked past a bakery, saw one of the girls and smiled. That day I forgave her for the years of hell I experienced.

Throughout year 9 and 10, I was known as: the loud, annoying, drama kid. Though I also made very best friends with 2 beautiful girls (who are STILL my 2 very best friends). For them, I am grateful. We allowed each other to be ourselves, to grow and to just enjoy our teens!

three ems
My 3 very best friends celebrating my fairytale 21st birthday!

That’s not to say I wasn’t bullied throughout those years. I continued to be tormented about my big nose, my goody two shoe ways and the clothes I chose to wear. I remember seeing a comment on MySpace about my year 10 formal dress. A bully wrote “spot the goldfish LOL!” my dress was sequinned sparkly orange… I looked great. In my year 10 year book I was also voted ‘Most Annoying’… how the heck this kind of stuff gets through the teachers beats me. If you are a teacher and are reading this… please, please, double check the year books for this kind of nastiness.

Carla_formal
The ‘gold fish’ dress… which is actually amazing!

College came (that’s year 11 and 12 for us here), my 2 beautiful best friends came along and I was reunited with one of my best friends from primary school… THAT was exciting. 

College was when I discovered boys and drinking and parties and short shorts! I’m talking short short shorts! And although I had my support network of girlfriends I still attracted some haters. It got more violent during these years and that is scary to remember: bottles were thrown and shins were kicked. Not by me. 

I’d grown a thick skin though and I wouldn’t let them see how upset it made me. Rather, I bottled it down and acted tough, brushed it off, started each day anew and did my very VERY best to not attend the same parties or walk the same corridors. 

Year 12 graduation came and FINALLY, it was time to get away from bully territory. I was due to start my Advanced Diploma in Public Relations and I was ridiculously excited. I had my future all figured out: I was going to represent celebrities and go to fancy dinners and schmooze the world! Yep! I had it all figured out!

I didn’t think bullies existed post year 12. I thought we all grew up and became nicer humans. How wrong I was! During my first year of study here I was bullied again. And not by the normal perpetrator. This time, a 24 year old boy. It was the same ole, same ole: big nose, un-designer clothing and drive for good grades. You’d think I would be used to it but these comments still stay with me today. In fact… this ongoing torment about my big nose led me to get plastic surgery. I’ve never told you that. 

I say I was lucky but maybe someone or something heard my call for help… he dropped out after the first semester. He really got me down… to the stage where I didn’t want to attend class, where I didn’t want to wake up. Bed was the better option than living.

I started working full time in the government 6 months prior to finishing my Advanced Diploma, I then went on to graduate from my Bachelor of Public Relations too. Did you know I had a comms-y background? Now you do!

I thought I’d said goodbye to bullies for good but still my workplace was full of them. Not the usual kind but the more sly and sneaky kind. The one’s that spoke ill of my work behind my back and the one’s that would manipulate my words to be something they’re not. The kind of people who are just out to climb their way to the top so they can go home to their big house and shiny car. And no, not everyone was like that… I still have many good friends from this workplace, all I am saying is some.

Fast forward 3 years later to when Em and I started merrymakers. The bliss finding stage of my life. Oh, I love this stage! And it wasn’t until I reflected on my journey during a meditation that I realised just how much little Carla had gone through.

emma and carla
#followyourbliss

In all honesty, these times were complete crap. There’s no way to make excuses for them and I know that they will forever be in my brain as memories of hard moments. BUT… I also know that these situations happened for a reason. They helped shape the person I am today. Heck, they have shaped my mission in life.

I feel compelled to share my story because I know, oh how I know, I am not the only one out there who has experienced this. I know that it’s happening this exact moment I write. Like me, many have overcome the bullies, but what upsets me the most is that I know there are others that won’t or that never did.

I’m not here to share how to deal with the bullies because there is no right or wrong way to deal with them. In my mind, it just shouldn’t be happening full stop. But I can thank my mum, forever reminding me that “they’re just jealous” – whether they were or weren’t, this reminder helped me through. I also encourage you to speak up and speak out. Tell someone, make a scene. Bullying is not ok. And although my teachers didn’t help me, speaking out about it did. A problem shared, is a problem halved. 

this too shall pass

I also want to remind you all that ‘this too, shall pass.’ High school, college, uni, workplaces aren’t forever and neither are bullies. It will pass and I encourage you to focus on YOU and spreading your light. If anyone ever asks me what I’d tell my younger self if given the chance… that would be it. This too, shall pass. The moment I stopped allowing these bullies to take up space in my head and my life, was the moment I allowed more magical friendships to blossom. 

After all of this, you’d think I would steer clear of putting myself out there. Quite the opposite. These hard times I had to go through have inspired me to find my bliss and follow it. To speak my truth and inspire a happier, healthier world. 

I look at the messages and mission of The Merrymaker Sisters and notice that within each is the encouragement to be true to who you are and to celebrate our uniqueness. To find the light within and shine it bright across the universe! I see the movement towards filling this world with love and kindness… because that’s what the world needs more of. That there is never, ever, ever an excuse to put someone or yourself below or above another. That I am you, and you are me, and we are one.

Always merrymaking,

Carla 

P.s thank you to the bullies that inspired this post. I forgive you.
P.p.s If you do need support there are always many options, whether it be a friend, a blog or LifeLine.

MERRYBODY

Move your body, find your joy,
and reignite your love for life.

MerryBody

Move your body, find your joy,
and reignite your love for life.