How being bullied in my past drives me forward

  • Posted on March 17, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
How being bullied in my past drives me forward

This is the first time I've ever written a blog and the first time I've ever really opened up about being bullied at school all those years ago. So here goes…

When I look back there are episodes of bullying that to this day still affect me and have contributed to the way I am as a person. Like the way I speak, when I speak, how I speak, what I say, what I wear… subconsciously I’m calculating everything I do from my past experience because it’s shaped me that much. In a way it’s really sad that it’s been that detrimental to my life.

All the bullying I endured took place in primary and secondary school. In primary school the bullying started when I was around 7 years old. The school I attended was quaint, and each class only had around 15 pupils or so; whilst it made it easy to know everyone, it also made it hard to just sink into the background and pretend I wasn’t there.

I recall in primary school there was one girl who to this day, unbeknownst to her, has helped formed the person who I am today. There were no big stand out events of bullying that I can pinpoint, it was just the consistent feeling of being isolated. The feeling of being excluded or made to feel different than others really made me question myself and made me insecure. What was I doing wrong? What did I say? What did I need to do differently to be accepted? I still to this day have no idea why I was the only person in my class that got this treatment. It was toxic.

Luckily, I never experienced any sort of physical bullying; it was all mental. It was the type of bullying that never went away though. It stayed in my head, it made me feel extremely sad at school and played on my mind when I was at home. I did bring it up with the teachers and headteacher but back in the 90’s there wasn’t so much understanding about children’s mental health and the support mechanisms just weren’t there. I felt as though they didn’t get it or understand how much it was affecting me… they did their best to help but their unsubtle style made it worse for me. Because I had sought intervention I then got bullied for ‘grassing’ and ‘telling tales’ which then made me feel like I couldn’t tell anyone because it would just make things worse.

At school you are trapped, you can’t not go to school, you have to go because it’s the law. Where in adulthood if you don’t like a job, or a relationship or whatever it is, you can just move on, but in school you literally can’t, you’re stuck there until you’re 16.

In secondary school the bullying took a new form, not only was there the exclusion and isolation but there was the addition of being verbally assaulted. Name calling and commenting on my appearance. There was not just one girl, there was a whole gang of them. Again, it wasn’t now and again; it was all the time… It was relentless. They would chant names at me at every opportunity. I remember feeling very worn down and defeated. It wasn’t great. However, I always had one weapon that made me happy and they could never take that away from me: I loved art. And no matter how much bother surrounded me, I always found art to be my therapy. I loved it! It made me happy and I was good at it. It was the only lesson that I didn’t get bullied in. Maybe it was the informal style of teaching that my art teacher adopted that made our class feel relaxed and less constrained, I don’t know. It was my favourite lesson and I felt as though I had confidence in this topic and this helped me.

As I bumbled through secondary school I started slowly to gain confidence and grow and learn. I pushed through all the sadness alone. I didn’t get help, I just buried it and got on with things the best I could. It made me feel more determined to prove that I could be more and I pushed myself. I’ve always been a very ambitious person and it’s because of my experience that I have this drive. I want to be better. I don’t want to be held back by them. I don’t want to be like them. So when making decisions now it comes from the feeling in the pit of my belly, the fire I have to be more and to overcome this.

And this is how I am today. I am driven forward by my past. It would have been best if I didn’t get bullied, but I did, so rather than seeing it as headwind that pushes me backwards, I like to think of it as a tailwind that has driven me forward and has helped make me who I am. I'm not going to lie, there are lots of things which have been a little harder for me at work. Finding my confidence, speaking up, putting my point across… but I feel that in my career and especially being at Avanade I’ve had the most amazing support which has helped nurture my self-confidence and get me to where I am today. I’m a huge advocate of talking and sharing stories.

Since instigating the anti-bullying campaign, I have spoken to lots of different people inside and outside of Avanade about this topic and it’s amazing and awful at the same time to hear about their stories. I say this because it’s obviously awful that people have to experience bullying in their lives but it’s kind of a therapy to be able to talk about it and hear of other people’s experiences. It makes me think that it’s not just me that has delt with this, it can affect anyone

My call to action is if you feel like something in the past has held you back feel, free to reach out to me and talk!

Jennifer Glover

Emma thank you for sharing you story! It’s so interesting how a few years in early life have such a huge impact to our existence in the present. I was bullied too and I empathize with what you went through and what you’re going through now. It’s a constant struggle against the mean voices in your head as you try to reach your potential.

March 28, 2021

paul bifford

This is a brave thing you're doing coming forward with your story. It's tough feeling like an outsider, but you do learn and adapt - in some good ways and some that could hold you back, as you've written. I certainly didn't endure what you did, but I got picked on and fought back. I think it made me more understanding and empathetic, and I'm happy to be available as well.    

March 23, 2021

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