Today is Pink Shirt Day. It’s a day celebrated annually around the globe and began in Canada in 2007 when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying. In September last year, I wrote a post about my own personal experiences with bullying. You can read that post here.
With Pink Shirt Day coming up, I re-shared my bullying post earlier this week. I also decided to share it amongst my workplace social media, hoping that in doing so it may help someone in the office to speak up, to know they’re not alone, or to simply spread the word about the impacts of bullying.
Sharing it lead to an interesting conversation with a colleague of mine who shared with me a story about a friend of hers. This person is still impacted by the bullying they encountered at school. It haunts them, and it prevents them from doing a lot. They are hesitant to get close to many people. They have low self esteem and they often feel like kindness received isn’t genuine. Like they don’t deserve the people that are in their life.
As she told me this story, I couldn’t help but feel a strong connection with this stranger and their story. So much of what she described felt familiar. I felt as though she was talking about me.
As I spent today preparing for tomorrow’s wrestling show, I got my hair dyed and covered myself in fake tan (yes, the orange glow is not natural… fun fact, I can’t actually naturally tan). But, as I begun the process that I’ve done for many years, I started to wonder why. Why did I start tanning? I haven’t skipped tanning for a single show in the past 10 years. That’s a lot of tan and for what benefit?
I quickly answered my own question knowing that it’s for my own benefit. I feel more confident and simply feel better with a tan. If the tan isn’t dark enough, I don’t feel as confident to step in-front of a crowd. Strange, as it’s just the colour of my skin but this may be because I’m still not 100% comfortable in my own skin. As the tan wears off throughout the month, I often begin to become less and less confident. The same can be said for when I’m close to needing to re-do my hair too. I start to feel uglier.
I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing. I know I should be comfortable in my own skin but equally, if it makes me feel good, then I think I should feel ok doing what I do.
Although, I used to want to shave my hair off because I felt ugly. I felt like I had the worst hair. Nowadays, I’m grateful I never did. I receive a lot of compliments on my hair. Often, because it’s purple.
The more I witness and experience bullying, and the more I get to meet and know new people, the more I’m discovering that the happiest people aren’t the “prettier” ones. They aren’t the ones who look “perfect”. The happier people I meet are the ones who are completely confident in their own skin. It’s those who, regardless of other people’s opinions around them, they still smile and say, “that’s your opinion, but I like who I am”. I admire those people immensely.
If there was one thing I would tell younger me, it would be to stop worrying about those opinions of others. Just be ok with being you. Easier said than done, of course. We cannot change others. We cannot stop them from saying hurtful things but what we can do is focus on ourselves. We can be mindful of our own language. We can be kinder to ourselves and to others. We can take a ‘no bullying’ stance and speak up when we see injustices in the world.
For more on my own experiences with bullying, see this post here.
If you need help or to talk with someone about what’s going on in your world, please reach out. You are not alone. Speaking out may just help another person from experiencing the same.