Out of every 4 children in India, 1 has been bullied.
I, unfortunately, was the one.
It all started when I was in 8th grade. I had felt lonely during the past year too but the bullying was nowhere in sight. I remember that day so well, it could've been yesterday. I returned to school from an international competition in Vietnam and the spotlight was on me. But somehow, something still felt off. Something had happened but I decided to not pay heed to it. One day, after a test, my best friends suddenly turned against me.
The feeling of loneliness crept back so suddenly and so violently,I actually felt scared and broke down during my SST class. I cried in front of the teachers while others went to play.
At that time bullying was a very hush hush topic, a taboo. Nobody talked about.
It started slow. I told my mom what had happened and she had a talk with their parents, but they still continued doing it. I lost most of my friends. For a whole year, I felt so scared and the will to go to school started to wilt away. Every morning, I heard myself say," I don't want to go school today." I would throw a few punches when my bullies pushed me to my limits, but they would leave no stone unturned to continue to hurt me.
From the ease to enter my class smiling, I would step in with fear glimmering in my eyes, wondering what I should be expecting today. I have spent hours muffling my cries in my bathroom, all alone without anyone so much as hearing my voice.
I lost everything. From debating in school, to participating in sports - I lost everything. My social anxiety kept on growing, leaving a mark on me with such a huge magnitude, I still cannot shake it off. I always think twice before speaking because I am scared of being back in that situation. I have spent sleepless nights in tears, rethinking everything.
My mental health was messed up for two entire years. I spent my 13th and 14th birthdays alone. I would come out of my room to cut my cake and went back in. My insecurities heightened and the feeling of loneliness still gives me goosebumps. I switched schools. My brother-best friend (Moni) still tells me how ecstatic they felt by making me move away from that school. But I couldn't switch my memories. Before I could alter my memories, they altered me.
I had a chat with the bully's sister and she told me how he framed me for everything. I was being blamed for being bullied.
It took time, but after 2 years, I started realizing that the insecure ones were my bullies. My mental health started getting back into shape in my sophomore year, all thanks to some great people( Moni, Tanvi ,Shaurya, Akansha, Tushar, Reeshan, and Varun).
The person I have become today is someone I am proud of. My self-confidence and my social anxiety is still not what it used to be, but at least I know how to manage it.
I want to end this letter by naming the cowards to whom this letter is dedicated- Pranav Dedha, Ronit Verma, Vishnu Mishra, Hardik Jindal and Shiven Chauhan.
Yours faithfully (but finally my own),
Written by Dev Srivastava
Best Submission- May 2020 in the Person(ally) and Time Shall Tell categories.