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Strength in Numbers: How My Friends Helped Me Survive

By Cultures Of Dignity | August 25, 2016

In our travels around the country, we meet incredible young people who share their stories. This one of them.

By: Jeffrey Bi // Florida

The event that marked my transition from childhood to adulthood took place several years ago during my seventh-grade year. This event did not span several days or weeks even; rather, it spanned the entirety of my first through seventh-grade years. Although this time period may seem large, this period was all part of a build up to a sudden realization.

Starting in the first grade, every morning I would board the bus and be called names and pushed around. This would happen until I gave into what they were saying or someone else stood up for me. At the time, it held no significance to me because I always thought it was a joke. Going through first, second, third and fourth grade like this, I became desensitized to the constant badgering that I went through on a daily basis.

However, it didn’t end there, during fifth and sixth grade the bullying got worse. During these two years, I would have kids physically pick on me through the use of the pokes—or even worse—the pinch! However, in all seriousness, I would be poked, shoved into lockers, have my seat taken from under me, and have my books knocked out of my arms. To make this even worse, I was too afraid to speak out against these actions in fear that they would get worse. After two years of this punishment for having done nothing wrong, the bullies decided to move onto a different kind of torture moving from physical bullying to mental bullying. Of all of the years of torture that I had been previously subject to, the seventh grade was the worst; six years into the physical abuse, I had grown accustom to the shove or fall here and there, but during this year, I was subject to alienation through the use of rumors and names. Here I was, a healthy kid with a seemingly bright future, spending nights contemplating suicide in seventh grade due to the physical and mental cruelty that I was subject to.

That was when I finally decided to say my last thanks to a group of friends. Then in that moment, those friends, whom I never thought I would see again, banded together to support me. By listening to my story and talking about their grief, they showed me that I was not alone in my problems and that life was worth living. These friends showed me that with the right people around, I could put an end to all the suffering that I had been through. This transition led me to realize that there are many people out there in the school, town, city, state, and country that were just like I was. Furthermore, my growth showed me that if these people had someone around who was willing to listen and talk to that maybe, just maybe, they would reconsider what they were going to do. This caused a fundamental shift in my thinking from childlike thoughts—only one in the world with this problem—to more adult-like thoughts—helping people to survive what I had survived. This maturation in my thought has led me on more than one occasion to be there to listen and talk to. This enabled me to help people realize that they are worth more than a simple phrase or word and that with right people around them, they can turn their lives around for the better.