I was the weird kid. When I was younger, I was the one that didn’t fit in. I never really felt like I belonged. I was shy, I was easily intimidated, and I would prefer to go unseen than seen. That, of course, led for me to be the target of cruel peers. Peers who saw themselves over me, and me as an easy target. It led to being in Elementary school with very little friends. When I did have a friend, it led to me being insecure when that friend wasn’t around. I was always insecure. I always felt as if I was the target. Leaving Elementary heading to Middle school, it was the same way. I finally had a small group of friends, but somehow I could turn them away by my weird actions. I wanted to fit in so badly that I would try anything. But, I still never fit in. I had bucktoothed Mandy written on the gym bathroom walls. I was picked on by boys, because my legs where muscular. “EEEWWW gross, Mandy has boy legs!” I remembered my mom telling me to respond back, “You’re just jealous because you have chicken legs!” It was true, those boys did have scrawny legs. But I was never confident enough to stand up for myself. I just ignored it. Then there was the beginning part of High School. Let’s just say it wasn’t a fun time. Luckily for me, the last two years of High School was easier. You see, I had moved to two different areas after that school, so I made friends. I was new and different. I found who I was. My final High School was pretty awesome. It was different. I found a person I didn’t know existed. I joined JROTC… (If you knew me personally in my previous schools you would have screamed “WHAT!” ) But yup, I joined JROTC. I became a little more confident than I was back all those years before. I learned it was best to have a few friends that you trust with your life, than a squad of friends that you couldn’t rely on to be there when times got rough. Fortunately for me, later High School times didn’t bring on the bullying as in the earlier years. I was able to grow into me, and be comfortable. But, unfortunately, the earlier years of bullying stuck. I had a lot of self image issues. Up until I was around 28 – 30 years of age, I was still sensitive over my teeth and wanted to get them fixed. I was never happy with my legs, despite my husband always complementing them and saying how much he loved my legs. I have always had an issue with my appearance and well, all and all, me. To say you can love yourself but not be confident is an understatement. I was very happy with who I was, but I was not confident about it. It wasn’t until I started talking about bullying and trying to bring awareness about it that I truly started LOVING me! It doesn’t matter what others say. When someone puts you down, it only shows their own insecurities. I know that sounds like something from a meme or an inspirational book, but it’s true. Think about when you want to put someone down or criticize, it all stems down to you’re not happy about something in your own life. So let the critics and haters roll off your shoulders. Remember you are amazing the way God made you. You were not created to make them happy. You were created for greater purposes. And for parents who condone their children being bullies, or criticizing kids for not standing up for themselves, remember, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM! Not all kids were made to be defensive, maybe you should teach your child to defend rather than bully. Bullying doesn’t always lead to suicide or self harm, but it could lead to self destruction in adult life. Let’s stop it! It’s up to us to speak up and show the way. Sincerely, The Weird Kid.