By Muhammad Faiz
I was a victim of bullying while growing up from being a child back then to being a young adult now. Being mocked, insulted, humiliated and ridiculed when I was in school was part of a phase of growing up, they say.
When I was in secondary school, I was studying in a boarding school where I can only go back home twice a month. During my first year of high school, I remembered one particular incident where my friend and I were punished for not cleaning our dormitory. We were asked to lie down on the balcony and glide ourselves around. Honestly, I had no idea that it was something that could be considered as bullying. As time passed, I realised that the actions taken were actually acts of bullying.
In my school, there were several times where I was physically bullied for doing something wrong or seemingly wrong for them. Usually, juniors comprising of students of forms one and two, were the ones who received order. Ironing clothes, washing clothes, and getting food for the seniors were some of the most frequent things juniors were asked to do and I experienced that. Been there, done that.
Shockingly, I was never mad for all of the physical bullying that I got. All of the incidents and the bullying were like coming in at one ear and out at the other one. For me, it was never a big issue as I had always been told by my peers and seniors that it was a phase. A journey that anyone studying in a boarding school would have to go through. However, I was wrong to think of it that way later on. It turned out to be the case of bullying too.
One of the things that still haunts me to this day is all of the verbal bullying that I got during my school years. During my second and third year of high school, self-esteem and confidence shattered. It is all because of my nickname that I never liked – “Jilo”, which came from an incident, as I forgot to put my stinky shirt in the laundry bucket and left it in front of my bed. The nickname never left me until I was in form four. It caused me to lose my self-confidence and it had been hard work for me to build my self-confidence and self-esteem ever since.
The thing about being bullied is that it can turn you into a bully too, at the end of it. It caused you to build a big wall and refuse to be bullied again. That is why I was dragged down to the pit as I jumped onto the bandwagon as well. When I was in my fourth and final year, I did ask my juniors to iron my clothes and prepare Maggi mee for me.
Whenever I was bullying my juniors, I always felt uncomfortable and guilty in my stomach yet I chose to ignore the feelings. I did not bully because I wanted to but sometimes I felt bullying as a means to show power. Indirectly, it did not portray me as a victim anymore and I wanted that. One of my best friends yelled at me for doing it but I did not mind it back then and now I feel like it was deeply wrong.
Reminiscing, I was very disappointed with myself when I was a bully. I never felt good about it because I felt it was a phase as what I had been told before but it was not any excuse. Whenever I visit my high school, I felt embarrassed to see any of the people I used to ask to run my errands back then. It was as if I could not see them ‘an eye to an eye’ as those moments keep replaying in my mind.
High school left me a little bit rough but it is not just that. The five years of my life was filled with a lot of memories, happy ones with some bad ones too in between. However, I choose now to cherish the happy ones and refuse to be defined as what I was in high school. Here I am, three years later still picking up the pieces and hoping to be the improved version of myself. ***