*Please remember, that bullying is NOT as black and white as being picked on, or being physically hurt. It comes in all shapes and forms. Whenever you’re being made to feel unworthy, talked down to, or mistreated in any way, THAT is bullying. And it happens everywhere, every day. It needs to stop.*
I grew up and went to a school where being a little bit different, was just about the worst thing that you could be.
If you know me, regardless if you’re an acquaintance or a close friend, you would probably agree that i’m a little different. I’ve always been a bit weird. And I totally blame my father for it. For he is also a weird man (you are fully missing out if you haven’t seen him in my Insta stories).
Unfortunately, that’s about as funny as this blog post gets, because this is sadly, a serious topic.
And one that has given me some pretty bad memories that I have carried with for most of my life.
High school graduation, 2009
I was always an athlete. I played soccer (badly), badminton (extremely well), volleyball, track, rugby, etc, the entire time I was in school. In both my junior high and high school, students were very much separated into groups. Either you played sports, or you didn’t.
If you played sports, you were considered part of the ‘in crowd’ and if you didn’t, then no big deal, you just weren’t in with us. (It’s laughable that I say ‘us,’ because that would include me, and I certainly was not included).
Imagine being a part of a sports team, spending every single day after school with them, and being deliberately ignored or talked down to whenever you said something. Every single f*ing day.
Without going into too much detail, who said what, or who treated me like shit, let’s just say that I hated going to school every day. And you think girls can be mean, but trust me, guys can be meaner. Especially if you were dating said girls.
Even though I was part of the athletes/sports teams, my teammates and (for a time), ‘friends,’ were never that nice to me. It probably had something to do with my short shorts that I used to wear (YA, STILL WEAR EM), my sarcastic jokes that no one understood (STILL MAKE EM), and the fact that I would wear silver leggings from American Apparel to school. Basically anything that made me, ME, was grounds for not wanting to be associated with me at all. Fine.
I dreaded being dropped off in the mornings, and having to wait around for those torturous 15 minutes before the bell rang for class to start. Every single day I would slowly unpack my stuff, put it in my locker, and walk towards the foyer where I knew everyone else was hanging out.
When I would get there, not a single person would look at me, make eye contact, or say hello. It was a nightmare, standing there by myself, trying to disappear. I felt so unhappy. I didn’t belong. But I had no where else to go. This was before we could stand around and look relatively busy on our cell phones. Sometimes I would go into the athletes locker room and just sit on the bench until the bell rang, just so I wouldn’t have to stand around by myself.
During my time at high school, we got our house egged three times. I got specifically uninvited to parties. I got laughed at behind my back, and to my face. I was shunned, given the cold shoulder by anyone who wanted to be ‘in’ with the cool kids.
Just because I was a little bit different. A little bit loud. A little bit too out there.
Even though I felt like this, I still loved sports, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop me from playing. I soon realized I wasn’t half bad at rugby, and decided to join a club outside of school. After the season ended there, I decided to dedicate all my free time to training for rugby. Rather than spending my days after school at volleyball practice with girls that hated me, I went to the club and ran sprints back and forth for an hour.
I starting working out 3-4 days a week, and running 4 mornings a week. I soon became stronger, fitter, more confident and assured of who I was.
High school rugby
Even though people at school didn’t like me (and even some girls at my rugby club, HA), I still had my health, my strength, and my sport. Playing rugby honestly did everything for me. It gave me something to look forward to. It helped me take all that negative energy, and put it towards something that would hurt, but in a good way.
It completely changed who I was and how I lived every single day. It gave me purpose. It gave me clarity. It showed me that I was more than some girl at high school who everyone loved to roll their eyes at for laughing too loud. I was a proper athlete, and I was more than what anybody could EVER say about me.
I promise you, fitness changed my life.
When it was finally time for me to move to Vancouver to start my undergrad degree at UBC, I was terrified. I HAD to leave Calgary. I hated the city and the city hated me. There was no future for me there.
But if people in Calgary didn’t like me, then why would Vancouver be any different? Was I going to spend another 4 years being ignored and shunned by everyone?
Short answer: NO. It was nothing like high school.
UBC rugby, 2010
I made more friends in that first month than I ever made in Calgary. My rugby team actually LOVED that I wore short shorts to practice. They thought it was hilarious, and NOT in a mean way. They took me under their wing and gave me the confidence to love who I was.
The girls in my residence saw past my weird outfits, the fact that I would bike in heels, and laughed louder than was publicly appropriate. They liked me, for ME. That was also a hugely defining moment in my life. It confirmed for me that the reasons people back home didn’t like me wasn’t because I was an unlovable person. It was all on them. They couldn’t get past their own prejudices.
Fast forward 8.5 years later.
I used to hold onto all that hate that developed in me during my time in high school. I told myself I would never forgive my fellow students for putting me through what was the worst 3 years of my life.
But in the end, high school is high school. It’s shitty. The people who I went to school with are not the same people they are today. At least I hope. (There are a couple people I think will never change).
I’ve wanted to share this story for a long, long time. One thing that held me back was the fact that it almost seems unlikely that I would have this story to tell. My mother would say that people would look at me, and just see a pretty and confident girl. They wouldn’t think I was one who got bullied and ignored.
What made me finally let go of all that anger was coming to the realization that I am actually so INCREDIBLY happy. And so much of that happiness stems from you guys – my readers, my clients, and my followers.
No matter what I went through at a young age, I came out a better person because of it. Fitness and sports opened so many doors for me. It allowed me to model for massive international brands. It gave me this blog. It gave me the chance to quit my job, and pursue fitness and health full time. But the very best part of it all is this:
I was able to do all of it, by staying true to who I am.
I never once changed my style, my laugh, and most importantly, my personality, because of what people said about me. I fully believe that the more different you are, the more successful you will be. Even if it means a few years of being picked on or talked down to – you can never let it get to you.
I sincerely hope that this goes out to all the girls and boys who are dealing with the same thing right now. If you know someone who is getting bullied, please pass it onto them.
Know that everything happens for a reason. That these situations will ONLY make you stronger. And if you can persevere and push through the judgments, the unkind words, and the bullying, you will turn out to be an amazing person, doing amazing things.
From that unhappy and lonely 16 year old girl, to a confident, driven 26 year old woman – I promise you that.