Photo Credit: Mathew Wynn Lightbulb!
I was never bullied. I mean, I was called light-bulb and stopped doing anything to prove people wrong in sixth and seventh grade, but that's different, they didn't mean it as a bad thing. And my bag was stolen in tenth grade, and people laughed when I spoke, and hid my things, but that was different. They didn't mean me any harm. And...
I don't have a very long list, but it's long enough. After all, there are reasons I never spoke or did anything around others for the entirety of my childhood; I was constantly shut down. Throughout it all, I never thought any of it was bullying. I was popular enough, and at times people did stand up for me, one time they got in a fight for me. But all these things that were done with the best of intentions had disastrous consequences in my life. I stole answer books, I missed out on the opportunity of a life time, my dad thought I was lying about my bag and I just wanted contacts, and so on and so forth.
The people doing these things never had wicked intentions. And to be honest I've done similar things. I've apologized for some, but I don't think it's possible to apologize for everything. But regardless of intentions, bullying is bullying, and it is harmful, causing long term psychological damage.
Unfortunately, many individuals are like me, not recognizing the bullying as it happens and not standing up to it when it happens to others. We have this idea of what a bully looks like, but the reality is that any one can be a bully, they don't need to be physically aggressive and go after the quiet kids. Bullying is complex, just like all forms of abuse. So next time someone approaches you about a bullying problem, take it seriously. Bullying doesn't have to look like bullying.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Founder and Executive Director of Life in My Days, Inc. He is the co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, and a Novelist. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.