I am so excited to introduce our May Lady of the Month to you today! Catie Kelly went to my high school, Jamestown High School. Catie, like myself and many other young women, was a victim of bullying. However, after the all the hardship, Catie is now a full time student at Virginia Commonwealth University studying Public Relations. She is here to share her inspiring story with Lady Code!
Meet our May 2014 Lady of the Month, Catie Kelly:
Education: Virginia Commonwealth University
Occupation: Full-time student & summer nanny
Color: Black- classic and versatile
Fragrance: Currently loving L’Eau d’Issey Florale by Issey Miyake
Food: Almond butter!
Book: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Movie: Love and Other Disasters
How old were you when you first became a victim of bullying?
I was in middle school when I experienced bullying for the first time.
How did you first respond to bullying?
I felt very confused at first because I considered this person to be my best friend. I thought maybe I did something wrong, but by trying to mend the problem I only motivated the person to continue. I didn’t understand why someone would want to tear me down so badly. Eventually, I began telling myself that it was my fault; if I were smarter, funnier, prettier, etc., people would like me and I wouldn’t be bullied. This opened the door for a whole host of insecurities. I had, inevitably, become my own bully.
How did you overcome bullying?
I don’t know if I would say that I necessarily overcame it. I was dejected and scared. I didn’t know what else to do, so I isolated myself. I went to the same high school as Lisa; the one she described in her story. I never felt like I fit in there but it was my constant fear of being judged that kept me from socializing with my peers.
I have only been bullied twice in my life, but both times it was by someone I was very close with. That was the most heart breaking part about it all and, unfortunately, this betrayal by friends is extremely common. Knowing who to trust is so difficult; you truly never know who might deceive you. When you give someone your heart, you are also giving them the chance to break it. That vulnerability is terrifying but in a way, it makes the friends who are loyal even more remarkable.
In the end, my experiences of being bullied have served as learning opportunities for me. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if I hadn’t undergone those hardships.
What would you like to say to your former bullies today?
As we learn and mature, we begin understanding the gravity of our actions. I try very hard not to hold resentment for those who have wronged me because, ultimately, we are all imperfect human beings with faults. I myself have made mistakes in the past that I would not want to be judged upon now. Therefore, I must give others the same benefit of the doubt.
I have an amazing quote from my favorite novel, The five People You Meet in Heaven by author Mitch Albom, hanging on my bedroom wall to remind me to remain humble. It reads, “Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that by hating someone we hurt them. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do to others, we also do to ourselves”. Perhaps one day my bullies will feel remorse for the hurt they have caused but I shouldn’t poison myself with hatred waiting for that day to come.
Do you have any advice for those who are currently victims of bullying?
This is cliché, but just hang in there. Time heals all wounds. In the meantime:
– Do not feed into the senseless spread of propaganda. Let them pollute each other’s minds with fictitious information. Their opinions do not define who you are.
– Don’t give your bullies the satisfaction of knowing they got to you. Grin and bear it, in front of them at least.
– Don’t alienate yourself. There’s a difference between keeping a low profile and being a recluse. I missed out on so much in high school because I thought I had to. My theory was, if everyone thought I didn’t care about anything then they would have nothing to tear down. I may have spared myself a few judgmental looks but in return I missed out on experiences that I can never get back.
– Life isn’t an episode of Sex and the City; you probably won’t have a group of fiercely loyal girl friends. Be cautious in deciding who receives your trust.
– If you have made one good friend then you are golden. One good friend is always better than twenty fake ones. I met my best friend in my junior year of high school. We were outsiders but we had each other. To this day, we remain the biggest supporters of one another.
– Lastly, be your own advocate; seek out help. I understand that reporting bullying may draw more attention to you but if you are feeling threatened or uncomfortable then something needs to change.
What can our readers do in the community to make a difference?
Try to refrain from gossiping. I realize that this is an incredibly challenging task and I would be lying if I said I don’t struggle with it. We have been raised in a society where trash-talk is not only accepted but considered normal. We are opinionated by nature and while that is a blessing, it can also be a curse. Consider what you are thinking, if it will do more harm than good then it is probably better left unsaid. A comment that may seem trivial to you could be distressing for someone else. We are all fighting our own battles; so, don’t make life any more difficult than it has to be.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
I’m currently studying public relations in anticipation of eventually working PR for fashion establishments and non-profit organizations. I also hope that in the future I will get the opportunity to travel, experience other cultures, and help those in need.
Who is your role model and why?
I don’t really have one particular role model. I am inspired by strong, giving, happy people that spread positivity despite the encompassing challenges of life.
Anything else you would like to share with Lady Code and its readers?
I think, as a community, it is our responsibility to better ourselves by raising awareness for issues such as bullying.
I am so thankful to Lisa for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on this critical topic. I feel honored to be amongst the beautiful and talented women of Lady Code that have presented such inspiring stories thus far.
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