Sticks, Stones and Strength

(Written by Swati Anshu, Edited by Neha Gupta)

This is a story about me: a part of me that hardly anyone knows…My name is Swati Anshu and I have been a victim of cyber, verbal and physical bullying.

My early childhood days were the hardest emotionally. Getting enrolled into OFS, I got into the swim team and my grades were decent. However, people took my effort and talent and made it into an object of mockery. I was constantly ridiculed, pushed and injured, just for being me. Name-calling was common and I got used to it, but when my seniors physically abused me, it became hard to carry on. Yet, I never fell into depression or self-harmed for the sole reason that I believed in a cycle: after challenging times to come better times, always.

Shifting to NPS in the 3rd grade, I thought it would be a new and better beginning. Then again – “I thought”. Despite the amazingly supportive faculty, I was not lucky in the ‘friendship’ area.

Until the 7th grade, I sat alone, read alone, studied alone and got used to the solitude. I learned never to rely on others; I did things myself because I never believed that anyone would ever understand me. I worked my hardest to get better at academics, sports, and arts in the hope that someone would recognize me.

Then it got to a point where people body-shamed me for being chubby. People threw food at me and made jokes. Scratched me, claiming to get the ‘fat off me. That was when I had had enough: I stopped eating. I hit puberty, gained height, and lost 15kgs. Now my BMI is perfect and I am proud of how I look and feel. Or so it should be. To date, I am insecure and any small comment brings back emotions bundled up for years. I feel like I haven’t done enough. Cyberbullying is why I do not have a main Instagram account and got WhatsApp only in the ninth grade.

A fear has culminated which has built a wall- a wall that only I can break.

The years of solitude (rather than loneliness) are what influence my decisions today. Despite having a wonderful group of friends now, I do not hesitate to do assignments and activities alone – that independence has produced a sense of individuality. I always strive to lead, and to develop my leadership skills; a leader is like a lone lion who can plan, formulate and execute ideas without much help and at the same time becomes a person whom others can trust and depend on.

Slowly my perception is changing. I am accepting myself more and more, recognizing my strengths and working on my weaknesses. I am the way I am. I am healthy, practical and independent. I still have insecurities and opinions about myself– that is because I am human. This dynamic life can flip towards good or bad anytime: all you can do is accept it.

Now my bullies have become my friends. I have a wonderful group of friends who support me and my pain is now the foundation of my hard work and dedication. Those who tormented me ended up developing crushes on me. That is when I knew that my personality transformed. I have attempted to see the brightness in my dark past- all I can hope is that I live up to the expectations I have set for myself.

I have shared my story as there are people like me. All I can tell you is to see the positive side of anything negative in life. I am not writing this for pity, but to make others understand that there are reasons that one may react in a certain way. If you don’t know their past, do not judge and never make it worse. To anyone who has gone through similar experiences or has feelings they want to share, I will always lend a listening ear. Sharing my story has made me accept myself more fully and I encourage you all to do so too.

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