The bright side of bullying by Arij, Tunisia

We were in Arabic class. I was in my 2nd year of secondary school and it was one of my favourite classes. I couldn’t help myself from contributing to the various discussions that took place in room 21 of Ibn Rashik Secondary School. I was sitting at the second desk of the right row. There were only four students engaged in the topic of discussion, including myself. The rest of the class didn’t care one bit about Arabic because it was “useless” in their eyes. They were all talking to each other and playing games, paying attention to the lesson was the least of their worries. Meanwhile, I raised my hand to get permission to speak, and as I was expressing myself, the chit-chatting in the classroom started to lower bit by bit.

I always struggled with self-confidence issues. What made the situation even more complicated was that I had a stutter when I talked in public, that’s why I avoided talking to people as much as possible, especially talking in public. It was at this particular moment when I started facing this fear of mine, somehow dealing with it. I don’t really know why the classmates suddenly started to put their attention on me as if they knew that I was about to stutter. Even though it was one of my worst nightmares, I’m glad that they did. The pressure of all their eyes staring threw me off. My voice started shivering. My palms were getting sweatier and sweatier as I tried to rub them off against the thick fabric of my cheap unstylish jeans. I was a complete mess.

As I kept stuttering, one of the “clowns” of our class started mimicking me in an overly exaggerated manner, and of course, everyone else burst into laughter. Now, I must tell you that I wasn’t a confrontational person. I wasn’t used to talking back to people, ever. However, in that specific moment, I surprised myself. I just couldn’t let him get away with it, not this time. I didn’t think that I had it in me to look at him straight in his big green eyes and say, “At least I’m contributing in a meaningful discussion unlike you.” Everyone stopped and stared at me. They didn’t expect me to respond. In their eyes, I was that awkward tall brown girl with small eyes who let everybody copy from her homework because she was too shy to say “no” out of fear of being “useless”.

But not anymore, well at that moment at least! I didn’t expect myself to respond. At that moment I realized the importance of unkind people who find pleasure in hurting other people. Don’t get me wrong! It’s never Ok to do so! However, if you look at it from a different perspective, you’ll appreciate them! Why? Because they put you in an uncomfortable situation, they push you to your limits, they help you discover what you’re really capable of, and they motivate you to grow as a person! This whole situation made me realize that my biggest problem wasn’t stuttering nor speaking in public, it was underestimating myself.

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