Your peanut butter and jelly sandwich is squished. Your Nutter-Butter is missing. Someone put sticky gum on your chair and to top it all off, your shoe laces were magically tied together without your knowledge. No, you aren’t sleep walking, you have a case of the bullies. Now, this may sound like an elementary school nightmare, but you’d be surprised how often things of this nature happen even in college!
If you think there’s no such thing as a bully in college, you’re wrong. These bullies may not come in the form of big-toothed kids pushing you down on the playground, but they still can be just as painful. Someone who makes fun of the way you dress or the way you talk is a bully. Someone who makes you feel pressured to buy certain things or be a certain way, is a bully. Now that you’re older and in college, you should know better by now than to succumb to being bullied. What you’re wearing is just fine, and the way you talk and do your hair is just fine too. The great thing about college is that there are so many different people coming together from all different walks of life. You can be whoever you want to be and not worry about being judged about how you look or talk.
In one of my first years of college, I had a group project in one of my Literature classes. I was excited since I had people from all over the world in my group, and that allowed me to find out new things about different areas I’ve never been exposed to. One of my classmates had just recently moved from a different country, and I enjoyed studying alongside her as she told me about her family traditions, home life, etc. As I was thrilled to be meeting new people, one of my group-mates was less fond of me. It may be because of the different “leadership roles” appointed within the project guidelines, but one day he even slapped me on the cheek…hard! Instead of being aggressive like I may have wanted to, I just told my professor and noted that I’d continue to be working in my group but just wanted to raise awareness of the situation. The next day, the professor talked to my classmate and the project was resumed. Of course the student was not happy with me after that, but there’s a fine line between working constructively and being bullied. Know that you don’t have to deal with any type of negativity and that you can always tell your teacher if someone is making you feel uncomfortable. Your professor may let you switch groups or arrange it so you can work alone.
If you run into someone who is trying to bully you in college, try as hard as you can to let it roll off your shoulder. These people are more than likely still struggling with finding their place in college and will soon realize that bullying isn’t something that is commonly accepted amongst the college population. You’ll really start to find your own footing within your first year and start feeling confident about who you are and who you want to be. You’re on a journey to adulthood and that leaves zero time for worrying about things that hold no footing. Be confident and spend your energy meeting new people and joining new clubs and activities. Focus hard on your studies and say something if you feel uncomfortable at any time. You’ll have so many new friends and great connections with your professors that you’ll feel far from alone.
Pulling your bully aside one on one and asking them if there was anything you did to upset them can be very helpful. Often times, bullies are dealing with things outside of class that they may be reflecting on other people. If you seem like a suitable target for them, they’ll pick on you to make themselves feel better. More than likely, your bully will only be acting out in front of other people but not when it’s just you and them. This may just be because they want to show everyone else that they are strong or un-breakable. Clearing any miscommuncations with your bully may allow you to understand them a bit better and not take the things they say or do so personally. You may even see that they could use someone to talk to and make a friend out of them! Keep in mind that everyone in college has to leave home and start fresh in a new place. Your bully may just be feeling alone or uncomfortable and need a friend to cheer them up. Stop looking at your bully as “the bully” and start trying to see them as a friend. You could find out that they’re really a great person after all.