I have been bullied. Yes, and I am not ashamed to say it. Actually, it makes me even stronger every time i say it. It has transformed this way. Today I will be sharing with you what has helped me to overcome that. If you have experienced some form of bullying in your life I am pretty sure that you will know exactly what I am talking about.
What triggered me to write this article is a scene that I saw the other day outside a bakery, where three young persons were pushing another young person caught up into the middle. I stepped in and stopped them and I gave them a ten-minute (audience based) lecture. But that scene reminded myself, many years ago and because I am completely self-aware of who I am anymore, I feel compelled to share my story with you and make a positive influence towards someone’s life.
Some personal events during my childhood left me in a vulnerable state and an obese child. Awareness of bullying back in the 90s early 00s, was severely lacking in contrast with today. I have been bullied verbally, physically and most of all emotionally from my fellow students. No internet back then, so cyber bullying was not an issue, in contrast with today which cyber bullying is taking the lead from the other forms of bullying.
I will try not to go into detail for the bullying effects on me or what acts of bullying I have experienced as I want to emphasize how I have overcome the consequences from bullying in a pursue to help others which may have experienced or experiencing still some form of bullying. I will say this - you’re not alone!
Initially, I thought that the bullying I was experiencing was some form of a game (which I was the weakest link!) – It was not. As I said in the beginning, bullying wasn’t a thing back in the time, so I wasn’t really aware in the beginning that this could have a term on its own. It started from primary school and continued high school. On the first year of high-school I realized that I was bullied. Rough times!
Being an obese kid, it was what triggered the bullying through my school years. Being an obese child was not only a physical discomfort but it had many other factors as well, such us low self-esteem, vulnerability, lack of interest for many things (athletics), self-victimisation etc.
I can tell you now that I was pretty good on hiding the bullying that I was experiencing from my father. Although not an expert on the matter, I believe that the persons receiving bullying are becoming experts on hiding the truth from the people that they could do something about it. This can be from the fact that more bullying will then be triggered if the truth comes out or maybe the fear of disappointment in the eyes of our parents…
Who has not watched any of the movies of Rocky starring Sylvester Stallone. I don’t believe there’s a person on earth that has not watched at least one movie from the Rocky series or seen a poster with Stallone been overwhelmed winning Creed or Clubber Lang. Well, as you can understand I was a big fan of Rocky (I am still). I was always admiring the scenes of training before each fight and the overwhelm in Stallone’s face when winning the fight. And it triggered. Something inside me sparked. Something so powerful to drive me and start my fight against obesity. The hardest fight of my life.
GO – GO – GOOO
I simply and sincerely cannot emphasize enough how hard it was. I was a heavy fella. Let’s don’t forget that I was also experiencing the bullying during school time, therefore, it was pretty tough. I remember myself, going running at 1000 at night, wearing rubbish plastic bag under my clothes so I would sweat more, ergo, melt more fat. The reason that is was going so late it was because I was ashamed of myself for who I was. Self-esteem at the time was very low – but you know what? I was doing it. I was pushing this through. I was going every night for running. I remember myself when I was running visualizing myself like Stallone in Rocky, sprinting down the road followed by a group of children around him cheering GO – GO – GOOO. I was going!
My self-esteem was rising. The fat from my body it was melting fueling up my inner fire even further. I remember my self not being able to do even 5 push-ups (I can do 100 now in one go ). My running gone improved and I begun to run during daylight.
The results from my commitment were obvious. My bullies were noticing the transition, although that didn’t stop them for attempting to bully me again. Noticed the word attempting? I will never forget that moment. That guy came to my face saying that I gave him the look. I told him that he was wrong. He pushed me violently in the corner and without thinking about it I punched the guy twice. Floor became red from the blood from his nose. I think, that moment Rocky Balboa kicked in. His friends came to me and I said to them who’s next? And no one attempted to make the first step. WoW! I was in shock. Those were the same guys that they have bullied me for more than 3-4 years. Boom!
It is amazingly remarkable how with a single act towards a bully, the switch on my bullies behavior changed radically. I wasn’t expecting from them, of course, to apologize to me for all the years of bullying but the behavior was changed 360 degrees. Heck, they were buying me a sandwich at the break.
I’m - POSSIBLE
As the years were passing by I was challenging myself in every possible way. I remember myself running on the mountains to get stronger legs, I remember myself winter time, near Christmas, going for running at the coastline and then swimming into the cold rough sea. Diving, swimming, running, martial arts, CrossFit; you name it, I tried it! I got stronger and stronger and stronger. I didn’t wait the stars to align to take the step and try something new. I was just doing it. Every challenge got me stronger. Physically but mostly mentally. I remembered once that I went for a run barefoot in the (dry) Salt Lake in the middle of the day in the middle of the summer. I did manage to finish my run, although with severe burns under my foot. Stupid? Maybe. Got me stronger? Most definitely.
Here I am then, 33 years old, having an incredible physical condition, acquired through the years and following certain daily rituals with discipline and consistency. A successful Fire Service Manager, owner of a newly established company and a proud family man (what I consider my biggest accomplishment). I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I wouldn’t be where I am now if I wouldn’t take the first step. I fought through the demons and I feel proud that I have managed to eliminate the demons from a young age on my own. Its not easy. He or she claiming its easy its not. Behind the scenes is where all the work is done.
Break the chains
If you are reading this and if you have ever been bullied in your life or if you are being bullied you need to step up now. You need the break the chains that holding you down. You need to speak up for this – seek for help or advice. Don’t be afraid as you will be a prisoner of those people and experiences for the rest of your life. You can do it and you must do it!!!
If you are a parent please, please, please educate your children in regards to bullying. It is up to us as parents to raise our children to become strong adults and let them following their dreams into this beautiful chaos called life.
I do hope that you have gained something positive by reading the above.
Thank you for your time.
Avgoustinos Hadjiyiannis GIFireE | MInstLM
CEO | FSTP Cyprus Ltd