The other day, I was confronted by my past.
A girl I went to high school with in Bathurst left a message on my public Instagram page: “Did you hide behind being a bully too … because of your body image issues? You were so horrible to go to school with.”
This really made me think about my past and what I was like at primary and high school. Yes, this girl was right — I was a bully.
I went to an all-girls high school in the 90s and man, it was bitchy.
There were around 80 of us going through puberty, all in one courtyard. As you can imagine, there were some nasty things that were said and done. I never got to see how boys bully each other, but us girls can really be ‘mean girls’.
I finished high school in 2001 and, to be honest, I’ve put most of it behind me. But clearly the experience is still affecting my old classmate, for which I feel terrible.
During our school years together, I was constantly referred to as ‘the fat loudmouth.’
I was picked on by bullies and it was always about my weight. Maybe it’s a survival technique, but in turn, I was replicating that to her.
I’m not making excuses here, and I’m sure parents and teachers see this cycle over and over.
Listen: Famous Aussies write letters to their high school selves. (Post continues after audio.)
I was just like any other mean girl; I called people names and excluded classmates from our group if they didn’t fit in. I made people feel like s**t because that’s how I was feeling.
For this, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the things I said at school. I’m sorry for the things I did at school to upset or hurt you or anyone else.
I’m sorry I didn’t understand at the time what effect my actions had on someone else. I’m sorry I bullied her and others.
Maybe I was just following the crowd? Maybe I was just being a bitch? To be honest, I will never understand why I chose to act this way.
I hope one day to be a parent, and if my child comes home and says they’ve been bullied, I’ll at least have some idea of the cycle of this behaviour and I’ll tell them my story.
I’m not proud of it but I cannot change what I did at school, nor can I take away the pain that I caused this girl or anyone else.
But what I can do is tell my story in the hope young people won’t make the same mistake as me.
I’m proud of the person I am today and I wish I knew then what I know now. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?