Destroying the Bully

Destroying the Bully

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Create Your Best Future

Destroying the Bully

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.

~Indira Gandhi

If intentionally hurting another soul is part of human nature, then it is a concept I will never fully understand. Many bullies do not take the time to think about those they are hurting, or about what goes on behind the closed doors of their victims’ lives. One thing that I have happily discovered is that the ideal bully hates nothing more than if the victim is not shaken by attempts to harass and intimidate. A bully’s reason for existing is to be mean, and it is a shock to receive kindness in response. A bully does not understand friendship, but it is one of the most important aspects of life. By spreading kindness you can make friends out of even the worst enemies.

I experienced one of the worst forms of bullying: sneaky bullying. Fortunately for my bully — let’s call her Kristy — she was loved by adults who were easily fooled by her false compliments. I met Kristy the first day of art class. I loved art, but as excited as I was, Kristy quickly made me dread it.

When I entered that art room for the first time, I spotted the last open seat in the room and sat next to Kristy. Before I even had a chance to introduce myself, she looked at her friend and said, “Let’s move.” Assuming there must be something drastically wrong with the table, I followed. She looked at me oddly, and I assumed that it was because she didn’t know who I was, so I politely said, “Hi, I’m Ann.” She cracked a sly smile and replied, “Well, Ann, I’m Kristy, and my friend and I moved tables because we didn’t want to be near you.” That was the first snakebite.

For the next few days, I tried to avoid Kristy, but that only worked for a while. She began to poke fun at everything about me: my hair, what I wore, the way I talked, and how I created my art. I told my friends and family, and they offered some ideas like changing classes or talking to the school counselor, but even she loved Kristy. So I decided to attempt the impossible — I was going to make Kristy my friend.

“Kind words are short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless,” Mother Teresa once said, and I only wish I had known this when I first met Kristy because it would have made my solution much more obvious. I began to respond politely whenever Kristy threw a nasty comment my way. Instead of the silence or hurt face she expected, Kristy got a compliment thrown back at her. This inflamed her with more fury, and for a short time she criticized me even more, a sign that my plan was working. The conversation usually went something like this:

“Ann, I have to tell you, that is the ugliest picture I have ever seen. I mean, what is it? Another snakebite?”

“Well, Kristy, I think it’s really beautiful, and this blue paint I am using reminds me of that pretty shirt you wore yesterday.”

Eventually, my kind comments got to her, and she asked, “What is with you, Ann? Why are you being so nice to me?”

I responded, “Well, because I want you to be nice to me.” What happened next was amazing. It was like Kristy’s whole world flipped upside-down. Even her friend looked shocked by my courageous statement. The snakebites would soon end.

For a few days, the three of us sat in silence during art class, but it was Kristy who made the next move, saying, “Ann, I really like your shirt. Where is it from?” After that, the next conversation was easier, and the one after that even seemed natural. Eventually, Kristy and I knew all about each other’s lives and what boys we liked. I had destroyed the bully side of Kristy by making her my friend.

Kristy and I remained friends for a few years after our rough start and had some good times that led to even better memories. Although Kristy eventually moved away, she taught me a lot about myself and what matters most in life. Friendship and kindness are so important in life, and after my experience with Kristy, I know I will always have a friend no matter where I go, even if she at first appears to be a bully.

~Ann Virgo

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