How Bullies Gave Me My Most Successful Year

This month marks one year since the beginning of my last year at Colby-Sawyer.

Unsurprisingly,  I have seen a lot of posts, tweets, and so on with nostalgic musings. Also unsurprisingly, I didn't feel a lick of sentiment.  It is no secret that I didn't love my time at CSC - for a lot of reasons. But these waves of public nostalgia got me thinking, about the last year, about those two final semesters. It occurred to me, pretty quickly, that this has been my most successful year - in a long time, but maybe ever.

Here's the crazy part, it was also the hardest year of my life, hands down.

Backing up a little bit here... I have never been one to say I was bullied. Chiefly, because I had never really thought I had been. Yeah, at one point I was the chubby new girl from private school. But I never felt isolated because of who I was, or targeted simply because I was, or was not something.

But then by this time last year, I had to amend that thought.

In fact I spent the entirety of my last  year of college being talked about, treated like absolute trash, disrespected, and laughed at. And I wish I was kidding. And I wish I was being dramatic. And sometimes I wish this wasn't part of my story.

Because I was desperately unhappy. Devastated, can't eat, don't talk, wish-this-wasn't-my-life, unhappy.

But here's the thing, when I found myself surrounded by people who were cruel, disrespectful, selfish, and so focused on being negative and critical towards everyone around them, I saw how dismal a life that was. I saw how extremely unhappy they made themselves. I saw how they treated their siblings, their significant others, and their best friends, like they were inherently flawed, like they always must be seeking approval.

And I decided there was no way they were going to influence my life in a way that I would lose happiness, or opportunities, or anything because of them.

So I focused on school, and my internship, and reading good books. I competed in Miss Auburn, and then, Miss New Hampshire. I tried - and loved - new recipes. I dedicated myself to a workout regimen, and healthier diet. I fostered great friendships and relationships. And I found myself constantly recognizing how much I valued the truly kind, caring, funny, smart people that I had in my life.

I was more successful (guys, I graduated college, I got my dream internship, I placed 2nd Runner Up at Miss New Hampshire, I hit my goal weight, I eat broccoli regularly - c'mon) - I was more successful this year, while living in the most oppressive and destructive environment I have ever been in, than I have been in probably the 21 years that preceded it.

If I had to do it all over again, I don't know that I would.

It's hard to think that I would willingly put myself in a situation where people intentionally act maliciously towards me. But at the same time, I don't know if I would still have the amazing friendships that I have gained this year, or the experiences that have forced me to grow as a person, or even the appreciation for the good things that did happen this year.

I can't say I'm thankful for them. I'm not. I won't ever be thankful for them forcing me into a corner, emotionally, mentally, (and physically, if you consider how damn small those singles are.) I won't be thankful for the position they put me in, with my parents, and with my professors, and with my friends.

But I'm thankful for what it made me be. I know I wouldn't be the same person if I hadn't seen how negative, and cruel, and self-conscious, and horrible people can be. I'm thankful for the people that did care, and did remind me of the good things, and did support all of my crazy new endeavors. Because without those people, I surely wouldn't be able to sit here and say, that yeah, this last year, has been my most successful one...yet.

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