‘A push in the hall, being thrown in the trash. I dreaded school. I would end the day in tears. It wasn’t going to change. Why? I was an easy target.’

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“A push in the hall, name calling in class, and being thrown in the trash. These were the things I could count on growing up in school. School was a place I dreaded being. I knew I would get made fun of, I knew I would end the day in tears, and I knew it wasn’t going to change. Why? I was an easy target.

Ever since grade school I had extremely thick glasses. They made my eyes huge, and they made me an easy target for bullying. Sometimes it was just name calling. Sometimes they would take my glasses off my face and see me wander around blindly trying to get them back. Sometimes they would settle for throwing me in the trash can. All I wanted was to go about my day in peace, maybe have some fun…but things only got worse.

Little boy who was bullied in school smiles for school picture
Courtesy of Nathan Webb

Eventually, it got bad enough, I started to try and act differently to fit in. In my head, if I acted like the rest of them, they might leave me alone. I told crass jokes, but no one laughed. I wore different clothes, but no one cared. I even started wearing contacts, but there was no change. I was the weird kid. I was the socially awkward kid. I was the play thing for when the cool kids got bored. I didn’t know what to do.  I was lost, I was scared, and I was in pain.

Depressed teen squats and smiles beside tree for photoshoot
Courtesy of Nathan Webb

My parents were heartbroken seeing their boy struggle so much, seeing their boy just want so badly to feel loved and safe at school. They tried talking to my teachers, but there is only so much a teacher can do. They tried talking to the parents of one of the boys harassing me, but that just made it worse. One day, my loving father took me aside and asked me a question that would forever change my life.

He asked, ‘Son, do you know who you are?’ Confused, I nodded my head. He repeated,  ‘No, do you KNOW you are?’ I shrugged, so he continued. ‘Son, you are a child of God, you are my son, you are an amazing young man, you are sensitive to those around you, you are kind, you serve others, you do good when you can. Do you agree?’ I nodded my head again. ‘So if you know who you are… why does anything those stupid kids have to say even matter?’

At that moment, it clicked for me. If I knew who I was, who I truly was, it didn’t matter what some punk kids at school had to say. They couldn’t change who I was. I controlled who I was, and there was nothing they could do or say that could change that. Up until that point, I defined myself by the words others said about me. But we are not defined by the words of others. Rather, we are defined by our actions and how we ourselves treat others.

After making that change of mindset, my life changed for the better. Even though the bullying continued, their words no longer carried any value or weight. When they noticed their power over me was gone, they tried harder. They called me more names out of desperation, but I just felt bad for them. I could now see how silly they looked to everyone else. I began to be myself, and I began to make friends. I began to enjoy school. Most importantly, I began to love myself. I began to see myself as someone who deserved love, as someone who was confident, and as someone who controlled their destiny.

Young man stands outside of church in suit beside mother and father
Courtesy of Nathan Webb

Fast forward to today. I am happily married to my sweetheart Kim, with a beautiful baby boy Adam. A lot of people might have let their past bullying turn them into sour people. For me, my past experiences serve as motivation to treat others with kindness. People ask how I’ve been able to move on. I truly believe that my experiences have forced me to solidify my belief in myself. I KNOW who I am. And I will make sure those who I love know who they are before they believe any hater.

Man who was bullied as a child smiles as he holds his baby beside his wife
Courtesy of Nathan Webb

Now, I dedicate my passions to helping others overcome their adversity. I hope my experiences can help someone else. So many people are facing demons alone. I am here to be a beacon so they know they are not alone.

Bullying hurts. It hurt me, and it cut me to my core. But why should we allow a few teenagers control our lives? Why should we allow the words of some punks taking their sucky situations out on us to dictate our identity? Brothers and sisters if we truly KNOW who we are, there is nothing anyone can say or do that will cut you down. If you are having trouble with bullies, please tell an adult. Seek help. But don’t for one second believe a word they say. That’s not you. You are amazing. You are strength. You are confidence. You are you. And that is beautiful. Share your beauty and lift others up. Let your light shine.”

Man who was bullied as a kid stands smiling with wife and son for photoshoot
Courtesy of Nathan Webb

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nathan Webb of Logan, Utah. You can follow his anti-bullying journey on Instagram and FacebookDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more inspiring stories of people overcoming their bullies:

‘I remember hearing my name. I was caught off guard because it was one the coolest boys in my grade. They came up to me and gave me a hug. The last one handed me a paper bag and said, ‘Man, you smell awful.’’

‘My grade school bully died today. I want more people to be like him.’

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