Growing up, I was one of those annoying kids who was popular, talented at music & art and passed all my exams without studying, teachers pet, etc. I was forever in the local press for winning prizes for playing in various musical events & was lucky enough to win a scholarship to send me to a specialist music school for gifted children on the weekends. In the midst of all of this however, I was going through a particularly nasty time with a group of local kids who taunted me about my family constantly.
I wasn't brought up with my natural family and didn't find out about this until I was 14. Most of the local kids knew all about this and knew who my "real" Mum was because she went to school with their parents. Sounds like a soap opera, I know -- and sure it was at the time . I don't mean to be flippant about it, it's taken me 26 years to put it into a comfortable perspective. At the time though, it took me on a journey of self harming, eating disorders, risk taking behaviour and abusive relationships. Not to mention all sorts of questionable haircuts, clothing and music such as The Cure, The Smiths and Leonard Cohen...
Thankfully, I got through those years. My experiences have allowed me to empathise with people in situations of trauma and crisis, and empowered me as an adult to speak out and encourage others to do the same. I have learned the value of reflection and forgiveness, and remind myself that things really do get better, even when you feel like the whole world is against you. Bullying is not exclusive to your childhood years, and I think society is quick to dismiss this fact.
I think everyone has a story about being bullied. This means we can all empathise with others who are going through tough times. If you don't know how to recognise Spirit Day, take time out of your usual routine to reflect upon your own life and the way you can help others with the lessons you have learned. At the very least, give your smile to someone who doesn't have one. You'll find it's contagious and you may just turn someone's life around by doing so.