I never thought I’d say this, but I miss those silly fights with friends on the playground in elementary school, and the consequential time-outs that made you think about what you did wrong. Looking back, I am thankful for the people in my life who have taught me what it means to be kind. I’ve learned to want the best for others, to believe the best in others, and ultimately to do all I can to bring out the best in all of those around me.
As I got older, I outgrew playground tiffs and grew into texting, then Facebooking, Instagramming, blogging, and YouTubing. And can I let you in on a little secret? All of a sudden, time-outs weren’t a part of the picture anymore. All of a sudden, I was introduced to an environment where anyone can say anything without consequences. And it was, in every sense, a rude awakening.
To be quite honest, bullying wasn’t on my radar until I began blogging. Before you roll your eyes (as I almost just did, myself), I want you to know that I’m not about to share a sob story about why the world is so mean to me. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. A Lonestar State of Southern has brought about countless blessings, friendships, and experiences I will forever be grateful for. I’m sharing my recent bullying experience because it has made me realize the importance of initiatives like Secret’s Mean Stinks campaign—a campaign I’m passionate about and can’t wait to hear your thoughts on!
“So, Kate, bullying you say? I don’t buy it, tell us more.” The most poignant experience occurred this summer on my favorite time-stealer, Instagram. Before this, I’d seen my fair share of catty comments on photos of other accounts and had always brushed them off. I hate to admit that, but I suppose I was under the following impressions:
“Oh, that account has so many followers, I doubt they will even see it.”
“I don’t personally know them, so it’s no big deal.”
“That comment was ruuude, but there’s nothing I can do to help and I’m not about to get in a comment battle.”
But after posting an Instagram telling you all that I’d published a new video, I received a comment that took me by surprise, and quickly changed my previously-held assumptions about bullying on social media.
I was so shocked that I didn’t initially know how to respond. I didn’t know this girl. I knew I shouldn’t care about her opinion. I knew not everyone felt the same way she did and that I shouldn’t take her comment to heart. But it felt so personal, so hurtful, and like I’d just been punched in the stomach. Trust me, if I was reading this, I would be the first to ask, “Are we being a little dramatic here, Kate?” And I wish I could say yes. Yes, that I was overreacting and that it didn’t bother me at all. But it can’t, because it hurt really, really badly. And that’s a hard thing to admit.
But y’all, here’s why I remember this comment. Here’s why I’m devoting a whole post to this. It wasn’t the mean comment that stood out to me, it was the many, many girls who commented back—encouraging me to ignore the comment, encouraging me to keep up what I’m doing because it is appreciated, and encouraging me to remember that I am not defined by other’s opinions.
See the theme here? Encouragement! That is the takeaway. The few girls that took the time to respond and #gangupforgood left a stronger impression on me than one, isolated mean comment! There will always be one person who will continue spreading hatred no matter what. But when we take the responsibility to turn around and drown out the bullying with a shower of kindness, the meanness doesn’t win—kindness does! It is so worth it to gang up for good, y’all, and I say that because of how touched I was when these girls did the same for me.
That’s why I encourage each of you to remember to #gangupforgood and to join me in putting it into practice. Imagine how much negativity we can take away by being proactive about sharing good! The girls who did so for me completely transformed what could have been an experience filled with insecurity and doubt into one of encouragement and reassurance. In fact, I took a screenshot of the whole thing to remind myself to proactively spread kindness. So a HUGE thank you to these Instagram users who took the time to #gangupforgood and made me smile that day: @allisoncowden, @style_by_salli, @illy_azalea, @hannahshanae, @meoww_maddie, @kotineru, @icravejewels, @beeedoyle. You all were so kind that the person behind the mean comment deleted it—now that is how you know you really made a difference!
If bullying has been a part of your life in any way, definitely check out the Mean Stinks Tumblr. There, you can learn more about the campaign and even submit your own bullying solutions. Oh, and did I mention I painted my pinky blue in support? If it involves an excuse to buy more nail polish, you can always count me in. :)Thank you so much, Secret, for creating this movement, and to Secret and Lucky Magazine for sponsoring this post! I am thrilled to help spread this initiative, and am hoping it makes a difference in the lives of girls everywhere.
Love from Texas,