I'll be the first to admit that I was bullied a fair amount growing up; for the way my voice was higher pitched than the others boys, for the way I seemed to only circle around a close group of friends who were girls. I also will be the first to admit that I am not alone, with a staggering 30% of students admit to being victims of bullying or have been bullied at times.
I grew up, though, and for that I feel lucky. There are plenty of children in the world who feel different from their peers, and that sadness is so deeply etched in them they choose to leave this world. Bullying has scars: whether they be emotional or, in the most horrific circumstances, physical. Yet neither should be discounted, each leaving behind a different type of imprint that can last a life time.
It isn't easy to stop caring about what other people think of you, but it is entirely possible. As vague as this may sound, it comes from discovering yourself outside of what is hyped in the media and what you're told to like. You begin to learn who you are when you read books that enlighten you, not only to your emotions but to the world around you. You begin to figure out what sounds the best from listening to every type of music you can get your hands on and not just sticking to what Top 40 radio tells you is good.
You need to take in the world around you and explore all the things you were afraid to try. Try out a new hobby you've been meaning to, see a movie alone, grab a cup of coffee and sit by a lake. By actually taking the time to figure out who you are, you're investing in your own happiness. It is hard to care about what people are saying about you "” good or bad "” when you know at the end of the day the thing that will make you happiest is a Cup-Of-Noodles and watching Netflix under a really comfortable blanket.
You also learn to stop caring about what other people think when you begin to question the world around you. When people offer up their opinions, ask them more questions. Read up on topics you normally wouldn't and then form your own ideas about what is going on in the world. Go to museums and ask yourself why you find this art beautiful or not.
Stop letting people push you around because you feel afraid, start fighting back because your ideas on the world are just as valid as theirs. Begin questioning everything you've ever been taught and find out what the world means to you. It is only when you begin to settle into your new identity that you will be able to drown out the voices of those who make you feel like less. Start to realize that, at the end of the day, you need to fall asleep with yourself and no one else, so that is the person you need to be most at peace with.
The truth is that life is full of questions, and there is no way to find the answers anywhere outside of yourself. You will never find comfort in the approval of others, and it is a fool's errand to try. You stop caring about what others think of you when you're able to have confidence in yourself. That no matter what they say to you, you have the knowledge and the ability to form your own opinions about what you like and what you hate.
Sure, there will be days where you will still worry about how you look or how you come off to other people. We are social creatures and it is in our nature to want others to like us, but we should always remember that our worth can never be determined by someone else. We stop caring what other people think when our own voice echoes louder over the people who make us doubt ourselves. Like a battle cry.