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makaylareads23

  • Articles, Bullying

    Hey Bullies, It’s not Cool to Be Cruel

    It's Not Cool to Be Cruel

    No Bullies Allowed.

    Tips on How to Handle Being Bullied

    Being the center of attention can be nerve-wracking if it is not handled properly. Some people aspire to be the most popular person in the room. Others cringe at the thought of it. Nonetheless, being the center of attention calls for a lot of people to watch your every move. With this being said, sometimes the limelight brings unpleasant people who say and do things that aren’t so nice.

    These people are called bullies.

    In some form or fashion, we have all had a childhood bully. They are never easy to deal with. One of the first bullies that I ever had was when I was in the seventh grade. She ended up stealing my iPod too. A few other times it usually had something to do with how I did my hair and people would say it was flakey and I needed to wash it. It was usually condescending and in a way. People used to make fun of how I talk since it isn’t conventionally feminine. Others used to take jabs about how I dressed or spoke. Essentially, it made me feel terrible about myself. I wouldn’t talk to anyone about how those situations made me feel because I thought that I had no one to talk to.

    Ultimately, I learned that the goal of a bully is to make you feel bad about yourself.

    As said on www.psychologytoday.com, “Bullying is repeated, aggressive behavior…that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. Its purpose is to deliver physical or psychological harm to another person. [They] operate by making their victims feel alone and powerless.” When I noticed that this was their end goal, to make feel a way in which I could not understand, I had to learn to find true confidence from solitude and isolation.

    A lot of people did not understand me growing up. I was uncanny and they thought that my kindness made me an easy target. On top of being socially awkward, I was quite shy and introverted because not communicating the things that harmed me made me feel better. Plus, it was easier to not say anything and keep going with life rather than confront the issue. Again, I learned rather quickly that allowing people to walk all over you would not be a justifiable reason for letting people know when they have hurt you.

    Being assertive and confident created a path to holding others accountable for their wrongdoings. For me, it was not always easy doing so. It takes a lot of self-awareness to be able to tell people when they are wrong, but it is needed. Bullies do not have the power or authoritative order over you; they want you to feel inferior, but know and understand that you are in charge of your own life and safety. Do not fret if the end result is not what you expected. You have to stay consistent and remind these bullies of who is in charge.

    Makayla Smith is a third-year student at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She is interning at GirlSpring.
  • Articles

    What to do if you are being bullied – by one of your parents

    Sometimes parents can be the bullies in your life.

    In our society, we are socialized to respect our elders. Therefore, the thought of standing up to one or challenging what they have taught you to better yourself is tough. No one likes to be pushed around or interrogated for their everyday life by people they do not know. Being pressured by a parent can be even more overwhelming and can result in some psychological issues if not dealt with properly.

    Up until my grandmothers passing, we had a bit of a rocky relationship.

    Because I was so expressive in my presentation, she would think that I was somehow disobeying her and disobeying God. I grew up in a conservative Baptist home. I struggled with why I was so concerned with how other people viewed me. It was because I had been raised, and based most of my life around, this idea that if I looked like I was okay, then everything was okay on the inside. But that was far from the truth. My grandmother’s inability to accept me for who I was took a toll on me in ways that I cannot explain. And on top of that, it felt as if the whole world agreed with her.

    The saying that people treat you how they treat themselves can apply to this situation, and many other things.

    According to www.kidshealth.org, “Sometimes bullies know that what they’re doing or saying hurts other people. But other bullies may not really know how hurtful their actions can be. Most bullies don’t understand or care about the feelings of others.” Some people come from backgrounds where people have abused them or mistreated them and use you as a target to project that onto. Others might come from places of insecurity or belittlement.

    In some situations, I feel as if it is important to be brave.

    Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself especially if you know there was something that you didn’t do wrong. If you are in a position where you cannot stick up for yourself and it requires someone in higher authority, like an adult, to speak up then I would suggest pulling them to the side and telling them what’s going on. Two heads are better than one. On top of having courage, the fact of having a support system will catapult you into a completely different arena. And if you also see someone being bullied, do not stand back and be a bystander. Be a voice for them and do not hesitate.

    Work on being good enough for you.

    I know a lot of teenagers and children want to do their best in order to be on their parents’ good side, but truth be told, this is impossible. If you are not giving yourself the credit to excel, then you’ll only continue to live in that docility and that dark place. And always remember if someone has the audacity to touch you, belittle you, or make you feel inferior, there is a likely chance that all of those emotions are going on inside of themselves. You have to believe that you are on the right path.

     

    Makayla Smith is a third-year student at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She completed an internship at Girlspring in fall 2018.

  • Articles

    New Year, new you! How to be Your Own Person in High School

    New Year, new you! How to be Your own Person in High School

    The key to being yourself is to remain open-minded.

    The truth is that there is no way to feel alone when you can create a lane and walk within that path. Standing out is hard, and it takes a lot of confidence to embrace yourself. Some people enjoy getting told what to do, but that is not the case for everyone. Always remember that no one can ever be you. Life is too short not to be able to express yourself in the way that you want. Thankfully, I was inspired by different kinds of people like those who participated in cosplay and dressed up in costumes at festivals. I found friends who are not average or conventional. It is essential to remember that being your own person is necessary and important even in spaces like high school and middle school.

    Being young and knowing yourself is a quality that we all need.

    It is a character trait that you need to carry into adulthood. Some people have allowed themselves to be taken advantage of solely because they didn’t know themselves. Essentially, the earlier, the better.

    Surround yourself with people who support who you are.

    It’s easy to fall into the trap of being around people because you don’t want to be lonely or because you want attention. Both those are false illusions. Wasting away on people who don’t want better for you will only cause a sense of displacement. Make a list of traits that you value, or a list of things you look for in friendships and keep those thoughts in mind as you go out and socialize. Make a list of everything that you want to improve on. Surround yourself with people that will make you be and feel better.

    Lastly, understand that change requires growth.

    There were times where I felt so uncomfortable in high school. It made me feel so scared of the world and what it had to offer. I thought that people were trying to attack me and make me feel little. It felt like I had no one to shield me from the possible harm that I could face, or had no one to sit me down to talk to me about things that I had questions about such as sex and sexuality. I just felt misunderstood and like no one wanted to hear me, but I had to learn that I valued my own voice enough to trust my gut. But I learned that it was all apart of the experience and that there was nothing to be afraid of. The world is yours if you make it over in that image. Find some time to do something, and love on yourself with open arms.

  • Articles

    How to Deal with Isolation

    How to Deal with Isolation

    Isolation and loneliness were some of the biggest hurdles that I dealt with, in my high school career.

    I was constantly left to my thoughts, and didn’t know how to articulate them in a way that was healthy. One of the main reasons I support self-love is because I have spent some time with myself and realized the vastness that was within it. I started to embrace the fact that I was to be “alone” on most of this journey. After that, I began to let go of that fear by spending time in the arts, or music. These things made me feel good about myself. Spending time around people that made me feel real helped me find my place in the world.

    Some of the relationships that I had with my teachers made it easier to deal with my mental health.

    For example, on www.understand.org, the website says, “High school teachers often have passions that they like to share with their students. If your child has a specific interest or skill, ask around. There may be a group of kids or a teacher who shares that interest.” Simple acts of participating where I saw fit, or speaking on topics in class that interested me helped to build social connections. If I was not feeling well, they’d let me step outside and take a breather. When I grew tired or drained, they let me rest.

    I wish I focused on building my future.

    Putting more energy into studying hard and working on my grades rather than spending extra time hanging out with friends. Instead of being bothered by gossip, I wish I learned about colleges. I wish I would have known better and that it’s all relative to my growth. However, I had to learn to stop beating myself up over that as well because I did not have the proper resources, outlets, and guidance to allow me to stay on the clearest path.

    I wish that I did not start until the 12th grade to take myself and my mental health seriously.

    Around the time that I started studying for the ACT (usually through Kaplan and the Princeton Review), I realized how I could think more critically. Before, because of my lack of confidence, I struggled with taking myself seriously because of what I allowed other people to project onto me.

    Depression is something that can get the best of all of us.

    Feeling as if we are inadequate or alone can get the best of us. Again, knowing and understanding that this is all apart of the process will help you to place that energy into other things such as your art, your grades, and your state of mind and making sure that you are doing the very best you can to be the best person that you can be.

  • Articles

    How to Feel Less Alone in High School

    How to Feel Less Alone in High School

    Although I am almost three years removed from high school, it was one of the most sacred times of my life.

    In high school, I learned about myself and the importance of spending time alone. This helped me feel like I would eventually be able to take care of myself. However, this did not come easy. I faced several bouts of depression. I endured an intense chapter where I was apart from my mother. Also, I drifted away from close friends that I had, had since I was a child.

    I had a lot of emotions and thoughts inside of myself it was hard to function. I remember when I was fourteen, my mom had decided to leave the home that I had grew up in. She left my brother and me with my grandparents. I felt alone watching my other friends in a two-parent household, with their own houses and families. Needless to say, I felt misplaced.

    Thanks to the creative program I had at my high school, I used my words to guide me through the deep pain that I had felt.

    I have stressed that developing your own personal identity is important to how you navigate life. However, I was clueless about the topic in high school. There were no adult figures to guide me. However, I learned (slowly) that everything I needed was inside of me. I did not need to search outside of myself for it. When my parents used to let me down, it was easy for me to feel sad or betrayed. I had to learn that they were only human beings. Little did I know, that those were the type of situations I needed to develop my own personal skill set as a human being.

     

    As seen on www.affinitymagazine.us, “High school will turn you, throw you, flip you, chew you, spit you out, crush you, and then build you back up just to break you again. No matter what you are struggling with; grades, family, friends, worries of the future, drugs, money, sexuality, mental illness, looks, whatever it is, no single person is immune to the cruelty of these four years.” I had to learn to put myself first at an early age because I did not know the meaning of standing on my own two feet. Eventually, I grasped the concept. I had to accept myself to grow into a better person.

    I had to owe it to myself to find my place.

    President Bill Clinton, as cited on www.humansandnature.org, says, “As we seek to instill important values in a new generation of Americans, we must redouble our efforts to improve student learning, responsibility, and sense of belonging.” This is a true proclamation I have grown into the idea of inclusivity that was missing from the bouts of sadness that I found myself in. If there were a sense of community from staff, I think I would have saved much of my own suffering. Thankfully, I was able to define it on my own terms which were the best part of my high school career.

  • Articles

    Tarana Burke and the Me Too Movement

    Tarana Burke and the Me Too Movement

    Tarana Burke, a social activist and all around feminist, coined the term “Me too” after a young girl at a summer camp she was working for, confided in her about her sexual assault. The phrase was put into use around 2006, on a Myspace page she curated. The aim was for everyone, but was specifically targeted towards young people of color in poorer communities.

    However, in an attempt to draw more support and efforts towards sexual assault survivors and the topic in general, the Me Too Movement resurfaced into the limelight because of the actress, Alyssa Milano. Since that day, according to the CNN network, the phrase has been used nearly 200,000 times and tweeted nearly 500,000 times by October 16th.

    I would like to reiterate that I believe sexual assault victims deserve safe spaces to express their pain and heal from what they have been through. These types of incidents can occur to anyone, no matter what background you come from. While I have never been raped personally, I know what it feels like to be put in uncomfortable positions where someone tries to persuade you to do things that you may not like or touch you in a way that you did not want or approve. However, any form of sexual assault is never okay.

    This is not a movement specifically for women either. The reason that this is a multi level situation is because it is a systematic hindrance that has affected women and men on all spectrums and backgrounds. In terms of the film industry, and what has recently happened to powerful men like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, this has come right in the climax of everything. A platform such as the Me Too Movement reaffirms these people that they are not alone and has given them their voices back.

    Terry Crews, who was groped by a popular movie director, brings up the idea that we should expect more from men too. We should not allow toxic masculinity to distort our perception of how men should deal with their sexual assault as well. While women have been given their rights at a much later start, movements such as these garner confidence and is important for young girls and young men to see across the globe. I believe that grassroots work within the community will be how we can positively impact people the most and the fastest.

    As for the future, I do not think this movement will go to waste. We see people fighting for women’s reproductive rights, we see people fighting against toxic masculinity, and we see people shifting their political thought. Generation Z and onward will not stand for these acts and I see us pushing these morals forward and truly respecting people as human beings. That is why no matter your political association, it is important to vote these people out and give people their rights back and not in the form of privilege.

  • Photography

    The Kavanaugh Decision & Sexual Assault Victims

    The Kavanaugh Decision & Sexual Assault Victims

    by Makayla Smith, UAB student, and GirlSpring intern

    Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and as a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

    Ford accused Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court nominee, of sexual assault. She said that the sexual assault occurred when she was 15 years old, and when he was 17. At the beginning of filing the complaint, Ford concealed her identity, in fear for her life. According to what she told The Washington Post, Ford claimed that “while his friend Mark Judge watched, Kavanaugh, intoxicated, held her down on a bed with his body, grinding against and groping her, covering her mouth when she tried to scream and trying to pull her clothes off. Finding it hard to breathe, she thought Kavanaugh was accidentally (her emphasis) going to kill her.”

    While he denied these allegations made by him, attorneys such as Debra Katz, Lisa Blanks, and Michael Bromwich encouraged her to come forward about what had happened. Ricki Seidman, who worked alongside the Anita Hill case, was also brought in to help Ford construct a personal hearing. Ford had also taken a polygraph test issued by a former FBI agent in which it proved that she was truthful about what she had said. Weeks after the case had settled, Congress elected Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Following the testimony of Dr. Ford, two other women stepped up, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.

    Regarding the Me Too movement, I would like to say that I stand with Dr. Ford and other sexual assault victims.

    When I learned that 1 in 4 women experience assault, I was repulsed. This is a public health issue that I feel so many people sweep under the rug. Because we live in a male-dominated society, women’s health and women’s rights are left to suffer.

    I also want to clarify that being raped can happen to anyone, whether you are a man, a woman, or someone who does not identify themselves within the two. Men also face the thought that if they were to come out about the sexual assault they have suffered, then it is an attack on their masculinity. It is something that makes them feel of less value especially if a woman rapes them. People view it as an attack on their strength.

    Mostly, it takes a lot of courage to confide in someone about these types of things happening. Some people think that it is normal until they have a safe space to talk about what it is that has happened. These people face the world, or their families, with the possible thought of not being believed.

    We need accountability in cases like these in our Federal government. We need to believe people and give victims a fair arena to get justice. Everyone deserves to reclaim the autonomy of their bodies when he or she feels that they were violated without permission.