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Megan Sanchez: How bullying is personal to me

Megan Sanchez as a seventh grade cheerleader at Bettendorf Middle School. (Photo courtesy of Susie Nichol)

Hi there!

If you're reading this, you are about to get a little look into a vulnerable part of my life. I'm Megan Sanchez and I am a reporter at KRCG 13. Bullying is personal to me.

I was born and raised in Bettendorf, Iowa, which is where this story takes place.

When I sat down to write my story about how bullying personally affected me in middle school, I was surprised how fresh the feelings felt.

What happened was so long ago, and I even thought to myself, 'Was it really that bad?' 'Do you really deserve to tell your story?'

However, if there's anything we have learned through starting this initiative, it's that every story is significant. Whether bullying happen to you once, or repeatedly your entire life, it is all unacceptable, and that's why we're working to stop it.

Middle school: I'm sure those of you who remember what awkward years they were can attest to the fact that it is the worst. You are insecure. You have no idea who you are or what you're doing. Everything is changing. It's all a rollercoaster.

For me, cheerleading seemed like the best idea ever. Wearing uniforms, utilizing my dance skills to do something new, and being able to watch the football games from the best seat in the house (the sidelines) seemed like a wonderful idea. However, cheerleading turned out to be one of the toughest experiences in my middle school years.

It was so long ago, and I have let go of what actually happened, and feel no negativity toward the girls who made me feel this way. In fact, I'm not even necessarily sure they knew. What probably will never leave my memory, though, is how I felt. Reflecting on that while writing a letter to my younger self was an excellent exercise, and I'm so fortunate to have had this opportunity.

Essentially, eighth grade cheerleading brought isolation, feeling left out, and ultimately, quitting the team. Messages were sent to me through MySpace's "Honesty Box" that were not so kind. I dreaded going to practice and dreaded the games even more. My mom raised me to finish what I started, so I wrapped up football season, and decided it would be best to not cheer for basketball. I was sad because I really enjoyed cheerleading, but I did not enjoy the way the team made me feel.

What I really hope you take away from my story - especially if you're a young woman - is that although you feel awful when bullying happens to you, that awful feeling will not last forever. Feelings in your pre-teen and teen years feel so permanent. Everything feels permanent, and in reality, it just isn't. That rumor going around school about you? No one will be talking about it in a week. You tripped and fell on your face in P.E. and everyone is making fun of you for it? Tomorrow, someone else will trip and fall.

Finally, I want to empower kids to rise above. It is so easy to get caught up in middle school with being cool, and sometimes being cool to middle schoolers means making fun of other students or laughing when someone trips in P.E. We're all guilty of standing by to blend in. I did it, too. Standing up is so much better. Be brave. If someone tries to gossip with you, change the subject. Any one person can help change the culture. I truly believe that.

Above, you'll find the video of my story and the letter I wrote to my younger self. Remember, you are not alone. It will get better. You can do this.

Sincerely,

Megan Sanchez

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