When I was in grade school, I was obsessed with AOL Instant Messenger and I loved chatting with my friends on it after school. One day, I got an IM from a screen name I didn't know. The person kept writing me messages saying I was ugly, a loser, too pale and other assorted insults. I replied back demanding to know who was harassing me, but it was no use -- screen names made everything anonymous. I became suspicious of everyone I knew, even my own friends. I had no idea who could be behind the horrible messages.
The next day when I signed online I had an uneasy feeling. Sure enough, that same unknown screen name sent me another message. This time, the person was cursing at me and just kept saying hurtful things. I blocked the screen name, but later on, a brand new screen name emerged hurling the same insults. I couldn't figure out why I was being targeted especially by someone who wasn't brave enough to say all of these things to me directly. Time went on, but deep down, I felt really sad that someone hated me and I didn't know who it was. My imagination ran wild envisioning all these crazy scenarios of who my cyber harasser could be. Could there be a whole group of people gathered around a computer telling me how they really felt about me? My grade school self was overcome with anxiety. After finding a setting that would allow only the people I chose to IM me, I was safe from harassing messages, but I always wondered who the culprit was.
A few months later, the truth finally came out. The younger sister of a quiet boy in my grade was my bully. I didn't even know the girl! If I could go back in time and talk to my grade school self, I would say this: Don't stress the negative things people say you. If someone's goal is to make you feel bad, then they're in a much worse place than you are. Spend time with the people who love you; ignore the people who hurt you. Cliche, but so true: It gets better. Promise!
--Editorial Assistant Rachel Sheehan