15 /365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. This is a tough one to write so I want to get it done early in the year. I don’t know if I thank you but I would not have become me if it had not been for you – to all the bullies from elementary to high school and from my neighbourhood (didn’t just end after school) that made my life an absolute living hell. I will not name you as the list is too long and I only remember the regulars – not the ones who would also jump in here and there randomly – plus you don’t need to be recognized in that way as then I’m no better than you and you aren’t worth it now. Being made fun of because I was overweight, because I wore glasses, because I had greasy hair, because we didn’t have much money and dressed in cheap clothes, because of my adhd behaviour, because I was not as masculine, because I couldn’t do sports, because I was not popular, because I studied, because I was strange/weird, because I was indo-canadian, because my food was different, because I was seen as ugly, because my dad wasn’t around – you name it, I got it. “Nerd”, “Paki”, “Loser”, “Pussy”, “Hindu”, “Faggot”, “Loner”, “Retard” were my names. I got used to them. Being pushed into lockers, running home right after school or staying in a class until the halls were clear, being spat on, having my house graffitied, being beat up, being shunned in class, never selected for groups, being kicked in the halls, being laughed at, being ignored, being basically alone. I got used to all that. Being made fun of by people who pretended to be friends only to do it so they could also target me. I got used to it. Never having the people who silently watched step up to stop any of what was going on. Yup, got used to it. To the guys who wouldn’t just be satisfied by giving me bloody noses or punching me in the head as they walked by but beating me until my glasses broke or I was so bruised I had to stay away from school for days. Took it all and got used to it. To the girls who would laugh at me when the guys did the things they did. Got used to that. To the girls who did their psychological bullying. Also got used to you. To the teachers and administrators who would tell me that I need to stand up for myself or that I was a part of the problem. Oh, how I got used to you. To the teachers who covertly let it happen by turning a blind eye or even making a (more subtle) comment. I so got used to you. Trying to displace my anger and resentment into learning. Got very used to that. Trying to show a happy outlook and that things didn’t bother me even using humour if I could and hiding behind that façade. I got used to that as well. But the one thing that I did not get used to was being the “me” back then. I never gave up on life even though I hurt so much and for so many years – the physical pain went away but the emotional has stayed. I can’t say I ever thought it was going to get better…but I kept my struggle going. I started to change the outward “me” in the summer after graduation. Thanks to a crazy puberty that only fully hit towards the end of Grade 11, I shed the baby fat. I changed my diet. I discovered hair and face products as well as contacts. I started buying clothes for myself. I started getting attention – positive attention that started to improve my sense of self that started to change the inner “me”. I got away from the hell that was high school. I was in university with different people – people who didn’t know me from high school nor judge me. In spite of you bullies, I became stronger emotionally. In spite of you bullies, I got educated and completed a few university degrees along the way. In spite of you bullies, I focused on personality and genuineness as character traits. In spite of you bullies, I started to come into my looks and pay more attention to appearance which ultimately helped with my self-esteem and how I present myself today (some may say that’s shallow – so be it). In spite of you bullies, I have amazing things in life now – the two most important being my awesome kids. In spite of you bullies, I have an amazing career – I wake up each and every day loving what I do: I don’t live for the weekend – my weekdays are just as, if not more, rewarding. In spite of you bullies, I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone but in the strange ways of life, if it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be this ME! I don’t thank you – you are only identified, I am recognized!!