On all of my platforms, I have always spoken on the importance of being kind to everyone and anyone. When I was in middle school and into high school, I was severely bullied by some of my classmates. Although these experiences that I had in school were anything but positive, I was able to learn, grow, and become my best self from it all. With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, I wanted to speak on how I utilize my own hardships through dealing with my own bullies to help others. Most importantly, I strive to be kind to all of the people that I meet and will meet in this world.

When I was in school, I never wanted to follow to the social norms of the time when it came to how I dressed, my interests, or what I did with my free time. Let’s just say that the girls and even guys in my class saw me as a target for bullying. There were many days that I did not want to wake up and go to school. In fact, when I was in eighth grade, I felt extremely depressed when I had to adjust to going back to school as my seventh grade year ended with many negative and traumatic experiences. As I was approaching high school, I was out shopping with my dad and brother when there was a group of girls my age who were walking through the store and simply making fun of me. Similarly, girls my age would also make fun of me in passing or in the public bathrooms. These poor experiences of harassment lasted throughout middle school and into high school. In those days where all I experienced was hurtful glares and dirty looks from others, I always longed that there was a spark of kindness from some of my classmates.

One of the moments that sticks out to me the most is my Eighth grade science teacher. Along with being my science teacher, he was my homeroom teacher. Each day, he witnessed the negative experiences that I faced from my classmates and he saw my potential to succeed and help others. Because he looked out for me, he signed my class up to see the former Miss Virginia speak on her own similar experiences for being bullied through middle school. Unfortunately, that event got canceled. However, what sticks in my head is the fact that my teacher was looking out for me to realize that there is hope for my future beyond my middle school and high school days. The random act of kindness that he did for me really meant a lot and still means a lot to me today.

In high school, I really thrived from being apart of a church youth group. I pushed myself to go on a church mission trip the summer before my Sophomore year. On that trip, I truly was able to come out of my shell, and I finally felt as if I had a place within my own community. The years before, I felt extremely isolated from those around me and my confidence was really lacking because of that. For the remainder of my high school years, I stayed apart of my church youth group, which I think was my saving grace. From there, I was able to meet people and truly be myself around my own friends in high school that I made in my Sophomore year, Junior year, and Senior year. Even though I do not remain super close friends with many of the people that were in my church youth group today, I am still blessed for the friendships and connections that I had for that time being. I truly needed them! I have an amazing church community and still keep in touch with several people from that church that I am very blessed to still have in my life today and for many years to come.

My Sophomore to Senior years of high school allowed me to make friends that I still have to this day. Through being apart of my church youth group, I was able to show love and kindness to all that I met. My Junior year of high school, I assisted a middle school small group at my church. That same year, I created an Instagram page to showcase the diversity, kindness, and inclusion of all students at my high school. I decided to utilize that page to highlight students that normally did not feel as if they ever had a part in my school’s community. Indeed, the way that I had initially felt. My Senior year of high school, I took my experiences to the next level by becoming an ambassador for my high school, which is essentially known as the welcoming committee. Each and every day, I welcomed every student as they walked through the front doors of my high school. Some days I would even hand out candy canes or Hershey Kisses. Every Christmas, I would make 100+ handmade cards that I would hand out to all of my teachers, friends, and classmates. Being kind to others was such a blessing for me as much as it was for others!

The kindness that I gave to others was also received to me from others. I was nominated as Homecoming Queen my Senior year of high school. Weeks later, I was named Homecoming Queen. Being my high school’s Homecoming Queen was such an extreme honor, as I knew that I gave so much to my high school community and I could be able to represent them in a gratifying way. At the same time, I also had and still have many friends from my high school days. My yearbooks from my Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years have several signatures with such kind and loving words from friends. The words that they wrote to me truly shown how I made a positive impact on their own lives. Many of them, I still at minimum keep in touch with on social media, and it has truly allowed me to have a vast network of extraordinary people.

As I got to college, I began to use my experiences to continue to be kind to others. I have always been loving and accepting of others and have grown to become even more embracing of others through learning from their own experiences. At the same time, I have met many friends and classmates of mine who have had similar experiences in both middle school and high school. I have mentored incoming Freshmen as a Freshmen Student Advisor as they adjust to life at Meredith and starting college life sometimes in a brand-new city. At the same time, I have embraced inclusion and diversity of all students at Meredith through hearing the struggles that students of all races, abilities, sexualities, religions, gender identities, and ethnicities face on campus as an officer for the Residents Housing Association and Angels for Disability Advocacy. College is a whole new breed of vast knowledge to learn, as I am consistently learning about others through their own experiences and life. Through being at Meredith College, I have been able to find my own sense of self and grow as a person. Moreover, I have allowed for my negative experiences in both middle and high school to help me to be my best self.

Through it all, I did not once let it stop me from doing what spoke to me the most. My confidence and strong self worth in myself throughout the years is something that I truly admire in myself and has helped me to get through the hardships of middle and high school. I have carried my sense of worth with me throughout the years, and it has allowed me to be my best and strongest self to this day. In fact, if it were not for my painful bullying encounters in school, I would not be the woman that I am today.

Recently, I teamed up with some other influencers, Holly of Absolutely Holly, @Fashionistaside, Cha Webb of Dress Down for What, Allison of Succulent Selections, Allison of @girlgangandco, Jody of Slevin Couture, Val of By Val Barahona, Katie of @katiekili, and Amber of The Amber Kerby, to stand up against bullying and promote kindness. Even though October is National Bullying Prevention Month, it is still extremely important to promote kindness and compassion all year round. While we may not see what someone is going through, all of us are going through something – we simply have to stick together <3

XOXO – Katie <3

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