Friends Are the Worst Kind of Bullies
by Ani Louise
I used to think that I’d know a bully when I met one, but that hasn’t always been true. Sure, I’ve met some obvious bullies, like the sixth grade boy that sucker punched me when I was in first grade, or the girls in high school that didn’t like me because of my clothes or my personality. They made my life miserable, but I knew it wasn’t my fault. The only thing I did wrong was to cross their path.
I never expected that my friends would become bullies or that I might become one too. In ninth grade, I hung out with a group of friends I’d had since grade school, although sometimes I hung out with new friends. One day the group decided they didn’t like one of my new friends, which didn’t make sense, because it’s not like she tried to join the group. They told me I couldn’t be friends with them if I was friends with her.
I didn’t know what to do. We’d grown up together; how could I not be friends with them anymore? On the other hand, my new friend and I had more in common. When we hung out, we had things to talk about and did things we both enjoyed. When I hung out with the group, we didn’t always talk about or do things that I was interested in. Yet, the group had been my friends for forever.
So I ditched my new friend.
I felt awful about it!
But I couldn’t stop myself.
Besides, it was too late to take back what I’d said.
There’s not a happy ending to this story. I’d like to say that I apologized and my friend forgave me and we’re still friends, but that’s not what happened. Friendships aren’t easy to repair when one friend betrays another.
Shortly after that, I stopped hanging out with my old group of friends. They made me lose a friendship that I valued and they turned me into a bully. The worst part was knowing that although it was their suggestion, what happened was my fault, because I went along with it. Since then, I refuse to hang out with or play along with bullies disguised as friends. It makes me squeamish to be around people that manipulate their friends and don’t treat them well.
How can you tell if your friends are bullies? If they have inside jokes you’re not in on, freeze you out, or give you backhanded complements, they might be bullies. If they aren’t always nice to you or tell you to stop hanging out with people they don’t approve of, they’re probably bullies. If they make fun of other people or tell you to make fun of others, they’re bullies. Don’t be fooled by bullies that call themselves your friends.
Ani Louise is a YA and middle grade writer who has been making up stories since she learned they could keep her from getting into trouble. She’s currently writing a contemporary YA romance and plotting what to write next. Learn more about her projects at http://www.anilouise.com