Repost from Pink Shirt Day, January 29th, 2012
Bullying is a funny thing for me… it is still a bit of a taboo topic, maybe for my age group, or maybe it is just me. I was always told that words can never hurt me (even though they did) and to “just ignore it” or “be the better person” I look back at my grade school years – being almost 6ft tall and a pathetic 120lbs, with mousy brown hair and desperately wanting to have my butt fit into a pair of jeans that didn’t have an elastic waist, and while I wasn’t the biggest target, I did get my fair share!
This sage advice allowed me to hold my head high (or at least hide my tears in my pillow) all through highschool, knowing I was probably the better person. I am aware now that the bullies were (as they always are) left behind to fade into mediocrity in their hometowns, and yes… this makes me feel good!
I went through my “career” working with amazing non-profits and organizations that recognized and supported women. I never figured that any of those high school bullies would have made it out of the suburbs.
Okay, I realise now I was naïve… but I was an optimist, not a realist.
I went to a new job, a seemingly better job. I was a part of an amazing team – for a while. Eventually we had transition; people moved on, I got pregnant.
I didn’t realise that I was working for an organization that has (yes, STILL HAS) one of the highest number of workplace bullying complaints, and does not recognize workplace bullying as a form of harassment.
While I was there dozens of people left this government organization due to bullying … but HR still did (does) not count employee bullying as anything other than office politics. I did not realise that almost all workplace bullying situations are resolved with the person being bullied leaving the organization (rarely are the “bullies” disciplined) I did not realise that “mobbing” is one of the most prevalent forms of workplace bullying.
I didn’t realise all of this, until I did.
I didn’t realise this until my each day driving to work was the onset of fear of my co-workers, each night was spent crying over the day before, and worrying about the next. Each project I did was ignored, each written threat submitted to HR was disregarded.
It wasn’t until HR told me they could do nothing… and then offered me a cheque to leave.
They could do nothing because workplace bullying doesn’t exist.
They offered me $ because they knew it did.
I am a pretty strong person, but the workplace “mob” mentality I experienced caught me by surprise and beat down my confidence until it was gone.
I am less naïve now, and work very hard to keep bullies out of my life. I work very hard to push myself to my own standards and walk away from people who feel the need to constantly compare themselves to me, or make me feel that my work ethic is there to make them look bad.
I get angry that, as a group of grown men and women, we still let people make us feel bad, that bullies are still out there ( I mostly call them miserable bitches now, even the guys! ) and I am sick and tired of saying that they are just acting like that because of a lack of self-confidence, or (my new favorite) cause you are living the life they wish they had.
I am angry that the nice people continue to smile and nod, and passively walk away from the “mean girls”
I guess I am a bit angry.
So, if we could all just stand our ground. Don’t listen to the gossip, and when you do hear it… stop the gossip! Point it out, make it a spectacle! Make your own decisions. Treat others how you want to be treated.
Don’t buy into the mean girl mentality… cause I do believe karma’s a bitch!
Julie Nowell is living her dreams on Saltspring Island with her family. Follow her journey on JulieNowell.com. She thanks the bumps of the past for making her a stronger person for the future.