Today is “Do it for Dolly Day”, in memory of a young cowgirl named Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett. Dolly tragically took her own life at 14 in 2018 due to an extended period of bullying and cyber bullying.
Today, on May 8, Dolly’s family ask everyone to ‘Be a mate. Be kind on May 8.’ “Do it for Dolly Day” is about bringing the community together to celebrate kindness and unite in making a stand against bullying. They ask people to wear blue for Dolly (as that was her favourite colour) and light up social media using the hashtag #DoItForDollyDay. So today, I’m wearing my favourite blue Ariat cowgirl boots, a blue singlet and my Akubra for this little cowgirl.
More information can be found on Dolly’s Dream (the foundation and charity set up in Dolly’s name) and ‘Do it for Dolly Day’, here … https://dollysdream.org.au/.
While I was on my daily ‘lockdown’ walk this morning, I was thinking about what my childhood was like. Mostly, it was great, I had a twin brother to play with and make lots of memories and social media wasn’t a ‘thing’ when I was growing up through primary school and most of my high school days. However, real life bullying still happened. It’s not something I’ve ever really spoken about and I do like to keep up my own brand as someone who is strong and driven, however even strong people have feelings and downfalls. The only person that perhaps knew something was my mum, which will become clearer soon.
I understand that most people will go through some kind of bullying at some point in their life with varying degrees of severity, but I thought I would perhaps share some of my story, and it might help someone someday, that comes across this post.
The earliest memory I have of being bullied was in grade 3. I was 8, turning 9. I was a smart kid growing up (without being boastful). I excelled at sport, mathematics and reading. I remember one Monday morning at a school assembly I received 3 awards in the ceremony and how proud I was of myself. From that day, the girls in my class started to pick of me for being a know-it-all and teacher’s pet, and called me all kinds of hurtful names. They’d make fun of me sitting at the front of the class with my passionate glassy eyes for learning and wanting to succeed. It got so bad, that my mum has to start bribing me to go to school because I just cried and refused. I remember getting a gold star sticker on the calendar for each day that I didn’t cry when I got to school. If I got 5 stars in a row, we would go for ice-cream. A mum should not have to go that. Thinking about it now, I’m a little upset (cue the tears) at how hard that must have been. I know my mum reads these, so I’m sorry if you’re crying. Of course, at 8 years old, I didn’t know what I know now; that they were either threatened or jealous that I was perhaps getting better grades. There is no shame in being smart and wanting to learn and better yourself. People who chase their dreams are the ones who achieve them.
I eventually got through it (although I cannot remember how long it took) and became a stronger little girl. I started to see that I could be myself and it someone didn’t like that, I didn’t care. It continued through my primary school days but I became more resilient to it, and ignored them.
It happened again throughout my VCE years at high school. (The 2 final years of high school for those who don’t live here in Victoria). I was playing football, hockey and tennis for school and playing and refereeing fustal outside of school and made a bunch of new friends from being so close all the time. There were a few disagreements in the group at times because a few of us had strong/passionate personalities. I didn’t think that was unhealthy, because there are always disagreements in life. However, about half way through year 12, my last year of school, they literally cut me off one lunch time and started to make the next 6 months hell. (To this day, I still have no idea why) Luckily, a lot of my classes weren’t with them but lunchtimes were awful, alone. We also had a common room for year 12’s and if I was in there, they’d be loud and obnoxious towards me. I still had to play football and hockey against them or be on their teams but they wouldn’t make plays with me in it or would blatantly ignore my presence. I couldn’t understand how people who had been your friend for the past 2 years, could just up and drop you, like you were nothing. I became a library nerd, and would go in there most breaks to study and just get away from being lonely outside. Again, I tried to be better, tried to ignore it and eventually, when we graduated I would never have to see them again.
The last time I saw them was my year 12 graduation. My name was called to go and receive my certificate and award, and my table was towards the back of the room, so I had to walk across the whole dance floor on my way back and tables surrounded the whole thing. I was on my way back to my table, all smiles with my mum and brother there to see my get my certificate, and I look over at the table where these girls were and they’re, of course, all snickering and being rude, and one of them says ‘bitch’, loud enough for me to hear it but not loud enough for the room to hear. So I turn to her, then turn to the crowd and just say opening, loud enough, “Well, *undisclosed name* just called me bitch”, like it was nothing. I was grinning on my way back to my table, and for the rest of the right, because the rest of my year 12 class mates, had my back for the rest of that night. Those ‘mean’ girls left early and I never saw them again (have still not to this day). It might have been petty but I learnt through the battles, that you shouldn’t let bullies get to you and you should stand up to them.
Bullying just doesn’t happen to you as a kid, and go away when you’re an adult. People just become smarter about how they do it and you sometimes have more to loose by standing up to it.
I’ve grown up to be a very honest, driven and passionate person and if I disagree with something or believe that it’s damaging my personal integrity and morals, I’m not going to stand for it. If my name is on something, (it could be anything – building something, documenting/writing something or just being creative), I am going to make sure it’s executed to the best of my own ability, so I can proudly say I did my best. I’m also not going to take crap from anyone, questioning my own thoughts and sanity. That people, is called gaslighting and it’s an psychological form of bullying. Having been bullied throughout my school life (I’ve only given those 2 times because I want to stay on topic), there is no way now, I would let it happen as an adult. I will never be sorry for standing up for something I believe in. Bullies need to be stood up to and stopped.
At the end of the day, all people are born and all people will leave this earth. One person is not better than another, they are just different. I am not your competitor, I am your colleague, your friend or just a stranger, who’s story you do not know, yet. Bullying is not on. BE KIND. BE HUMBLE. If you have nothing to say, please don’t say anything, keep it to yourself.
Dolly, you were taken way too early, you beautiful girl. Your memory lives on through those in your family and every person that stands up to a bully. ❤