James McLaughlin Interview by Brian Kearney
Adult Survivor of Bullying Shares His Insights With "Subjects" of Bullying
James McLaughlin was bullied throughout Middle and High School, causing him severe anxiety and resulting in low self-esteem and missing hundreds of days of school.
Now, 19 years old and in college majoring in Journalism, James shares his story of courage and forgiveness through his beautiful pieces of writing. He strives to share his story and urges those who are bullied or feel “different” to be themselves, and to remember, it gets better.
James McLaughlin can be followed on Twitter @jimmymac1191. You can also watch his inspiring “It Gets Better” video here. Be sure to check out his upcoming features in Out in New Jersey and Smythe Magazine.
Q: What has being a victim of bullying taught you?
A: Well, I do not look at myself as a victim of bullying; I believe that I have been a subject of bullying. With that said, being subjected to much bullying it has not just taught me so many things, but in a way enriched my life. Bullying has taught me to look for where the true problems lay in situations. The true problem was not with me, there is nothing wrong with me. The problem was with those who were offensive to me. I realized this when I came to terms with the issues with myself, for a long time I was my biggest bully. Once I cleared the air with myself, I realized there is no shame in dealing with other’s harassment. It was a problem they had with themselves, my presence in their lives was simply bringing those issues that they had to the surface. The problem lied with them, I was the normal one, I was the happy one being myself.
Q: What advice would you give those who are being bullied?
A: Advice I must give to those who are being bullied would be to not look for acceptance from others. Do not look for acceptance from any clique or any group of friends. The key to stopping bullying from affecting you is to find acceptance with one person… yourself. Once you accept yourself for who you are, the opinions of others become outrageously unimportant. It’s natural to seek the acceptance of your peers, we all want friends, and we all want to be well liked. Yet, when we don’t like ourselves, others will not like us. When I began liking who I was, others began liking me. I didn’t seek out acceptance from others, people began seeking my acceptance and it created a new group of friends, all of whom are each great, accepting individuals.
Q: Did you do anything that helped you cope with being bullied?
A: I believe the one thing that helped cope with others’ words would be dreaming. I’d dream of my future and what it would be like. I’d dream of a change that would turn the tables. My dreams never included anyone else’s nightmare, and so when the tables had turned and I had the power, I would forgive those who have done me wrong. I think overcomebullying.org is an amazing place for you to visit because you have the opportunity to see into people with similar experiences. See their nightmares, see their dreams, and see their dreams come true and their nightmares die. Seeing this will inspire you to create your own dream for your own future.
Q: If you could have done one thing differently, what would it be?
A: If I could have done something differently, I believe it would not have taken me to the place I am today. Just as I am today thankful for the negative experiences of my past, I am truly content with the choices that I have made. Because LGBT teens have a much higher likelihood of suicide, I am thankful that I am still here. With that, I know there is a large amount of people who wish they could have done something differently. I say this because these are things that cannot be undone. It is like watching a movie that you have seen before and hoping that something you know is going to happen, won’t happen. People cannot be brought back to life, yet there are so many who believe they have nothing left to live for, unlike many; you have life, and this should be reason enough.
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