This is an article originally written for USA Volleyball in 2013. I wrote it after watching kids across the country and the world and how they often treated each other. I wanted to address bullying not just in how it affects the victims but to describe the actual choice bullies are making about themselves. You can find the original article here: http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2013/December/02/Dont-Bully-the-Passion-out-of-Greatness
Who do you want to be?
No, really. Stop. Actually think about what kind of person you want to be. What do you want to bring to the world? What kind of impression do you want to leave on the people you’ve touched in your life?
Maybe those feel like really deep questions but you’re answering them every day with everything you do and every interaction you have. So it might be a good idea to think about what your answers are. Because you can tell yourself you want to be the kind of person that makes the world better but that means absolutely nothing if it doesn’t come out in how you treat the people around you.
When I say the people around you, I mean all of them. It’s easy to be nice to people you like or those with authority over you or someone who’s higher up in the “social hierarchy”. But you know what? How you treat other people has nothing to do with who they are; it’s about who you are. So when you laugh at the unpopular girl at school or ignore the awkward kid on your team, it says nothing about them and everything about you. And it does not make you better than anyone else. Bullying never makes you cool; it just makes you a jerk.
Do you have any idea the power that you have? Every day when you get up in the morning, you have the ability to make other people’s lives better. With one word, one smile, you can brighten someone’s day and make the world a happier place. But every time you make someone feel bad about themselves, every time you judge someone for being different from you, every time you make someone feel like they are alone in this world all you do is make the world a little bit darker. So what do you want to do? Do you want to go to bed at night knowing that you’re responsible for a little more love and light in the world or for a little more pain? That’s the choice that you have every day and you will be remembered for that choice.