Life Changing Moments #2: bullying

‘I was bullied for 13 years. I felt like nobody, besides my parents, cared about me,’ says Donna Mae, a 23-year-old Dutch pre-master’s student in International Business and Management.

Mae was bullied for her appearance when she was younger. ‘I don’t look like normal Dutch people. I am not blonde. My father is Dutch, but my mother is from the Philippines, so I look a bit Asian. My teeth are not straight. Because of all that, children in primary school made fun of me and called me names.’

At first, the bullying wasn’t that intense, but it eventually became her worst nightmare. ‘It was horrible. The only thing I ever wanted was just to fit in and be liked by the other children. Bullying is a very tough situation for a child to handle alone.’

‘I was alone’

Mae describes her school years as dreadful and solitary. ‘I felt that although I was standing in the middle of a big crowd, I was alone.’

Mae still lingers when she recalls one of her worst memories. ‘One day, in high school, a girl told me: ‘I wish you were dead.’ It was horrible.‘

The cruel comments hurt her so badly that she considered killing herself. ‘Once, I went to the train station and I thought: ‘This is it.’ I had decided to commit suicide, but I didn’t do it because of my parents.’

‘I had decided to commit suicide’
Their unconditional love and support during her personal odyssey kept Mae alive. ‘My parents were my rock during those years.’ Poetry was also an outlet for her feelings, and when she shared one of her poems with her teacher, she advised Mae to visit the school counselor. ‘She thought it was high time I got some help, and that’s what I did.’

Turning the page

At the age of 16, she decided to turn the page and start a new chapter in her life. ‘I went to Canada for a summer exchange program. I had a great summer and I was so thankful that I was still alive.’

Despite her circumstances, Mae was dreaming of a brighter future. ‘I always wanted to achieve something important in my life and that kept me focused. Now, here I am, studying at the University of Groningen. I am very proud of myself. Partly I am thankful that they bullied me. Every day I wake up and I feel so grateful that I have the opportunity to study, and bullying is the reason for that.’

Since the age of 14, she knew that she wanted to follow a career related to economics, and she is really excited about the programme she is studying. ‘I didn’t know the pre-master’s would be so focused on what I wanted to do. It is related to international companies, and since I want to obtain a high position in such a company, I believe it is ideal for me.’

Making amends

Although she still gets emotional sometimes, she has made amends with her past. ‘I know that they already know that I moved on with my life and that’s enough for me, I don’t need to get in touch with them.’

While her studies are very demanding, Mae is enjoying every minute of it. ‘Being able to study is a huge right for me. It’s not easy, but who said that life would be easy? I actually learned that the hard way.’

Have you or someone you know experienced something that changed your mindset or daily routine, for better or for worse? Valia is looking for people who are studying at the RUG and would like to share their experience with others. If you are interested, contact Valia and you could be the next guest featured on the Life Changing Moments podcast.