The most common bullying experience is being taunted or ridiculed for being “different” in some way. I’m the poster child for this. For most of my life, I’ve been a bully magnet. I’ve heard every imaginable nasty comment about my lack of limbs. Cruel jokes. Even physical threats. Still, if you are being bullied, it hurts.
It didn’t help that my family moved a couple of times when I was in school. We went from one side of Australia to the other, then we moved to the United States and back again. At each new school, I wasn’t just the only kid with no arms and no legs; I was usually the only kid in a wheelchair. When we moved to the United States, I hit the bully-target trifecta: I was the only kid in my school with no arms and no legs, the only kid in a wheelchair, and the only kid with an Australian accent!
Different? Me, mate?
Sure, I stood out from the crowd, and the fact that I was often the new kid without friends made me an even easier target. But I realised early on that bullies would find a reason to pick on anyone. They called the smart kids “nerds,” the tall kids “bird legs,” and the short kids “runts.” If perfect people existed, bullies probably would mock them for being “too perfect.”
Still, if you are being bullied, it hurts. It’s a terrible experience that often seems like it will never end. As someone who endured it throughout my teenage years and still runs into it from time to time, I want to give you hope and peace. You can rise above and beyond it.
God put you on this earth because He loves you and He has a plan for you. With His help, you will be able to put your bullies in their proper place so their taunts and shunning won’t matter to you. My experience proves that anyone can rise above bullying and have a ridiculously wonderful life. I know you can do the same.
To help you begin, I want to plant a thought in your brain. This is blatant mind control, of course; so if you want to block it, go ahead and put tinfoil around your head. (It will look silly, but that’s okay with me if it’s okay with you.) The thought I want you to consider is that while being bullied is an awful thing to go through, it can also be a great opportunity.
I know what you are thinking: Nick must have been kicked in the head by a kangaroo! No, it was a wallaby. But aside from that, I believe you can turn your evil bully into a source for good in your life. Instead of letting your antagonist drive you nuts, depress you, dog your every thought, ruin your sleep, and stomp all over your dreams, why not turn the tables?
While being bullied is an awful thing to go through, it can also be a great opportunity.
Bullies want to abuse you. Instead of allowing that, you can use them as your personal motivators. Power up and let the bully eat your dust. I want to help you build your antibully antibodies. This is a process that works by building strength from the inside out, from your deepest thoughts and feelings—your heart and soul—to the way you see the world, make decisions, and take actions. You build your bully defence system from the inside out by
1. figuring out who you are so no bully can tell you differently or make you feel badly;
2. taking responsibility for your own behaviour and happiness so bullies have no ultimate power over you;
3. establishing strong values that no bully can shake;
4. creating a safety zone within yourself where you can go mentally to draw strength and comfort;
5. building strong and supportive relationships to stand up for you against bullies;
6. learning to monitor and manage your responses to the emotions triggered by bullying;
7. developing a spiritual foundation to help you be at peace and be strong against bullying;
8. taking the opportunity to learn from your bullying experience so that you can become stronger, wiser, more confident, more faith filled, and more prepared to handle any challenges;
9. creating your bully defence strategy so you are prepared to handle bullies of all kinds; and
10. mastering empathy so you are aware of the needs of others and serve them whenever possible to help them overcome bullying.
Once all those things are in place, you will have your own bully defence system. Then you can join me in working to eradicate the epidemic of bullying so no one else has to suffer. Together, with God’s help, we can bring an end to the bullying epidemic.
Too often people who are bullied become bullies themselves. It’s a vicious cycle, and one of my goals in writing this book is to break it by first helping you so you can then help me and all the others around the globe dedicated to ridding the world of bullying.
We can do this. We can band together and make this a bully-free world. In 2012, I visited a school in Hawaii to talk about bullying. About a year later, the headmaster sent me a letter saying that my visit had changed the school. He said they did not have a single instance of bullying for an entire year after I talked to the students!
If you are a teen and you are overwhelmed by bullying in any form, this book will help you understand that the game bullies play is designed to make you feel bad so they can feel superior. Refuse to play that game. Instead, believe those who love you when we say you matter to us and to your Creator. You are a child of God, created in His image. You are beautiful. You are the perfectly unique you.
That doesn’t mean you are flawless, but that’s the beauty of it. We are all perfect and imperfect at the same time. God designed us this way because there is beauty in both, and purpose too.
Excerpted from Stand Strong by Nick Vujicic Copyright © 2014 by Nick Vujicic. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
International motivational speaker and New York Times best-selling author Nick Vujici was born in 1982 in Melbourne, Australia. Without any medical explanation or warning, Nick came into the world with neither arms nor legs. Throughout his childhood, Nick dealt not only with the typical challenges of school and adolescence, such as bullying and self-esteem issues, he also struggled with depression and loneliness as he questioned why he was different from all the other kids. He couldn’t get the haunting question of “Why was I the one born without arms and legs?” out of his head.
As Nick grew up, he learned to deal with his disability and started to accomplish more and more on his own. A janitor at his high school inspired him to start speaking publicly about overcoming adversity, so Nick starting speaking to small groups of students when he was 17. After high school, Nick went on with further study and obtained a double Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Accounting and Financial Planning, from Griffith University in Logan, Australia.
By the age of 19, Nick started to fulfill his dream of encouraging other people with motivational speeches revolving around his life story. He found the purpose of his existence, and also the purpose in his circumstance. Nick eventually made the move from Brisbane, Australia to Los Angeles, where he is the president of an international non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs, and also has his own motivational speaking company, Attitude Is Altitude. He married the love of his life, Kanae, in 2012, and they welcomed their son, Kiyoshi, in February 2013.
Since his first motivational speaking engagement back when he was a teenager, Nick has travelled to over 54 countries, sharing his story with millions of people. In 2013 Nick travelled to 25 countries as part of his World Tour Outreach, and reached an estimated 400 million people through his speaking events and through broadcast media. Nick is the author of Life Without Limits, Unstoppable, Limitless, and Stand Strong. His books have been translated into 30 different languages.
Nick’s story continues to resonate worldwide, and he has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, Oprah’s LifeClass, PBS Religion & Ethics News Weekly, USA Today, NewsMax, Life Today and The 700 Club, and twice on 60 Minutes Australia.
“If you’re alive, you have the gift of growing,” Vujicic says. “Battle after battle, you need to understand: you will get through this. That’s the power of hope . . . if you don’t get a miracle, you can still be a miracle.”
For more information: LifeWithoutLimbs.org, facebook.com/NickVujicic or youtube.com/nickvujicictv.