It takes very little time or effort to be cruel to someone, but that negativity and trauma can stay with them for a lifetime. This is why bullying, particularly in school years, needs to stop.
Of course, there’s a limit to how much teachers, staff, and even parents can do to prevent this kind of behavior – for things to really change, there needs to be some personal growth within the bullies themselves.
A man has shared the amazing moment his former school bully reached out to him to apologize. Twenty-four-year-old Mina Gerges from Toronto, Canada, took to Twitter to share a screenshot of a message sent to him by someone who had picked on him in school eight years prior.
My highschool bully just messaged me to apologize and tbh this is the kind of energy I need in 2019 🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/BKQ5B9Md7Z
— Mina Gerges (@itsMinaGerges) December 29, 2018
The message reads: “Hey man. I just want to apologise for any f*cked up things I said to you or about you in high school. It weighs on me. I hope all is well. Cheers.”
Mina, who was born in Egypt and grew up in Abu Dhabi before moving to Canada aged 12, had to put up with a lot during his school years. Speaking to the Metro, he revealed that he had been ‘bullied a lot’ for his accent, his high-pitched voice, his weight, and his interests in art and acting.
As well as being new to the country and doing his best to fit in culturally, he was also coming to terms with being gay. It was a hard time for young Mina, and being bullied in school made it so much more difficult.
In interviews, he has described the cruel ways in which other pupils would mock his voice or use homophobic slurs when speaking to him. Now, years later, Mina is proud of who he is and is an LGBT advocate, but receiving this message took him by surprise.
I messaged him back and asked him why he thought about it 8 years later and he said he felt really bad about it for a while, should’ve been kinder instead, and wished he’d done it sooner. We love growth!
— Mina Gerges (@itsMinaGerges) December 30, 2018
He told the Metro: “At first I was shocked to see this message since high school was almost eight years ago.”
“It brought back a lot of feelings I had when I was in high school of trying so hard to belong, getting bullied for being who I am and feeling lonely for not having anyone to talk to about this, and the long journey it took me since high school to love myself despite what these bullies and my culture say about being gay.”
One part of the message was quite telling – “It weighs on me”. This is an admission that this person’s awful behavior in the past made them feel guilty to this day. Now, as an adult, you have no obligation to appease your bully’s conscience, and Mina would have been well within his rights to tell his former bully where he could shove his apology.
However, Mina says he has learned how to be ’empathetic and compassionate’ as an adult, and so had accepted the apology with grace and good faith. Good for him.
Since sharing the post, Mina has been inundated with responses from people who say that they would love their former bullies to follow suit. Others responded to say that they had received similar messages from people who picked on them in the past.
Mina thanked the former bully for his apology, and the pair struck up a conversation, with Mina asking what it was that had prompted the message after all this time.
“He told me that it’d been weighing on his conscience for a while,” Mina explained. “And that he’d wished he’d apologized sooner and that even though he can’t undo his actions or their impact on me, that he hopes that owning up to his actions and this apology and will help me heal”
Some would say that the easing of his conscience was more of a motivation than Mina’s well-being and healing, but Mina was happy to let that pass.
“He also said he was thankful that I accepted his apology after all these years, and that he’s always open to chat more if I’d like to.”
I think we can all take a leaf out of Mina’s book and try to start 2019 as positively as he has.