“Always Be True to Yourself”
Do you remember watching Cory Matthews juggle school, friends, family, and romance from his middle school years all the way through his college graduation on the hit television show, “Boy Meets World?” Every Friday night, I made sure to catch the latest episode featuring my favorite cast of characters: Cory, his best friend Shawn Hunter, his longtime love interest Topanga Lawrence, and their wise old teacher turned principle, Mr. Feeny. These friends became a staple of my childhood, and I learned some of life’s greatest lessons right alongside them.
Cory and Topanga have recently reprised their roles in the revamped spin-off, “Girl Meets World,” which focuses on their 12-year-old daughter, Riley. While channel surfing the other day, I came across the latest episode of “Girl Meets World,” and got sucked into the storyline. It has been a while since I was in junior high, but the plots are still so relevant. This episode, entitled “Girl Meets Rileytown,” addressed the issue of bullying just in time for October’s Anti-bullying Awareness month to begin.
The audience finds out that Riley is being bullied at school. She just wants to be ordinary and go unnoticed, but is she is being persistently taunted by a classmate via text messages. Riley is humiliated and was hoping the bully would just go away on its own. She exclaims that “People should not make fun of other people” and asks, “What did I do to deserve this?”
The answer is nothing. No one ever deserves to be bullied.
Riley relays to her best friend, Maya, what the bully has been saying to her:
“You exist and you’re weird and you get in the way of where I’m looking. So stop being weird and stop being happy. Nobody should be as happy as you. Stop being who you are or I’m going to put my foot in your weird and stupid face.”
With Maya’s support, Riley finds the courage to stand up to her bully in front of the whole school. Riley faces her fears and lets her bully know that she is going to stay true to herself.
As is often the case on this show, what they are learning about in class mirrors the problems the students are encountering at home and in their personal lives. They’re discussing conflict resolution and Dad Cory gives out some sage advice:
“A bully is someone who uses power and intimidation to hurt others. The most powerful tool in the human being arsenal is the ability to solve conflict with words. There is nothing more valuable than friends when you have to go through life, but even if they’re not around, there is always someone to turn to – a parent, a teacher. It is okay to ask for help.”
According to the Pacer Center, children facing life-altering medical situations or a life-threatening illness are two to three times more likely to be bullied. It is a problem that many of the children at Kids Wish Network face. From vicious rumors to mean spirited “joking,” our Wish Kids have heard it all. As an organization, Kids Wish Network hopes to raise awareness about bullying and help others gain a better understanding of what victims of this epidemic are going through.
These are some key messages I took away from this episode on bullying –
• Real friends love you for being exactly who you are
• Always be true to yourself
• Conflict is best solved through open and honest communication
• It is okay to ask for help
• Never change to appease someone else’s idea of “normal”
• You do NOT deserve to be bullied
• Confide in an adult in your life that you trust like a teacher or a parent if you’re being bullied
Perhaps most importantly – remember that you are not alone; there is always someone to turn to.