My best friend Shani is so kind, funny and cool. We met on the first day of school, and she offered to share her lunch with me - we've been besties ever since!
Now in our last year of high school, Shani has started to pick on the girls in the grade below. She does things like stick stinky food in their bags or hide their books.
All of our friend group is uncomfortable with it - but no one is saying anything.
One day I saw how upset one of the girls she was mean to was and I knew I had to say something.
I was nervous to have the conversation, but I knew if I approached it in the right way, I’d have a better chance of being heard.
Firstly, I made sure I did it privately and in a space that Shani was comfortable in. I didn't want her to think I was trying to fight with her.
Then, I made sure to tell her that I wanted to talk this through because I care about her and our friendship. I reminded her about how we became friends because she was so kind and supportive and it was hard to watch her be mean to other kids at school. Then I just asked her if she had noticed a change in herself and if she was okay.
Shani looked a bit angry at first, but I gave her space to talk about her perspective on it. I made sure I listened without interrupting. Shani confessed that she thinks the reason she has been picking on the girls in the grade below is that she is nervous to be leaving school next year.
She doesn't know what comes next for her and she is jealous that they have more time to figure it out.
After our chat, we talked through some of the options she had for when school finishes. That she could also do more studies and work part time until she finds what she is passionate about.
By speaking up, the bullying stopped and also the reason behind Shani acting out was resolved. I'm so glad I spoke up - it really made our friendship closer.
I hope you now feel you also can have difficult conversations with loved ones. Come from a calm place, remind the person that you are bringing it up because you care about your relationship and then be sure to listen to their side.