"Going back to camp was the best decision I ever made," says Lauren. My name is Lauren and I'm a 17-year-old high school senior. Performing and being on stage is my passion. I love to sing, love my friends, love to laugh and love to have fun. I am confident and never let events or people become obstacles in my life--always striving to be the best me I can be--and I like to live by a quote from Diane Von Furstenberg, "Just be yourself, not an imitation." I also loved camp--all seven years. My bunkmates are my sisters forever.
During middle school we had a Facebook 'honesty box.' By the time I got to high school, no one used it, and most people forgot they had one. One night during my sophomore year, I received a notification that I had one new 'honesty box' message. I opened it and was shocked to get a message from a camp friend, saying that I shouldn't return to camp for several reasons--my weight being one of them. I was devastated that someone I had known since the age of 9 thought these things about me. And worse, they signed the message from the entire bunk, so I had no clue who wrote it.
I was a wreck. I didn't talk to my friends at home or school for months. I rarely laughed and instead of going to parties and hanging out with friends on the weekends, I made excuses to stay home and sit in my room alone. I isolated myself from everyone around me, stopped eating and my grades started suffering.
After a while, I decided that I wouldn't let this cyberbully control my life. Word got out about what had happened to me and soon all my friends from school and camp rushed to my side. They found out who wrote the honesty box message, so I could confront her.
I made the decision to return to camp that summer because it was my last year. I believe that if you start something, you finish it. Going back to camp was the best decision I ever made. My being there showed the bully that I was strong and wouldn't stand for her cruelty, and it showed everyone around me, including myself, that I was strong. I learned that you should never let someone define who you are. Always stay strong and be confident.
Last year I became a Teen Ambassador for STOMP Out Bullying™ and am proud to work to educate others about cyberbullying and its effects.