“I AM Authentic” was the title of a class I helped teach at a local Southern California school this week. It was basically a discussion about bullying, which I was grateful to be doing because it actually fell on Spirit Day, a day to support LGBT youth who are bullied.

We discussed the types of roles that are assumed during a bullying scenario, i.e. the bully, defender, bystander, and target. During the closing discussion we asked everyone what role they hoped to play in real life if bullying were to occur in their presence. 

Some said they wanted to be the defender, some chose the bystander, some even chose to be the bully, but what was so interesting to me is that not a single person wanted to be the target. I mean, I think we all understand that no one “wants” to be bullied, but seeing that realization unfold in a classroom during a real discussion was pretty powerful for everyone. 

I know there were some shifts in perception about bullying that day, which is what it’s all about. I used to really believe that saying, “perception is reality.” But that’s not the truth. Perception is not reality. It’s an interpretation and an interpretation can change.

They say, “as you teach, you learn.” What I learned in that class this week is that being authentic is key and that when it comes to bullying, no one wants to be the target. No one.