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Aija
Mayrock

Anti-Bullying Activist and Role Model

Growing up in suburban New York, young Aija Mayrock was unfortunately bullied by classmates. To this day, Mayrock isn’t quite sure why she was treated so harshly by her peers. It was a heartbreaking experience for Mayrock, and absolutely not a way to treat anyone. Mayrock’s family later moved to California
where she eventually found a high school where she thrived, and even won some screenwriting awards!

With support from her family, Mayrock wrote a book about her experiences called The Survival Guide to Bullying. She did all her own research for the book, interviewed experts and families, and shared her own stories. She’s currently an anti-bullying advocate, actress, writer, and college student. In this interview, Mayrock shares her advice and her story with LaTEEN readers.

What have you been up to since your book was nationally published in 2015?
I’ve been traveling the world speaking and rapping to kids, educators, and community leaders. I have spoken to upwards of 3 million people in the last year! I have also worked with ABC and Disney Channel, the United Nations, and more, on anti-bullying. I also am a full time student at NYU. I am working on a big tour for this fall. I want to travel to as many states as possible and do events, meet-and-greets, and book signings. So if you want to reach out to me for an event in your community, feel free to!

You were unfairly bullied online. How do you manage your social media accounts today?
Social media is a wonderful way to reach people around the world. But it can also be used for negative purposes. I try to only put out positive posts through my social media and I use it as a way to keep in touch with my readers and fans. I respond to all of my messages and really love to hear from people. I also get hate. It used to be harder to tolerate that when I was younger. Now, I just try not to read mean messages, because even though I don’t know the people who are sending them, it is still hurtful and affects how I see myself and go about my day.

Did you ever hear an apology from your bullies— especially since you’ve gone public with your story?
I’ve never gotten an apology from my bullies. And I even go to
university with someone who used to bully me! I’ve come face to face with him and – nothing. It’s something that I’ve had to let go of. As healing as it would be to get an apology, it might never happen for me. And that’s okay, too. I have worked so hard to become the person I am today, to build up my emotional strength, and to be confident. I don’t need another person to validate that for me. I’ve validated it for myself.

How do people at college react when you tell them about your book and your past?
They are so incredibly supportive. NYU did a lot of press about me last year and I was a little nervous that it would make people standoffish towards me. But it’s been just the opposite. It’s so funny because when I was in high school and being bullied, I had no friends. My mom always told me that when I got to college people would be different and I’d have tons of people who understood me. I never believed her. But she was so right! I love that at university there are SO many different kinds of people and there are no cliques. It’s the best.

How did your experience make you emotionally stronger?
At first, it made me incredibly fragile. I dealt with a lot of depression and anxiety. It took me years to build myself up to the person I am today. I went to therapy and wrote my book—both of which were tremendously healing. And now, I see my experience as a positive. It did make me emotionally strong. It made me passionate and determined and feisty. I can’t say that I am grateful for what I went through, but I believe I took lemons and made lemonade.

What advice do you have for teens who are being bullied or feel alone?
Whether you feel alone or you are being bullied, please, please, please do not go through it alone. That was the biggest mistake I
made. I didn’t tell anyone because I thought I could handle it and
I thought that no one really understood what I was going through. But I was so wrong. No matter how alone you feel, know that there are people in your life who love you and care about you and want to help you. But they can’t without you opening up.

The Survival Guide to Bullying: Written by a Teen is available in paperback or via Kindle. Print Length: 160 pages; Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; Revised edition (June 30, 2015)

If you are seeking some guidance or help, Aija Mayrock recommends contacting the Trevor Lifeline:

866-488 -7386.

Learn more about Aija Mayrock at aijamayrock.com.

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