At some point in our lives, we’ve all been bullied, and we’ve all been bullies. But as a wise Beatle once wrote, “Life is very short, and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.”
So, if you have the chance to apologize to someone you’ve hurt, take it. And if someone asks for your forgiveness, give it to them. In either case, if your efforts are sincere, you’ll never regret it.
Take it from these 19 bullies, who decided to apologize to the people that they had been cruel to in the past.
I’ll go first.
Back in high school, one of my closest friends had gotten into some drama with another girl and ended up getting her ass kicked pretty badly by the girl.
A few weeks later, My girlfriends and I were piling into my car after school when we saw the girl who had recently beat up my friend. They both started to yell back and forth at each other, and a crowd quickly gathered around my car.
At this point, someone from the crowd decided to make an executive decision and shouted out, “Fight at my house down the street!” and just like that 50 teenagers began to walk toward this random kid’s house.
Driving in my car at a snail’s pace alongside the walking crowd, my friend began to panic, and understandably so, considering the beating she had just received.
She couldn’t go through with it and begged me to just drive away.
But I knew that hitting the gas and speeding away in front of half of the school was basically social suicide.
I told my friend that we could NOT just drive away, so I’d just have to fight this girl for her. And that’s exactly what I did.
I’d say, all in all, it was a pretty decent fight with no obvious winner or loser, per say.
But it was enough to keep us from being the laughing stock of the whole school for the rest of the year, and so, for many years, I had no regrets over my decision.
But as the years continued to pass, I began to remember how my friend kind of had a big mouth and realized that she had probably gotten herself into that mess, not only once, but twice.
Finally, in retrospect, I could see that I wasn’t defending my friend or even our honor after all; I was defending my own ego.
Several years later, I was dropping off some paperwork at my work’s payroll company when I saw the girl sitting at the front desk.
I walked up and timidly handed her the paperwork as we shared a moment of eye contact, knowing that we both knew exactly who the other person was. She kindly took the paperwork and said she’d be right back.
I wrestled internally with apologizing. As I watched her co-workers shuffle in and out of the office, I came to a decision; if no one else was in the room when she came back, I would say something.
And sure enough, it was just the two of us, face to face, alone in that office when she returned.
I looked at her and said, “I just want to say that I’m sorry for what happened back in high school. It was none of my business, and I shouldn’t have gotten involved.”
She looked back at me and sincerely thanked me for my apology and acknowledged her own role in the whole sorted, embarrassing mess.
We shared a brief smile over our youthful transgressions before I walked out of that office emotionally 50 lbs lighter than I had walked in, and I never looked back.
Be the hero of the story.
I used to bully this kid named Michael all through elementary school up until 8th grade.
In my 8th grade English class we had to write a paper about our hero, and I wrote about my dad then my teacher told me to stay after class, and she handed me Michael’s paper, and he fucking wrote his about me.
I was his hero because I had so many friends and girls liked me.
I’ve never cried so fucking hard in my entire life (I’m actually tearing up now thinking about it), so I immediately found him and hugged him then apologized over and over.
From then on, I would jump on anyone’s ass that would bully him which confused the hell out of my friends and everyone else.
He ended up joining the air force, has a wife and kids and seems genuinely happy.
I’m not crying. You’re crying! Okay, fine. We’re all crying.
If this story doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’re a monster.
I bullied a bully, so I guess that doesn’t make me anything less than a bully.
After I was done with high school, this sense kicked into me. I called up the original bully and apologized to him, saying that, ‘I am sorry for what I did back in school. I was young/dick and thought it was cool, but I am really sorry.’
He was like, ‘no man; it’s all cool. Don’t worry about it and all.’ We met after that, and we’re good friends now.
Fast forward 2 years, I meet the guy who was bullied by the original bully.
We are catching up, and he tells me that ‘original bully’ called him last year and apologized for what he did back in school. This dude was very surprised by this gesture.
I was surprised too, but it was followed by a really good feeling.
Yaaas. Go pick up the phone. Email works, too.
“Silence is the voice of complicity.”
Throughout school, there was this kid that I was friends with off and on.
I wasn’t a popular kid myself and got harassed often, but this other kid was mercilessly bullied all day long.
I never stood up for him, never spoke out about what was happening, and never helped.
He disappeared for the last two years of high school, and no one knew where he went.
A few months before graduation, I was walking down a hall in school, and he walked by. I said hi and asked how he was, actually happy to see him. But he gave me a nasty look and asked why I cared.
I don’t remember the whole conversation, but I remember it ended with me saying that I never did anything to him. He replied, “Yeah, but you didn’t do anything to stop it either.”
He walked off, and I never saw him again.
It always stuck with me, and it is one of my only regrets.
When I was 21, I was working at a local restaurant as a bartender when his parents walked in and sat down. We started talking, and they caught me up on their son’s life.
I then told them about what happened during school when we were younger and asked them to pass on my apology. That’s the closest I think I’ll ever get.
He doesn’t have any social media accounts that I can find and last I heard he lived in another country.
The lesson I learned from him is that bullying isn’t just about the actions taken against a victim.
It’s also the inaction of those that can intervene.
These two old ‘friends’ have two different versions of the past.
I had a friend in grade school, and we were always horsing around, wrestling, etc.
We ended up going to different high schools, and I didn’t see him for years until we were both at a forensics tournament in high school. I was excited to see him, but he introduced me to his friends as “The guy who used to bully me in grade school.”
I was sad that day. I may have cried a little.
I did apologize, but he just brushed it off, didn’t seem to care. Never saw him again.
He never said anything about it. I was a lot bigger than him. I may have been hurting him without even realizing it. Maybe I was a bit Lennie-esque as a kid, I dunno.
Man, I may have cried a little, too, just reading this.
This next guy had a slightly more positive experience when he ran into the person he bullied.
Be willing to risk one moment of awkwardness for a lifetime of absolution.
Saw a girl I’d been a dick to in high school recently, after about 13 years of not seeing her. I recognized her, she recognized me.
There was an awkward moment where we both pretended that we didn’t recognize each other, but I decided just to buck up and do the right thing.
Went over to her and said, “Hey, I don’t know if you remember me very well, but I was sort of a dick to you in high school, and I’m really sorry. You didn’t deserve any of that. I don’t know what was wrong with me.”
She got this confused look, then smiled really big and said, “You were a dick! You were awful to me! Thanks for saying that.”
Then she introduced me to her fiance and I got some wedding details and congratulated her, and that was pretty much it.
“There are no innocents.”
I had a “friend” in middle school. She was bossy and mean, and I dreaded hanging out with her – but a mean friend is better than no friends, right?
I ran into her 17 years later at a happy hour, and she introduced me to her husband as “the girl who made her cry in middle school.”
Apparently, I was just as shitty to her as she was to me, and I had no idea.
Looking back on those years, I think that’s part of the age and comes with figuring out social cues and learning how not to be a dick. 🙁
“An apology is the superglue of life; it can repair just about anything.” -Lynne Johnston
I was usually the one bullied. But this instance I became to bully and felt really bad for it.
When I was in 10th grade, an older guy in the school took interest in me, and we started dating. He was popular, and I was not. His friends constantly made fun of him for dating me.
His ex-girlfriend who was in the same school happened to be a popular cheerleader, and she was very pretty and well- liked.
I wanted to be her so badly. I felt insecure. So I started calling her names anytime I saw her.
I would yell “whore” or something when she walked by, really immature shit.
The next school year she was handing out fliers for the first day of school, and I went up to her and sincerely apologized.
I told her I was jealous of her and I was acting ridiculous and that I hoped I didn’t cause her too much shit.
She graciously accepted the apology, and we never had an issue after that.
What made me feel worse was she never tried to be mean to me back. She was always kind no matter how I treated her. She deserved the apology.
This next one proves that it’s possible to go from bully to bestie and with just two simple words.
I was a massive asshole to this girl in middle school.
I got to say sorry 4 years later at a reunion.
I still have no idea why I acted like that. It was just wrong and if I could slap my younger self, I would.
Just because you’re currently on good terms with someone, doesn’t mean you don’t owe them an apology.
I would like to preface this by saying generally, I was not a bully. I despised them, and I was bullied consistently throughout high school.
I’m not excusing what I did; it probably makes what I did even more deplorable. I’m just trying to explain where I was coming from.
That said, there was one time in my sophomore history class, where I absolutely bullied another student, Anthony.
Some other students were teasing him quietly during a movie. We were all in the same area of the classroom, far from the teacher.
He was chubby and pretty flamboyantly gay, and that’s what he was getting teased about. One of the bullies who was teasing him asked me to ask Anthony something homophobic.
I honestly can’t remember what it was, but it was cruel. This bully, for whatever reason was always nice to me.
I wouldn’t say we were friends, but we would sit around and bullshit during class when we had a moment. I was scared of that changing because I could see now what he could be like.
So I did what was asked.
Anthony, who I also talked to from time to time, got so flustered he never said another thing during class. Before that day I had never said anything mean to him, and he and I generally got along.
I took that all for granted just to stay on another bullies good side.
Fast forward to senior year. Anthony and I were actually friends. We had never once talked about what I did and I never even thought about it.
He wasn’t bullied near as much as far as I could tell, and I wasn’t near as much either (though it still happened).
We had American Literature together, and during a presentation, he gave to the class, he brought up that he was bullied all throughout high school, and his struggles with peers and family.
Sophomore year came flashing back to me, and I think I visibly deflated in class. I had never felt so low and like such a piece of shit. After class was over, I pulled him aside in the hall to talk to him. I said to him:
Me: Dude, Anthony. I don’t know if you remember, but I said some shit to you back in History a couple years a-
Anthony: I remember. I think I remember all of it.
Me: I can’t explain how sorry I am. I was such a shit, man. I don’t understand how you don’t hate me.
Anthony: (I’m paraphrasing this one) “I forgave you a long time ago. You and I have been friends for a while, and I know you are a good person. Outside of that one day you never treated me any different than anyone else.”
I almost cried after that. We talked for a little bit after and when we went our separate ways, I think everything was good.
I didn’t deserve such a smooth resolution, but it just shows how strong of a person he was/is.
We didn’t talk much after high school, but I like to think his presentation made me a better person and that day was one of my biggest days as far as personal growth is concerned.
Not all of us are so fortunate as to be presented with the opportunity to make our amends, like this next woman.
Say it any way you can.
Oh, yeah. Me too. I was a little shit in elementary school—no chance or way of making those amends—to one or possibly two people.
But I also stuck up for the bullied too. In high school, I was pretty decent, but there was this one really weird guy that was very strange and awkward and hard to be around.
None of my peers at the time had heard of autism, but upon reflection, I’m quite certain he was on the spectrum.
I feel bad, Alan. I do. I hope things are going well for you now.
If life’s circumstances have made it impossible for you to make amends to someone, you can still say that you’re sorry.
There are a lot of ways to apologize. Tell someone else, cast your words to the universe, and who knows, maybe somehow, some way, someday, they’ll hear them.
Hey, Alan, we hope things are going well for you now, too!
Make friends, not enemies.
Was a shithead sports kid in elementary school. Made fun of the new kid from Catholic school on the bus in middle school from the first day.
One day I guess I felt bad and sat next to him, asked if he hated me, and apologized.
We’re still friends over 15 years later, play board games every other weekend at his apartment, and games whenever we can online.
Who cares about playing football after school when you can play Halo every day after school with giant airplane pizzas instead?
He lived a 3-minute walk away so we hung out constantly.
Currently about 80 hours into our Divinity Original Sin 2 playthrough with 2 other of our friends. If you haven’t played it, god damn it’s amazing.
To err is human, to forgive, divine.
I and almost the whole 3 classes of our year bullied this kid for a long time, probably for 6-7 years.
About 8 years ago that person suddenly popped up as a suggested friend on Facebook, and it all came back to me. Man, I felt like a piece of shit.
I sent the guy a friend request and a message and wrote him that I was sorry. I listed the things that I remembered I did to him and asked if there was anything else that I didn’t remember.
He said that he forgave me and that I wasn’t the first one to talk to him about it.
This guy is doing really good today, has many friends, loves his job and is in such a good shape it makes me feel embarrassed. I’m really happy that he is doing so well.
But even though he said it was okay, and it was forgiven, I still feel like a piece of shit when I think back to it.
This bully got burned big time by mama-bear.
One of my friends was a “mouth breather” in kindergarten, like that really loud “hhhhhhhheeeeessssssshhhhh” sound.
I was standing next to him in line, and it started to annoy the hell out of me, so I just burst out, “STOP BREATHING!!!!!”
Years later, in middle school I think, we became friends (I didn’t remember the incident or even realize he was the same kid), and I go over to his mom’s house, and she says, “Isn’t this that kid that told you to stop breathing?”
When she puts it like that, yeah, he kinda had this coming.
There is no statute of limitations on apologizing, nor on forgiveness.
About 7 years after school, I went to get new glasses because my old ones broke and the manager of the story instantly recognized me: It was the kid I bullied.
I was so uncomfortable, not only was he the manager of the store and said he wanted to help me himself (what the manager normally doesn’t do), but also because I started to remember what I did to him.
I suspected some kind of trick, but he was really kind and good at his job.
He even made me an offer with a certain percentage off the costs of the glasses, so I paid for them and was told I could get them a week later. I asked if he would work then and he said yes.
So a week later I go to get my glasses and ask if he would have a minute to talk in private.
I was really nervous, but I apologized for what I did and how shitty I was and told him that I was bullied before and thought it was my right to bully someone else.
He said he was angry at the time, but it faded, and he wasn’t angry anymore because he understood that some people bully others because they have problems dealing with their own circumstances.
He accepted the apology and we exchanged numbers. We aren’t best friends or anything but we see each other on occasion and talk sometimes over WhatsApp about random stuff.
If you want to know what accountability sounds like, this next guy will show you how it’s done.
Bullying doesn’t just start at home, it ends at home.
When was a lot younger I remember I was a bully to another kid in school. I’d be mean and call him ugly in front of my other friends.
He lived pretty close by, and one day his parents came over with him and told my parents how I’d been bullying him during school.
I’m glad that happened.
We ended up playing video games that day and getting along. This was about the time my parents divorced, and I moved away and never saw him again.
But I’m glad I was called out then on my behavior and was able to fix it.
Family is family and Life is short.
I bullied my younger sister mercilessly for her size when we were younger. Aged out of doing that around 13-14 years old.
Was 16 or 17 when I realized how mean I had been and knew it was time to apologize when I realized that it physically hurt me thinking about the way I had treated her.
I love her so much.
So I apologized, and it was so ranty and redundant, but she accepted it, and I’ve tried to be a good friend and a great brother ever since.
For some reason her quiet smile and acceptance of my apology made me feel even worse. No idea why there was this 3 year or so window in my childhood where I behaved that way.
She and I are in our twenties now, and I step outside of work most days to call her and tell her I love her.
This guy wasn’t quite as funny as he thought he was in high school.
I had a similar situation in high school. My type of humor is basically to talk shit jokingly to people I like and have them do the same to me.
I also have a really dry sense of humor sometimes.
Senior year someone said that I had always been kind of mean and I told them that I was joking and didn’t realize anyone thought otherwise. I felt really bad about it.
Thanks to social media, redemption is at your fingertips.
My bully all through middle and high school sent me a Facebook message during college when Glee was airing and apologized for outing me to random people, bullying me for being a lesbian, and treating my then-girlfriend like shit.
Apparently, the show made her feel horrible about what she did.
And as a random bizarre cherry on top, she also apologized for making fun of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which in the face of everything else she did I completely forgot about.
It’s time to say… Hello from the other side. At least you can say that you tried.
And if you don’t know what to say, how to say it, or where to begin, just send them this story, subject line: “I’m sorry.”
And with only one swift click and two simple words, you’ll manage to say it all.
Share this with a friend to encourage them to apologize to anyone they may have hurt in the past.