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Rising above criticism

Everyone has bad days, it’s part and parcel of life. But some days are worse than others, especially when unkind words are said about you unprovoked. Thoughts like “What did I do to deserve this?” or “Am I really who they say I am?” could linger in our minds longer than necessary and affect us subconsciously to believe these lies.

14-year-old Jansen* was one such youth who experienced such bullying. However, he did not let the negativity overcome him. Instead, he picked himself up and rose above the criticism.

Here’s how:

“When I was in Primary 4, I started gaining weight because I really liked to eat Laksa, it was my favourite food then. People took notice of my weight gain and started making mean comments about it, calling me things like “Fat A**” and constantly pointing out that I was overweight.

I would walk around school and some friends or random people would call me these names. It made me look at myself and agree with them and it made me feel bad about myself and made me think that my identity is being overweight.

Comments about my weight have also come from my family, but not in a criticising tone. They gave the same remarks hoping that it will motivate me to get healthy, exercise and be better, especially my mother.

These comments have haunted me till now (secondary school) as people will still call me names and make mean remarks randomly. Sometimes even my friends blurt out mean things when we get into arguments and I feel quite hurt when this happens.

I decided that I didn’t want to keep hearing these same remarks so I started going to the gym and watched my diet. Having interests like football motivated me to continue my gym routine so that my stamina could improve and I would get fit and healthy.

Going to the gym more often with my friends has improved my stamina because in the past during PE I would have to take breaks in between runs but now I can run continuously without stopping.

It wasn’t easy to keep a positive attitude since the comments made to me really hurt my feelings and self-esteem but I didn’t want to let these comments define who I am. To anyone who has gone through or is going through the same thing, don’t give up in life because there are people around you who are there to motivate and journey with you in life.

These people are my family and friends, cousins, teachers, and the YGOS staff as they were always there to hear me share my struggles and play soccer together with me, which I appreciate.”

Mental resilience can be built not only by persevering through your struggles but also by surrounding yourself with people who support and encourage you during tough times. If you would like to find out more about our work or join us in being part of that support for our youths, please feel free to drop us an email at or visit our website at for more information.

*The youth's name has been changed to protect his identity.

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