Aija Mayrock (25) is a bestselling author, spoken word artist, and anti-bullying activist, who uses her written and spoken word to serve as a guide for bullying victims around the world, while also touching on subjects like mental health and women’s issues.
As a victim of bullying herself, Mayrock is a symbol of perseverance, ultimately becoming the resource that she wished she had when she was younger. “When I was really young, I struggled with a lisp and a stutter,” Mayrock tells In The Know. “And so I always went to writing as my kind of escape and creative outlet.”
Mayrock struggled with bullying from the time she was 8 until she was 16. “It began with the way I spoke, and then it escalated to all sorts of other things,” she says.
“I was trying to work through that experience, and how it affected my mental health,” says Mayrock. “It was so bad that I would come to school every day and my classmates would tell me to kill myself and that my life wasn’t worth anything as young as in third grade.”
As Mayrock got older, social media was on the rise, which in turn led to her not only being bullied in school, but also being cyberbullied online. “It went from just being in school to 24/7,” she says.
Rather than talking to someone about what she was going through, Mayrock turned to writing as a way to cope with the bullying she was experiencing. But when she did speak up, the response she received was “It’s just kids being kids. It’s not a big deal.” To Mayrock, that response is not only a misconception, but it belittles a very serious issue. “Bullying is not just kids being kids,” says Mayrock. “There are a lot of young people who take their lives because of it.”
Mayrock knew that bullying expanded beyond her own personal experiences, so she wanted to find a way to connect with and help other victims. “I wanted to just show them that suicide was never the answer and that there were ways to advocate for yourself when it felt like no one else was listening or no one understood you,” she says.
“So I began writing my first book, The Survival Guide to Bullying. I like to look at it as a little handbook that any young person can hopefully use if they’re dealing with bullying in school or online, and they don’t know how to navigate it and they feel completely alone,” says Mayrock.
She began writing the book when she was 16, and after two-and-a-half years, she self-published an ebook. After spreading the word at schools across the country, Scholastic found her book and acquired it, which was a major turning point in Mayrock’s career.
After her first book was published, Mayrock went on a speaking tour, and found that when she used spoken word poetry, younger audiences were really able to connect with her message.
“The poetry thing really took off, and I wound up performing at Madison Square Garden three times, I performed at the U.N., and then from there I kept writing poetry,” says Mayrock.
Mayrock’s poems extended beyond bullying, covering topics like mental health and women’s issues. Eventually, she wrote her second book, Dear Girl, which is “about a journey from girlhood to young womanhood all told through poetry,” according to the author.
Now an influential figure, Mayrock relishes the opportunity to serve as a positive role model for bullying victims around the world.
“Bullying is something that happens to so many people. The amount of messages I get every single day, it’s wild,” Mayrock tells In The Know. “I got a message the other day from a girl who said she read my book and that it saved her life. My goal going into it was that if it would help one person see that light and hopefully ask for help, then that would have been what I had hoped for.”
If you are someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
You can also connect with a Crisis Text Line counselor at no charge by texting the word HOME to 741741.
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