Yana Hempler - Overcoming the Bullies

by GEM Magazine / Jun 12, 2015 / Comments

If 10 years ago, I knew what I know now, my life may have been different. I may not have had as much social anxiety throughout my teenage years and even partway through university. I might have been able to overlook the bullying that I had to endure, knowing that one day I would be achieving my goals. However, life doesn't work like that.

There was a time when I wanted to fit in and be like the other kids so that I wouldn't feel alone, but I knew that could never be. Circumstances surrounding my life, such as being born in Russia, meant that I wasn't like everyone else. It was difficult to accept.

My experience in school was that if you are not willing to give in to peer pressure or if you are remotely different, then you are considered weird and kids will pick on you.

I would often go to the weight room or the track at lunch time and after school to avoid being that "lone" girl that everyone picked on at lunch and on the bus. This time was also a way for me to focus on my goals when things were getting tough. And believe me, they were tough. This access to fitness definitely made the biggest difference as it was the only way I knew how to escape.

I envied the popular girls and almost every day I went home feeling miserable from feeling like I didn't belong or the name calling I was subjected to. Anything they could think of, even when it didn't fit my description, was just another way to put me down. Unfortunately, it happened so often that I even started to believe it!

I struggled a lot and regardless of how well I did in fitness and academics, my self esteem did not improve as I placed far too much value on what others thought of me.

No one should ever let other people make them feel inferior.

Being rejected socially lead me to push my academics further but even then, the bullying would interfere. One time, a couple of students accused me of cheating on a test because I received a high mark. I requested a retest with bonus questions to prove to everyone that I wasn't a cheat and managed to get 100%. I actually saw it as an opportunity to thank them, saying that I wasn't happy with the previous mark of 98%.

By focusing on things that I could control, such as my fitness level and academic performance, I was able to get the bullying off my mind enough to get me by.

Through this hard work and dedication, as well as a burning desire to overcome all the adversities, I managed to graduate high school as the top academic student and received the female athlete of the year award. I was accepted into the University of Victoria on a scholarship and graduated debt-free with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree. Shortly thereafter, I became a nationally published fitness writer, running coach/personal trainer and fitness model.

Occasionally I am still affected by social anxiety. One incident especially changed how I viewed social situations; I had been invited to a party when I was younger and was so excited to get the chance to dress up and maybe even make some new friends. When I arrived, a girl opened the door, looked at me and said "No losers allowed", then slammed it in my face. I was heartbroken and wondered if life was always going to be like that. After that night I never went to any parties. I couldn't face the rejection.

Even now, if I get invited to a social event that isn't fitness related, I get anxious. I worry that people will judge me, or what I'm wearing or how I do my make-up. But when I'm in my fitness attire, I have no problem feeling comfortable as I am confident in my profession.

Put me in a room full of people to speak about running and I'll be fine. Put me in a bar or party with people I don't know and I feel uncomfortable.

Instead of letting my experiences stop me from living, I decided to dedicate my life to helping people overcome their own challenges. I love to empower others to become what I know they can become. For me, it's all about watching people achieve their goals and becoming the best that they can be.

My past has helped me to understand people better and the challenges they face, to accept others and treat them the way I want to be treated. I've become very open minded to people's differences and that has made a big impact on the way I'm able to work with others now.

To anyone who is being bullied, I promise you that life will get better if you just find enough strength to get through it. Keep on living your life and focus on the things your passionate about. Also, talk to someone about how you feel. It's important you don't do it alone.

I hope by sharing my story it provides some light and hope to those who might need it.

This world has no place for put downs, negativity and destruction.

In the future, I'd love to create an inspirational and safe environment for young people who are faced with difficulties in school. To give them a positive and healthy outlet in fitness and help them realize they can achieve anything they want.

Yana is a Personal Trainer, avid marathon runner and fitness writer. She designs safe, effective and personalized workout programs for her clients and loves to witness them achieve life-changing results.

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/YanaHemplerFitness
Instagram - @yhempler

gem's picture
The Contributor

GEM Magazine


GEM is pushing for Gender Equality, and encouraging people to share their message through free speech. It aims to create more positive ways to utilize the internet.

This publication is an open platform raising awareness and resonating with readers through truth, honesty and vulnerability on subjects affecting our daily lives.

GEM contains articles that educate, inspire and provoke thought around aspects that are of concern in our current society.

"We all have the ability to make a difference. Inside each and everyone of us, we have the power. We are the people."