I’m Tylar Masters, and I have a story to tell you.
Every day I was anxious and nervous to go to school. I dreaded recess – which was when and where all of the bullying happened. I didn’t have any friends, and no one liked me or even tried to get to know me to like me. I was different from other kids. My family was poor, I was not a “pretty little girl” like other little girls, and my home life was not good – which I believe affected my social ability to make friends.
I walked to and from school (it was about ¾ of a mile from my home) every day, and I never really looked up. I kept my head down and focused on the cracks in the sidewalk in hopes that my schoolmates would not notice it was me. Without any teachers around, kids were even more cruel to me than they were on the playground. On the playground, we had those tires that started small and progressively got bigger and bigger. The biggest one was so large I could hide inside it – which is exactly what I did, every single day.
My home life during all of my elementary years was very unhealthy and toxic. Without going into too much detail, I hated going home. So, there I was, this 6, 7 and 8-year-old little girl who hated going to school because of the way I was treated – and hated going home because of the way I was treated.
My mom, sister and I moved when I was in 4th grade to a new state. I felt so confident with this new beginning and this new opportunity to make friends and live a new life. We had moved so far away from what terrified me so much, I was happy. For two years, life was really great for me.
Then, in 7th grade, I got a haircut (I wanted to look just like Demi Moore in “Ghost” haha!). Instantly I was the joke of the school all over again. Kids called me horrible names. I only had a couple of friends that actually remained my friend through 7th and 8th grade. Everyone teased me and called me Sinead O’Conner. I went home every day crying and wishing I didn’t live.
We moved to a new school district when I was in 9th grade, where I was once again able to recreate my identity and restore confidence. High school was much easier and I was popular because I made a point to be friends with everyone – everyone. I had friends in every social class. From geeks and hippies to jocks and cheerleaders (I actually was a cheerleader) to the students with autism and Down’s syndrome. I vowed to never make fun of anyone for any reason.
I was fortunate to have been blessed with a positive attitude. Circumstances led me to have to live in my car when I was 17 years old, but I worked full time at a newspaper while also in school. That’s when I coined a motto. “Never let the past or present define your future.”
Now, 20 years later, I own an award winning, successful digital marketing and design agency. But I am determined to make sure NO CHILD is ever bullied. I wonder sometimes how much more I could have done in life if only I’d been loved, accepted and treated fairly during my formative years.
This is why I believe in Playworks. When I was presented with the chance to serve on the board for this awesome organization, I jumped. I saw Playworks in action for the first time at an elementary school in Detroit, and it brought tears to my eyes as memories of my own childhood flooded within me.
Playworks matters. It changes the lives of children everywhere. Believe me, many of our children today are just like me. They need to have one place they feel safe and loved and accepted – and if nowhere else, let’s make sure they can love to go to school.
October is anti-bullying awareness month and Playworks has launched its REAL PLAYERS DONT BULLY campaign. Athletes everywhere are joining this initiative, and I am personally asking you to help. Here are ways you can:
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