Man shares apology message his former bully sent him eight years later
It's 2019, and we're all wandering around collectively chanting "new year, new me". But how many of us actually mean it?
One former bully in Canada seems to be determined to make a change, kicking off the new year by messaging his playground victim to apologise.
Mina Gerges, 24, recently went viral on Twitter after sharing a message from a man who harassed him in school.
Mina was born in Egypt and grew up in Abu Dhabi, so felt different from his peers when he moved to Canada with his family when he was 12 years old.
When he started school, he was bullied for his accent, his weight, his "high" voice and his interest in art and drama. To make things even harder, the young boy was quietly trying to come to terms with the fact that he was gay, something that the Middle East's anti-gay attitudes made incredibly difficult.
"It felt really lonely at times not having anyone to talk to about this, so getting bullied for being feminine and being called 'a f****t' didn’t make it any easier," he told the Metro.co.uk. "Some of the things this group of guys would do were make fun of my feminine actions, use anti-gay slurs at me, openly gossip about my sexuality, and mimic my voice when answering questions in class."
Eight years after he finished school, Mina has left the bullies behind him and is a proud body positive and LGBT advocate - but this doesn't mean he wasn't shocked when he received an out-of-the-blue message from a former tormentor on Facebook.
The unexpected message read: "Hey man. I just want to apologise for any fucked up things I said to you or about you in high school. It weighs on me. I hope all is well. Cheers."
Sharing it online, Mina collected almost 5,000 likes and near to 400 retweets from people who were left touched by the unforeseen action.
And they weren't the only ones who were wowed - the 24-year-old himself described opening the message as an "amazing moment" that showed maturity.
He told the Metro.co.uk: "To be honest, as shocked as I was to get this message, I also felt so happy to see that someone whose words and actions toward me were so cruel had grown up and learned to be empathetic and compassionate.
"I recognised how hard it is for him to own up to the mean things he’d done and said, and it made me see that people do eventually learn to be kinder and learn that their actions and words hurt people and they eventually mature and own up to their mistakes and apologise. It was an amazing moment for me."
He continued to reveal that he and his former tormentor had gone on to have a heartwarming conversation.
"He told me that it'd been weighing on his conscience for a while," Mina explained. "And that he'd wished he'd apologised sooner and that even though he can't undo his actions or their impact on me, that he hopes that owning up to his actions and this apology and will help me heal. He also said he was thankful that I accepted his apology after all these years, and that he's always open to chat more if I'd like to."
It just goes to show, it's never too late to apologise.