SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Confident. Talented. A survivor of childhood bullying.
"Growing up, I wasn't necessarily the most popular kid. And that kind of bothered me for a lot of years," KSLA StormTracker 12 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Castle said.
"I was a little different in my interests. I liked comic books, I was in the Boy Scouts, I was in the band. Those weren't the sort of things that the so-called 'cool people' were into."
Each month, KSLA News 12 tackles a new subject as part of our commitment to equipping parents and children with the tools they need to help beat bullying in our communities.
This month, we're going beyond bullying.
Castle believes a few years of misery during his teen years influenced the person he's become.
"I cared what other people thought about me, so that was always going through my mind. 'Well, what are other people going to think?'" he said.
"But as an adult, and I think this is all part of growing up, I don't really care anymore what people think of me. What matters is what I think of myself."
Reflecting on his middle school days, Castle recalls wishing he had a superpower.
"During this time frame for me, the superpower I wanted to be able to have is to be able to get into people's heads and let them see what I was feeling by the way they were treating me."
As the bullies made Castle feel self-conscious at school, he credits his parents with helping him build confidence at home. ""My parents also encouraged me and pushed me to be independent, to be true to myself and to find my own way in life.
"I think even though I had the problem with being picked on as a child, those values and those lessons that my parents taught me have helped me overcome that and to be able to accomplish what I have as an adult," Castle continued.
"You think if only I knew what I know now back then, things would be different. And that's, I guess, what I would tell myself. I would tell myself 'Hey, this isn't forever, it will get better as you grow older and mature.'
"Once you get beyond that period in your life, you're going to have opportunity to surround yourself with people who lift you up instead of bring you down."
Now that he's beyond bullying, Castle wants to help inspire others to stand up for themselves and rise above their bullies.
"Ultimately, at the end of the day, you have to be happy with yourself and who you are," he advises. "It doesn't matter what other people think.
"What matters is what you think of yourself. So don't let bullies control you. Don't let bullies demean you. Don't let bullies steer you in the wrong direction," Castle said.
"Be true to yourself and do what makes you happy and go forward from there."