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Hoda Kotb recalls traumatic childhood bullying experience: 'I was so scared'

The Today with Hoda & Jenna star was bullied in middle school

Hoda Kotb on Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Jenni McKnight
US Lifestyle Editor
20 March 2024
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Hoda Kotb has opened up about one of her biggest childhood insecurities – being bullied. 

The 59-year-old recalled the traumatic experiences she went through during middle school and revealed that she didn't even tell her parents she was the target of verbal abuse.

hoda kotb© NBC
Hoda was bullied as a child

"I remember sitting in the front of the bus and listening to people make fun of me and just [wanting] the bus to get to school," Hoda told co-host, Jenna Bush Hager, during Today with Hoda & Jenna on Tuesday. 

"And I remember the feeling of, 'Just end this bus ride and get me to school.' But just so you know, if you have kids or are going through a really tough middle school year, don't worry." 

She continued: "I kind of went along with what other people were doing, which is a mistake. I never brought it up to my parents ever. And maybe to a friend, sort of?

"I just think I was more of a 'Let's push through' kind of thing." 

today with hoda and jenna© Getty Images
Hoda shared her bulling trauma with Jenna Bush Hager

She added: "Cause I think back then, I don't think that kids were so expressive." 

While being subjected to hurtful comments is despicable enough, Hoda was also worried about physical violence as she revealed there was one "girl who always threatened to beat me up". 

"I was so scared of her," she recalled. "And she kept saying, 'If I see you in the bathroom...' And I didn't even know her! 

"I was like, 'Why do you want to beat me up?' I had no idea why. But I know I never mentioned it. I didn't mention it. I just navigated it." 

Hoda Kotb is putting herself back out there on the dating scene© Instagram
Hoda is now a mom of two

Being bullied as a child taught Hoda some valuable lessons about resilience that she maintains today. 

"I learned that usually hope's always apparent, but you have to seek it out," she told People. "It's not coming to you. It's not knocking on your door and going, 'Hi.' 

"You have to go find it. So it's really where you fix your gaze in life." 

She added: "So I think it's important to set your eyes where you want to be, with the people you want to be, focusing on the thing you want to focus on. Because if you're with a bunch of complaining friends, you're going down with them. Okay? You find your lane and ride it." 

TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb on Wednesday, November 29, 2023© Getty Images
Hoda has learned to be resilient

Hoda's revelation comes after she revealed she has jumped back into dating following her split from her fiancé Joel Schiffman in January 2022. 

The mom-of-two has embarked on a new chapter in her love life and already has plans for a third date with a man introduced to her by Jenna. 

"Jenna is a great picker; she really is," Hoda told Entertainment Tonight. "She goes, 'Look, I just want you to know I don't really know him. A friend of mine knows a friend.'" 

Hoda Kotb and Joel Schiffman © Getty Images
Hoda is dating again after her split from Joel Schiffman

Gushing about the second date she and her mystery man enjoyed, Hoda said: "I had a great time. 

"You know what? Life is beautiful! Like, try things, go out, get out of your house and your apartment. I feel like life is meant to be experienced and step out into it."

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