Bullying is a topic that is discussed quite a bit. I am no expert on the ramifications of bullying to anyone else but myself. I don’t want to write a post that goes on and on about the psychological effects on other kids. Or the statistics on how often it happens. Or if it ruins these kid’s futures. First of all, I really don’t know about any of those things. When I decided to write this it had nothing to do with any of that. Really, this article is about me. Sorry if that sounds a little self-absorbed, I know it probably does. Honestly, I’ve been going through a lot of personal self-reflection lately and I have been feeling the need to put it all down on “paper”.
This also isn’t a “woe is me” kind of article. Truth is, I went through a lot of bullying when I was a kid. Mostly emotional bullying, but quite a bit of it. It made things really hard at times, but it also contributed greatly to the person that I am today. So, I appreciate you reading and bearing with me as I put my thoughts down about what happened to me as a kid and how it affected me. I strongly believe that we become who we are not because of what we go through but in spite of what we go through. It’s like the phoenix, rising from the ashes. We become more, we become greater. We are the phoenix. Before I start breaking out into song, I’m going to get back on subject.
I think my earliest memory of having a friend was probably in second grade. I really didn’t have any friends. I felt like I looked clumsy, ugly and weird to everyone else. I had the 80’s half bangs but in the late 90’s. I had these huge glasses that I felt like they covered half my face, and I was an asthmatic. I was a serious asthmatic. The office had one of those aerosol chamber inhalers. My brothers would try to keep an eye on me and help me to the office if I had an attack during recess. I had somewhat regular trips to the ER. Anyway, back to school, there was this girl and her cousin who let me hang out with them and I felt like I had friends for the very first time. I knew that this girl wanted desperately to be popular and would agree with any of the popular kids every chance she got. But she hung out with me, and I so wanted a friend. There was a school project we had to do that year where we had groups of kids that would be debating things and the rest of the class would vote on who won the debate. The group I was in got the debate of who discovered North America. Everyone beforehand voted Christopher Colombus. I think in an effort to help me out, my teacher assigned me the Colombus side of the debate. I knew that nobody in the school liked me, and I was worried. My friend assured me that she and her cousin voted for me after the debate so at very least I would have two votes. However, when the verdict was read, I had zero votes. I was devasted, embarrassed, and humiliated. My only friends were embarrassed, and they stopped talking to me.
For a while I hung out with my brother and one of his friends. I was that annoying sister that he allowed to follow him around because he felt sorry for me. I did have another girl who took pity on me and invited me to hand out with her group of friends. She was a nice girl; she was always very sweet to me, but our relationship was more on the side of charity than real friendship. I really didn’t care; I was just so glad that I was in a real friend group. However, none of the other girls were very happy about it. Especially one girl, who was very against me being part of the group. She often called votes and made me sit away from the group while they voted on whether or not I could participate in the game or if I could stay in the group. One time, they actually voted me out and when they told me I remember crying in the corner of the play yard when I saw that the girl who had initially invited to her group of friends, and found out what had happened, marching at the front of all the girls to come find me and tell me I was still part of the group. They never held a vote after that again.
In Jr High, I had a girl that I thought truly accepted me and was the best friend that I ever had. For the first time, I remember hanging out after school and having sleep overs. It was always just me and her, I used to ask why none of her other friends hung out with us and she would tell me that they couldn’t that day. Near the end of Jr High, I started making a couple of other friends. Who eventually took pity on me and told me that my “best friend” had been telling people the whole time, that I was some weird lesbian girl that just followed her around. I didn’t believe it and brought it up to my friend who started yelling at me about anything she felt I had ever done wrong and walked away before I could say a word. She never hung out with me again after that. She went to a different high school so it didn’t turn into anything to awkward.
Even though my school years were full of dumb stories like these, I don’t think that it has anything to do with who I am now. I almost look at that girl as a different person. She worked hard, and put a lot of importance into having acceptance, she wanted to please everyone around her, she often cried if she thought someone didn’t like her (so yes, she cried a lot), she loved her family so much, she always saw the best in people, she was young and awkward but chose to see the good in people. I don’t look down on the girl that went through those things. I do feel sorry for her. But when I think of those events and the person I am now, I really don’t have any personal emotions about it. I think the biggest reason for that is because I found peace and strength in who I am. I’m strong despite my trials, not because of them. That girl didn’t have any self-esteem or confidence, I do! She didn’t feel strong or beautiful, I do! She didn’t think she was capable of greatness; I DO!!! It doesn’t matter what you go through, it matters that you rise up. That you don’t fall, you fly.