Remember high school, or maybe it was middle school. Maybe you remember the parties or the fun you had. The silly antics you got into and maybe your first car.
For many of us, sure, there are many of those things, but also the scars left by years upon years of incessant bullying.
In fourth grade, it was Heather. She made fun of me daily for not wearing Guess jeans and basically the wrong everything else.
In fifth grade, it was nearly everyone on my bus. I finally slapped a girl when she kept untying my shoes. Yeah, I was the only one who got in trouble.
In sixth grade, it was a girl named Crystal. She would lie to teachers about me calling her names or stealing her things. I had many lunch detentions over that year because the teacher always believed her. She could apparently cry on cue.
In eighth, it was a girl who was new to the school. I tried to befriend her since I was new in fourth grade and knew how hard it was. She made fun of me because I didn’t smoke pot and didn’t even know what it looked like. She would try to get me in trouble. She ended up turning all of my friends against me. She would prank call my house. She even had my old best friend’s dad drive her by my house so she could see where I lived. She was pleased once she found out her parents’ house was bigger than mine.
In tenth, it was a guy would would pull me down the stairs of the math building by my huge L.L. Bean pack. Eventually, after years of being bullied, I learned this would not stop unless I stopped it. I punched him as hard as I could. (He didn’t nark on me and soon he confessed that he was jealous of how easy trig was for me. I helped him in math and he was so proud of that first A. I was proud of him too!)
In twelfth, I was then picked on by my own ‘kind’ for the first time. One of the guys in the running for valedictorian told me I did not belong with [the other top 10 students] as I was not really smart. He also told me my school choice (UM-St. Louis) was embarrassing.
In sixth grade I stopped being honest about anything about myself. When kids asked about me, unless they were my close friends, I lied to them. This way, they made fun of the lies and not the true me. That was private and my own. Is this the only way to survive high school?
There were various kids throughout school who picked on me, and for as far as I’m concerned, I got picked on because I breathed air. I was quiet, shy, and only interested in getting through school to get to college (which was friggin’ awesome! I was very well liked in college – even as a total outlier at age 15.)
I did start to be more outgoing my junior year of high school. I embraced myself, my awkwardness, and my overall intelligence. I began to openly show my quick-whitted, compassionate self. I figured out that these people who choose to pick on me mean nothing to me and I’ll never see them again after high school. I felt sad for them.
Some people over the years had contacted me. I’m not sure if it was a check back or they actually felt guilt over their behavior. Some people do not even recall what they’ve done or said. In a conversation on Facebook I happened upon about bullying, one person who would say snarky things about me said she simply cannot remember any of what she said to anybody. I hated finding myself in the same hallway as her. She felt it was an eat or be eaten society. If it is, then why do we make school so Lord of the Flies? It doesn’t have to be.
Recently school year started for kids all over the States. Several of my friends said already just days into the new school year their kids were on the receiving end of torment. Schools say they have gotten better with bullying. The schools still don’t do anything. It is sort of like sexual assault on campus recently: if we don’t acknowedge it, then it doesn’t exist, right?…Right?
Kari’s bully from last year moved states away, but that doesn’t make her immune to gaining another tormenter over the coming years. Kari is well liked, compassionate, and smart girls are more accepted now. Maybe she’ll get lucky.
So after all of this experience with bullying, here’s my response from the Facebook post:
We all get better with age.
Forgiveness is the ultimate payback. Proving you’re bigger than the situation, but it’s so hard when you’re in the situation.
I think we all had people say mean stuff in high school. I was a nobody in high school, or totally felt like one, but after high school I learned to own my nerdiness and how small of a time middle and high school is compared to our whole lives.
It’s tough seeing my own kiddo and other kids I know go through bullying. Hindsight can teach us so much. I guess we can all teach our kids how unkind words can stick with people for a long, long time and how they’re not right, but usually are because the person is feeling insecure.