I was a very shy and quiet child. I have a twin sister who is far more bold and outgoing than me, so I didn’t have trouble making friends in elementary school when we still shared everything. I would get teased here and there because I used to cry a lot (I still do if we’re being honest) and older kids would be mean to my sister and I when we walked home from school, but that didn’t have a big effect on me.
Things changed a bit in middle school. I had always known that my friends preferred my sister, but around this time all of our friends started to drift away from me and towards her. I don’t blame them for this; people do drift apart around this age and I actually got closer to one of them in high school. In sixth grade, my best friend was in a ton of my classes, so things were still pretty great. In seventh grade, our schedules changed and I didn’t see her very often. I believe this is also around the time I started getting acne, but that may have been sooner. I’m certain of one thing: this is when the bullying started.
I don’t remember exactly when the bullying started, but seventh grade has always been stuck in my mind as the Worst Year of My Life™. I didn’t have any friends at this time, but my sister did, so it hurt staying home when she was going to hang out with people I used to consider my friends. This would have sucked by itself, but a group of boys decided to start bullying me and wouldn’t stop for years. I’m not really sure why they chose me or if I was the only one, but I hope they didn’t put anyone else through that.
I won’t get into everything that happened, but I’ll give you the gist of it. They would call me names and throw little pieces of paper at me that would get stuck in my curls. They would also say that one of the other boys in the group liked me or wanted to go out with me and then they’d all laugh. No one ever said anything or made an attempt to stop them. When we dissected pigs in eighth grade, they kept throwing a piece of the pig at me, but luckily, they had terrible aim. When I told the teacher, he did nothing.
The way they treated me made me feel horrible about myself. People laughing at the mere idea of anyone being interested in you really makes your self-esteem plummet. As I said before, I was already going through a hard time not having friends and this made things so much worse. While my sister was out with friends, I would lay on the couch and cry.
I started to spend a lot of time online, which definitely helped. I made friends on Tumblr and talked to them all the time, so I had an escape. My sister talked to the boys who were bullying me during our sophomore year and they mostly stopped, but would still treat me poorly from time to time. Around this time, a girl in the year below me started to be cruel to me as well. I don’t remember what she said, but I do remember the laughing.
Even after the bullying stopped, I struggled for a long time. One of the best things I did for myself was realizing that I have worth. Once you decide that you are a strong and beautiful person, life gets so much better. I also found things that let me escape from reality. Tumblr, video games and reading a ton of YA books helped me be a lot happier. About halfway through high school, I made friends who were more like me. By the time I was a senior, I was doing pretty well, but I still couldn’t wait to be out of that school.
Over the course of my time in college, I’ve found out that I am not alone. So many other girls were treated horribly in school. It’s comforting to find people who have been through similar things, but none of us should have gone through that.
Some people say that it’s best to forgive and forget, and if that helps you heal then you should do it. I don’t think I could ever forgive people who show no remorse for making years of my life miserable. I don’t actively resent the people who bullied me; I just don’t think about them very often.
Don’t obsess over what the people who treated you like garbage in high school are doing now. If you happen to hear about them or see something on social media, fine, but don’t waste your time worrying about them. Rest easy knowing that anyone who would be so awful to another person is not going to do well. Instead, put your energy into finding things that make you happy and working hard to be successful. The best way to get over bullying is to live your best life.