So this weekend while I was blog surfing, I ran across a handful of posts by mothers who were having a tough time handling the fact that their daughters were being bullied in school. This post is mostly dedicated to those mothers and daughters, because I assure you, while not trying to minimize your pain or plight, it is no where near as bad as you think it is.
1. You are not as unpopular as you think you are
The first, and probably most obvious lesson I learned coming out of high school was that I was nowhere as unpopular as I imagined myself to be. Facebook helped with this in a large way because of the all the requests that came pouring in from people who I thought had no idea who I was – but really, staying in the town I grew up solidified it. Every time I was out at a bar, or out with my friends, someone from high school would come up to me who I imagined never knew who I was – and act like we were best friends. Being 21 in my hometown was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had.
Two weekends ago, my roommate Katina brought over a girl named Sheena. I went to high school with her and to me, she was always one of the popular people who had no clue who I was. I actually hid in my room, trying to avoid seeing her because I was afraid she wouldn’t recognize me and I’d find myself back in that awkward spot of self-loathing I’ve been trying to avoid since high school. Katina brought her into my room though, and just introduced me as Stephanie. Surprise! Sheena did remember me, and we spent pretty much the entire weekend together having fun (and ironically, skipping our high school reunion together…)
So for all those people out there who think you’re invisible you have to remember, that everyone else thinks they are too.
2. For every person who bullies you, there is someone who cares 100 times more
I’m going to go ahead and share two bulling experiences with you. These are not exactly high points in my life, and I try to forget them – but here they are anyway. First, in high school, I slept with a guy who ended up teaming up with my so-called best friend and got a petition together to get me expelled from school. Yeah, that really happened. In fact, to this day it’s still one of the most humiliating experiences of my life, and I cringe when I think about it.
You want to know the good thing that came out of it though? After I had a meeting with the Vice Principal - who in her infinite wisdom had locked me and the guy in question in her office telling us to work it out… (which I wasn’t aware there needed to be anything to work out because I wasn’t aware my ‘best friend’ had basically told the entire school then said I ran my mouth) I decided that I couldn’t face the lunch room. To make matters worse, I was actually in class with the girl in question.
So there I am, crying my eyes out, not wanting to go to lunch with everyone else, and hearing them snicker about me. I’m sitting at my computer and I notice that Bob Fisher (who by all accounts was reasonably popular) and a friend of mine, decided to stay behind and sit with me instead of going to lunch with his friends. It has always stuck out to me as one of the moments in my life where I realize that people really do care.
The second happened my freshman year. A girl I went to school with – for absolutely NO REASON other than she was drunk/high/something and wanted to have fun – decided to paint “whore” on the corner of my street pointing to my house. I was humiliated, and what’s more, this was definitely a situation where I didn’t deserve it. (In fact, I was still a virgin and had only kissed two or three guys my freshman year.) My savior came in the form of two of the most popular guys in school – who took a Saturday morning to tar over the spray paint while I was in bed moping about how unfair and cruel life was. You know, I don’t think I’ve talked to either of them since high school, but I still remember that to this day. It was one of the most kind things anyone has ever done for me.
The point of all of this – and I guess what I have to say to the high schoolers who are getting bullied through various forms of social media and feel like they don’t have a way out – is to remember that this is universal. There isn’t one kid in your school who isn’t bullied in some way – be it from an older sibling, a drunken parent, or other kids in school. It may seem like it will never get better, and it may seem like you will never escape – but you will. Look for the people in your school and life who care about you, and who can support you through these tough times. Find an outlet (mine was obviously writing) and I promise you, when you look back in 10 years, you’ll laugh at the fact that you thought everything was so serious back then.
Footnotes: Bob Fisher and I are still friends to this day. The girl who tried to get my expelled? I ended up getting her boyfriend after he dumped her, and then subsequently dumped him for being an immature jackass. Also, the girl who painted on my street corner? She doesn’t even remember doing it and laughs it off when I see her now.