I want to open up about my experience of being bullied. It began small in middle school, with the feeling that some of the other kids looked down on me. What I said would be ridiculed or ignored. I started to notice how there was a scale of being liked, and I was at the bottom. In the neighbourhood I was sometimes ridiculed for the way I dressed and got beaten up by an older boy. I would fight him back, but he was older and I always lost. It felt unfair and the other kids would look and not help. Going into highschool I learned that talking or fighting back was useless, since I would lose anyway. My christian background also made me feel guilty about fighting or talking back, because you were supposed to ‘turn the other cheek’. So I gave up and became silent, letting all the comments come in after that.
In high school the real bullying started. I was an easy target. Very insecure, naive and funny looking. Growing up in a christian bubble, I had no idea of the ‘real’ world. I had issues with presenting and dressing myself and had no idea who I was. First some older boys picked on me. They would stand around in a group around my locker and not let me get my things. Or when I opened it they would keep kicking it so it closed. They would walk behind me and make funny faces or comments about my appearance. One time they put a dirty cheese sandwich in the hood of my sweater and filmed it. I felt so incredibly ashamed, ugly and small. I would cry a lot and retreated more and more into myself. I don’t think I talked about this with anyone, and for about 2 years I dealt with it alone.
At some point the kids in my own class also started to make fun of me. Not all of them and not as frequently, but it hurt almost more. Some girls would make cruel comments, point and laugh. When I walked on the street, teenagers would laugh at me and shout things. They would shout that I looked weird, that I was ugly or asked in a funny way ‘what I was’.
There was one situation that I remember very clearly. We were in class and talking about beauty and what makes someone beautiful. The teacher made the mistake of asking a boy in the class who he thought was the most beautiful girl. He said my name as a joke and the whole class laughed. I kept it together then, but cried so much about it later.
Another time was when I had to do cleaning with a group of my class. Every class had to do mandatory cleaning for a week in the school year, where you would clean up the cantine and such. I had forgotten about it one day. The next day we were cleaning together when all the other kids dropped their things and said that because I had missed the previous day, I had to clean everything on my own. They went to class and left me behind with a dirty hallway. I burst into tears and the janitor came to talk to me. He said: “Don’t cry, the other kids will make fun of you.” So I hid in the bathroom until I got the courage to go back to class.
There was also another kid who absolutely hate me. Everytime he would see me, he would roll his eyes and look at me with disgust. When he would see me, he would say: “Oh god not HER”.
These experiences in high school made me feel like I was the most disgusting, weird and ugly thing possible. Nothing burns you to your soul as other people your age looking at you with utter disgust. And there were many more incidents that I cannot describe. Things said and not said to me, looks and ways of making me feel small, being left out. The first years of high school I spend with an incredible amount of anxiety. Always looking around to see if it was safe, if I wasn’t being followed. Hiding, avoiding certain places in the school, listening to hear if they were talking about me.
After these first 3 years of high school, it got a little better as I made some friends. But the bullying had left its mark. The last years of high school I often acted out, behaved in a strange way and even made some bad comments about others so I wouldn’t be the lowest one. I had internalized the disgust and hatred, but it became so big and painful that I would sometimes direct that disgust and hatred towards others. I would start to feel the same about them. And I still struggle with this sometimes.
These experiences have marked my life for so long. I have lived a life of isolation and being on my own. I have had such severe social anxiety and depression that for a year after high school I was almost unable to leave the house. I always felt watched and was afraid I was being followed. It has affected me physically, causing slumped shoulders, a crooked back, the inability to stand up straight and a nervous system that is always active and on guard. It is only now, through having a lot of positive experiences, that I am slowly able to let go of it. But I still have massive social anxiety and in groups I freeze. I still unconsciously expect others to make fun of me. In groups of people my age, I am afraid that they together will play a joke on me and leave me behind. But I am getting stronger and standing a little straighter every day. I have left behind religion, discovered my bi-sexuality, traveled and had so many good life experiences. I am ready for new adventures and leaving behind all hatred, disgust, fear and insecurity that is still left in my system.