Bullying

09:10

When I was in my first few years of secondary school I was pretty badly bullied. Not really physical, but proper, full on psychological stuff. Finding myself left alone aged 11 in a French village on a school trip. People stealing my diary and reading it out to everyone. Stealing my coat so I'd have to get the bus home in February in the cold. Never having a partner for a Science experiment and having to hide in the toilets. Calling me ugly dozens, hundreds of times every single day of my life. Why? To this day I don't really know.Was I particularly different? No. Maybe I was too much the same.


Anyway, by the time I was in Year 10 I was a lot happier at school as I had a small group of friends. We weren't exactly the cool kids - we played cards at lunchtimes - but we had each other and the girls that hated me had backed off a lot. They still regarded me as beneath them, but at least I didn't spend every day of my life that I was at school wanting to disappear, so there you go. 

I went to an all girls' school that was mixed in the sixth form. A boy in Year 12, who was new to the school so knew nothing about me, started coming up and talking to me at breaktimes. It was odd. I didn't understand. Then he added me on MSN, then he would randomly send me messages saying I was pretty, and then when I spoke to him at break he would laugh at everything I said. For weeks I just assumed this must all be some huge joke so tried to ignore it. Then one day he messaged me asking me 'out'. I was so confused. I didn't know what to reply. He then elaborated saying that he thought I was pretty and funny and nice and he would really like me to be his girlfriend. And then suddenly I just thought OH GO ON THEN. I wasn't that bothered about him to be honest, but he seemed keen, so why not?

We had a good week. We hung out every break and lunch. One day he kissed me on the cheek. He planned to meet me at the shopping centre on Saturday. I decided I did like him, after all. He was a nice boyfriend.

On the Friday I came into school and walked past him talking to the girls that hated me in my form room. One of them said to me "WHY have you been telling everyone that (oh, let's call him Billy) is your boyfriend? Why would HE ever go out with YOU?" 

I looked at Billy and then he looked away and suddenly I understood what was happening and the whole floor gave way beneath my feet and I just wanted to be sick. 

What should I have said? Yes, I should have called Billy out in front of everyone. Yes, I should have stuck up for myself. Yes, I should have looked in the mirror that evening knowing that Billy had liked me before he knew that I wasn't cool because I WAS pretty and I WAS funny and I WAS nice. But no, I didn't. I just went and sat down.

To this day I am drawn to people who had similar experiences in their own adolescences. It is not something that has defined me going into adulthood but sometimes when I make a new friend I do subconsciously wonder when they're going to find out that I'm weird and different and not worthy of friendship. I overcame the anxiety bullying left me with a long time ago and I'm pretty confident and self-assured now, but I'm not sure I'll ever get over the self-esteem issues about my appearance because of it. The sad thing is I know so many people that had it so much worse.

I'll tell you what bullying makes you feel like: I've had this post in my drafts for a long time but have only just posted it because somewhere deep inside I feel like if my grown-up friends knew I was bullied and knew how unworthy everyone thought I was over ten years ago they would suddenly be like 'I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU HID THIS FROM ME!!' and drop me straight away just like Billy.

(When I was 16 one day I decided I didn't care anymore and made the most of everything I had and had loads of friends and people commented on my MySpace profile pictures every day and I had so much fun every weekend and people were always saying I was the funniest person they knew and that's when I became me.)
(Billy's  now married with two kids. Blimey)

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