This is going to be hard for some people to believe, but in high school I was not that popular. In fact if you asked most people in my graduating class they wouldn’t know who I was and certainly wouldn’t recognize me today.
If I was a character in Mean Girls it would have been Janis. The outcast with one really close friend hoping for a glimpse into the cool life. I would have never admitted that, of course, and acted put out by the entire high school experience.
I hated high school. I cringe at the folks that say they wish they could go back. For me it was torture. I was so awkward and uncomfortable with myself that everyone could pick up on it. And boy did they use my weaknesses against me. I was picked on relentlessly. Being a late bloomer in the breasticle area also didn’t help at all. While all the other girls were wearing their tube tops and flaunting what they got over summer break I showed off my new braces. For the second time.
My first 2 years were filled with days crying to my mom. Begging to go to Abercrombie and Fitch, for plastic surgery and to be transferred to a new school district at least an hour out of town. She denied me all of the above and told me in a few years none of this was going to matter. Being the angsty teenager I was, I ran to my room slamming the door to prove my anger and cried into my pillow because “no one understood me!”
Then next 2 years in school went a little differently. I decided I needed to transform myself. I needed to stop being such an easy target. I was grounded the entire summer and had the time to find the new me. Binge watching SLC Punk and borrowing my neighbor’s Dead Kennedys album I bleached my hair and went green. Unfortunately it turned into more of a baby poop green than the atomic green that was promised. Still, feeling my new self I went shopping for boots and fishnets. I was ready.
My huge transformation turned out to be a bit anti-climatic. No one seemed to really care, but the teasing did subside a bit. I had a new confidence and went from being passive aggressive to being able to stand up for myself and my friends. Once it became known that I would speak up no one really tried to come at me.
Most of the bullying I experienced was through people I knew personally rather than random meanies at school. The mean girls and asshole guys were busy picking on the weakest ones they could find. It was the ones that were close enough to see how it affected me that did it. The ones that knew my weaknesses. Old friends and mutual friends were the kids that made my life miserable.
Social media was just starting and people were so quick to use it as a platform for bullying. I would get messages from “random” people telling me how ugly I was. I even had MySpace pages made about me. One being about how moose like I looked. I believed these pages for years and years even after high school. I hated myself. It took me a long time to finally see that these people were not worth of my time and I needed to love the person I was. It was a long hard lesson, but eventually I moved on and none of it mattered anymore. Just like my mom had said. I fear for Violet and how bullying will affect her. All I can do though is teach her not to be one of the mean girls.