I Was That Girl

You remember that girl in elementary school who nobody particularly liked, the one who would often spend recess with a good book instead of a good friend?

I was that girl.

You remember that girl in middle school who wore the dorkiest clothes you’d ever seen, the one who got made fun of for not shaving her legs and who didn’t have many friends?

I was that girl.

You remember that girl in high school who was a total nerd, the one who people thought was kind of a freak?

I was that girl.

I grew up being bullied, teased, lied to, laughed at, and humiliated. Some of my most vivid memories are of the torture my peers inflicted…holding votes while the teacher was out of the room to see how many people didn’t like me, teasing me because I wore the wrong shorts to gym, making fun of me behind my back during my chorus solo, pretending to be my friend so I could be made fun of when absent.

In first grade I wanted to die. There were times at night I’d sneak out to the kitchen to get a knife only to put it back because I was afraid killing myself would be painful.

In second grade I fell in love with whales and was devastated to find that not only was my new passion unappreciated, but was a new source of material for those who mocked me.

In fifth grade I felt shamed by my teachers {in addition to the continued harassment from my classmates} for being forgetful.

In sixth grade I was heartbroken to discover that I was no less a “loser,” no higher on the totem pole than I had been at my old school even though most of my new classmates had never even met me.

In ninth grade I found myself paralyzed by fear when assigned seating placed me next to the worst of my tormentors for 3/4 of the school year.

For years I wracked my brain trying to discover what was wrong with me. What did I do to earn their abuse? What was so bad about me that so many people disliked me so much? Why couldn’t I figure out how to make it stop?

For years I kept it secret. I never told my parents. I never told anyone, never sought help because I was ashamed. I was ashamed that I was so un-cool that I warranted that much venom from those around me. I didn’t want to talk about being bullied because I honestly felt it was somehow my fault.

It was only within the last few years that I realized it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with them. But even knowing that the damage is still there. I’m still terrified of what people think. I still wonder which people are making fun of me when I’m not there to hear it. I still fear conflict. I still lack confidence. And I still hurt.


17 Responses to I Was That Girl

  • Sarah says:

    Wow. That was very powerful… and vulnerable. Good for you for writing it!! I am glad that you now know that it had everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. Unfortunately, like you said, the implication remains.

    As we raise our kids, is there any advice to give to us parents? Signs? Probing questions? Anything that would have helped you talk about it?

  • Bonedwarf says:

    They feared your individuality. School breeds conformity and anything outside the herd must be destroyed.

    I speak from experience of being in the exact same position as you were. I was the outcast. I had about two friends. Of course the slightest sign of impending exile for me and they were off like a shot. Some friends.

    Boarding school was even worse. Went there for a year. I was punched. I was mocked. Utterly miserable experience.

    If I could do it all again though, I’d do it the same. It’s made me who I am today, and screw the lot of them. They’re the ones that were in the wrong, not me.

  • Mandy says:

    Wow, take my virtual hug. NO kidding here – you get nothing but support from me.

    I had it okay in school – for the most part, I got along. When I started hs, though, I somehow crossed the meanest girl at school. (I have no idea how, but, whatever.) She came to my house with a dozen of her closest friends asking me to come outside. Imagine the balls? To my freaking house – told my mom she was my friend and asked if I could come outside! Ugh, still makes me sick. Funny ending though, is that my friends mom knew her mom and she ended up getting a parental smack down.

    But I still have issues with it too. Wondering why those moms don’t talk to me. Why those people are whispering. It sucks. But, I’m here with you. I’m working on it.

  • Gwenn S. says:

    Awwwwe hugs! I didn’t have to put up with half of what you did, but I was also teased at school. Kids can be cruel when someone is different. In my case the bright red hair and bazillion freckles beckoned taunts. That and we were dirt poor. Almost all our clothes(me and my brothers)were church hand-me-downs, AND we were Jehovah’s Witnesses (I’m not any more..that’s another story for another day).

    I too, almost always could be found reading a book instead of talking to friends. I still have that problem to this day. I’m like the back-up friend that gets called when all their other friends are too busy :(

    I would have never guessed that you were bullied either..you’re super talented. But that just goes to show, some of the most talented individuals rise from the ashes of injustice. Just look at your web-page!

    Anyway enough of my blabbering ((Hugs!))

  • Annie says:

    I applaud your honest vulnerability! It is so true that children’s cruelty leaves scares. I am still very self conscious in groups of people and have to tell myself that “no, people don’t think you are wierd.” I was that girl too. One time in 6th grade the teacher left the room for 1 minute and the entire class took my binder and used it as a soccer ball. I was mortified. Every time I would get a drink from the fountain people would shout “eww! Don’t use that one! you might get Annie germs!”

    Now I am hoping to learn how I can help my son and daughter when they go through hard times like this. My faith got me through it. When I felt all alone, I turned to Christ and he helped me know that I am loved no matter what. I know you don’t believe, but that is what I am going to teach my children. I hope they have it easier than you and I did though!

  • Holly Neolle, I think just by writing this you bring up an important subject. It doesn’t matter how old you are, 6 or 36, bullying is wrong. And it sucks.

    I was teased growing up as well. Not as severely, but it still had an impact.

    I want to have an impact in my child’s life and show her what it looks like to treat others with kindness, respect and dignity. And I think a large part of that is showing her how God sees her-beautiful, talented, and loved.

    But it’s hard- believe it or not bullying starts in Preschool. Kids learn very early on how to use heir words and actions to hurt others. They learn by watching and testing out behaviors on other children. This can be and should be turned around for the positive. Teaching kids about kindness and friendship.

  • Chanda says:

    I am so saddened by this post. It makes me want to cry picturing you suffering these injustices and feeling so alone. My heart breaks for you. It makes me want to cry, thinking that my child could be the one being bullied.

    What can be done? How can we prevent these kinds of things happening? How do we protect our children?

  • Adam says:

    I was that girl too.
    Except, you know… boy.

    I always told myself that the reason I was a misfit was because I was Mormon. Now I’m not Mormon and I’m still a misfit… I think I still tell myself it’s because I was raised Mormon. Someday I might just have to face up to the fact that I’m a misfit.

  • Let me just say, that I think we’re kindred spirits. I was never understood by anyone at school, and was picked on daily. It’s tough, but I know now that I have a better life. I have a wonderful husband and a happy and healthy little girl. You have the same. And remember, I heart you!

  • It’s not just children that are cruel. It’s people. I know where you are coming from, both as a child and an adult. You always think it’s you and no matter how much you try not to hurt – you do. People hurt people too often. Good for you for talking about it openly and putting yourself out there. My hat is off you to, Holly Neolle!

  • I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wracked my brain, trying to figure out how to make sure that doesn’t happen to my kid and how to know if it is.

    Life is so much richer after school. People accept and respect me. At least I think they do……:)

  • Victoria says:

    Let me just say that I got SAT ON – SAT ON – in middle school. Last picked for gym, etc. etc. I know how this goes, and there are many of us out there, and if we all stand together and raise awareness of acceptance – maybe we can make things better?

  • MiaZagora says:

    Hey, I was sort of That Girl too…but, fortunately, people pretty much ignored and stayed away from me. Anyway, I would imagine I’ve been around at least ten (fifteen…twenty?) years longer than you, so I will tell you it does get better. I’ve even friended people on Facebook that would have never spoken to me in high school.

  • Missy says:

    I was That Girl. It does do damage. But I have learned that a lot of those bullies have junk in their own lives going on that makes them feel insecure and the only way they know how to make themselves feel better, is to pick on someone else.

    I actually have recently found a few of those “bullies” on facebook and they have apologized beyond belief for their actions and behaviors. Truth be told, they were going through their own “bully” situations that no one else knew about.

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