I was bullied at high school. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but I remember every moment. Bullying has this lasting impact. I went to an all-girls catholic school. It lived up to every social expectation you would have of such a school. There were the skinny popular girls, the rich boarding students, the poor boarding students, the science geeks, the netballers, the swimmers who also played netball, the drama crew, the quirky group who sat outside room 9. That was us. The quirky group. In my first year of high school, I knew very few people, and the girls I did try to sit with at lunch did not want any part of me. I was told one Tuesday lunchtime that Tuesdays were “Lexie free days”. They were establishing themselves as the popular group, and I was a chubby, extremely naive girl who definitely did not fit their mould. I remember walking away, trying to hold back tears. So much so, my throat was aching. But I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. How embarrassing. It was in this moment of utter shame, that I found my people. A group of girls just as quirky and just as weird. And we spent 5 years, navigating school, hormones, boys, break ups and teenage life. But bullying doesnt stop just because you have friends. I remember one day in year 10, a girl started a rumor I was gay. Insert Jerry Seinfeld’s “not that there’s anything wrong with that!”. But at an all-girls catholic school in the early 2000’s, it’s a rumor that brings with it allot of side glances, whispering and giggling behind your back. Cruel right? I shouldn’t have had to set any record straight, but the constant undermining from some students became impossible to deal with. I remember being dropped off at school, and feeling a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t want to walk through those gates, and see people pointing and snickering. It completely destroyed my confidence. I was known as the funny fat one. In order to be funny, I had to hide my lack of confidence behind jokes and humor. Something I know we’ve all done at least once in our lives.
High school is a harsh awakening for all kids. I’m thankful I grew up in a time with no social media in school. I think that gives bullying a whole new platform.
But if I can give any advice to the quirky, funny, weird kids out there; your weirdness now will make you stand out in the crowd later on in life. 15 years after high school, I have the most beautiful friends, a hot husband, I have an amazing career, a gorgeous son and an incredible life. It’s a life enviable to so many that once were the perpetrators of that bullying.
So don’t conform. Don’t follow into standards set by others. Don’t change to fit in. Your uniqueness will grow into something beautiful, and make you a star in an otherwise night sky. One day in the future, you too will have beautiful friends and relationships. You’ll have strong direction. You will have respect and love. One day, you will be living your best life. High school is brief, don’t let it define you.