We all see the messages on the news. The kids who get treated badly, who never have a good friend, who never make it. And then the people on top. The celebrities, wasting away, trying to hold on to things that are material, and never last. Paper, beauty, parties. But it’s the underdogs who get it the worst.
So, for those here who think they belong in the “outcast” or “bullied” category, here’s for you. This isn’t a chain mail, or a spam. This isn’t some made-up story or fairy tale. This is my story. It’s real.
I’ve been bullied since Kindergarten. First year of school, from the very first day. Why? Because I was smart. I didn’t like Barbie, or Barnie, or Bambi. I liked other things. I could draw. I was left-handed. I had glasses. I was different. I was smarter than everyone else. Gifted And Talented material, said the teacher. But to the students, that didn’t matter. I was different, so I was inferior. I was bullied from Day 1.
5th grade, I lost the only friend I had. She backstabbed me, spread rumors, all the dirty stuff. I kept her as a friend because she was all I had. But after an argument about her lies, she left. The next week, I got in a fight with another girl I had never met in art class. Twenty minutes later, we were best friends. She put me down, said she was better than me, but I put up with it. She put up with me being around her, and company was all I asked for.
Seventh grade, I got braces. The bullying got worse. My brothers started in on it. The high school kids all knew me as “the sister of the cool guy who’s a freak.” Real nice, huh? His friends got a kick out of watching him make fun of me. And the parents never believed me.
Eighth grade, I moved. Got my braces off…only to find out, five months later, I needed them again. I never wore my glasses. I forced myself to see without them. I practiced my art, and became a professional painter. I sold my paintings for hundreds. Businesses put them up in their offices, bragged about me. Teachers were astounded at my brilliant mind. So why did I fail my classes? Bullying. And it was from the popular girls in school. No boys ever liked me. None.
Ninth grade, I’m in high school. And honestly, I hated it. All the kids were the same. Supermodel looks, skinny as rods, the guys all immature and doing stupid things for the ladies. All the same story. But the fact that I never joined in, that I stuck up for myself and the “little guys” and made myself a loner, made me the victim. I was getting tired of it. The bullying, the teasing, how no one ever saw past the plain face to see the pain. I thought it would never end.
I made one friend. And from her, more. Sad thing is, all of my friends at this point were online. They were the only ones who seemed to understand. Thanks to them, I was able to make it through that year in one piece.
The summer before tenth grade, I got my braces removed. Tried out for American Idol…and made it. I told my friends, and the kids at school. They cheered me on. But then I lost my first real friend. She left everyone. I was stuck with just one online friend. Into the second semester of tenth grade, I was never bullied. I was cool, I was awesome. Everyone knew me, even the people I had never seen in my life. But that one friend, that one guy who stayed there with me through all of it…lost it. He left, and as far as I can tell, now hates me, so much that my very presence makes him angry with hatred. I have almost no friends at this point. Just the ones at school…and they don’t know a thing about me.
This summer, right now. I have more friends than I thought was ever possible, more than I was allowed to invite to my birthday party. And you know what? I used to be that bullied victim. I used to be the outcast, the weirdo, the one nobody likes. But now I have more friends, tighter relationships that will never break, more meaningful things than just money and good looks. And to be honest…the popular kids at my school no longer exist. Everyone’s popular now. Why? Because everyone is unique.
I’m not lucky, or special, or gifted. I’m Me. I’m another person, a kid who was stuck at the bottom. And I made it, all on my own.
So, to those stuck in a rut, even if you’re not bullied. If you’re just in a bad place…don’t give up. It’s worth going through, trust me. I’ve been through hurricanes and tornadoes, both literally and emotionally, and I’ll be the first to say…it’s worth it. It’s worth every waking moment, just to make it to the other side and say “I made it.” Those three words will mean so much. So keep going. Face that fear, walk down that hallway. Because in two years, five years, ten years, you’ll have it all. And they won’t know their life is empty. They’ll be stuck in their own little world. Compared to you, they will have nothing. And you will win.
Don’t give up, guys. Don’t. Ever. Give. Up.