I couldn’t fall asleep last night. As I lay there staring at the celling, I tried to piece together what must be wrong with me. I’m a total loser with no friends. I am not invited to any parties, and the only person who likes to hang out with me during free time is the school nurse. I kept wondering how I was going to force myself to go to school the next day. How was I going to walk in the door? I kept wondering, how I was going to face the pain for another day?
I have been bullied since the first day of kindergarten. I can dissect everything a dirty look has to say within seconds. I have perfected the feeling of being isolated, and I am an Olympic athlete when it comes to eating lunch alone. My room is covered with inspirational quotes: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.” I’m constantly being told that it will all get better. That if I can get though the hard part, if I can hug the monster, one day all of this will be in the distant past, and the kids who torture me now will just be a mere blimp in my oblivion. I have been trying since the first day of kindergarten when the mean girl took a permanent maker to the picture of a flower I spent all day working on to convince myself that the future will be better, but I am tired of coming home crying. I am tired of eating lunch alone in the ink section of the Staples two blocks away from my school. I am tired of being the victim of “catty girls” and “stupid boys.” I am tired of waiting for some future that seems farther and farther away each morning I have to convince myself to go to school. I am tired of playing the friend game. I am tired of being punished for being myself.
When I was in fourth grade, Lindsay* dumped a mixture of Oreos and dirt right onto my head. I didn’t even flinch. Instead I smiled and twirled. My grandmother once told me that if you smiled at someone they couldn’t help but smile back. So that’s what I did. I looked Lindsay right in the eyes and hoped that she would smile back. She didn’t. Instead she laughed. She laughed at the freak that smiled and twirled after cookies and dirt were thrown on her head. When people talk about bullying they never seem to grasp the kind of pain I feel every day walking into school. It’s the kind of pain that’s hollow. The kind that makes you feel like shattering glass. The kind of pain that makes your heart physically hurt. I have lost all my ability to walk though hallways smiling, with my head up high. I forgot how to wave at people I don’t know. When I walk though the halls, I look at my phone. I scroll though Facebook, I text my parents, I watch TED talks. I get to class; I sit down, look at my watch. I tell myself that there are only X amount of hours left in the day and that I’ll be safe soon, curled up in bed with Netflix and tea.
Tomorrow morning I will wake up and play “Shake it Off” really loudly, then I’ll proceed to tell myself all the anecdotes I have spent hours studying of celebrities who survived bullying. Finally, I will drag myself out of bed, force myself to wash my face, put makeup on, wear decent clothes, brush my hair and eat breakfast. I’ll tell myself again and again that it will be okay until I am out the door and biting my nails on the walk to school. I don’t want it to be like this. I want school to be a safe place. I want to be able to walk though hallways with my head held high. I want to be treated like I am somebody worth something, I want to have friends and people waiting for me at lunch, but more than anything, I want to wake up one morning truly happy without a worry of what will happen next. I want to be able to walk out the door ready, and excited for a new day. I want to wake up one morning and not have to reassure myself that everything will be okay. I don’t understand why I am not allowed to have that.