Growing up in a small semi-rural town, I was an easy target for people to pick on. My outspokenness automatically made me different from my classmates. Added in was my love for Tori Amos, long skirts and liberal politics.
To understand the extent of how much I was bullied, I’ll share one example. In 8th grade during computer class, I sat in a Popular Blonde Girl’s seat to be near a friend. We didn’t have assigned seats, which is why I sat there. The Popular Blonde Girl freaked out, looked me in the eye and said, “If I was you, I’d kill myself.”
For obvious reasons, I try not to think of these moments because they make me upset. Not because I feel bad for myself, but because anyone would be upset by the things that were said to me. Pre-teen and teenage years are awkward. Everyone’s fighting to figure out who they are and where they fit in. Inevitably people end up acting in ways they often regret.
During my junior year, I found out that the parents of one of my male tormentors from middle school were divorcing. Many years later after my senior year of college, I saw this male tormentor at a bar and he immediately approached me saying, “Courtney, I don’t know if a bar is the best place to do this, but I just want to tell you that in high school I was a different person. I truly sorry for the way I treated you in high school.”
Context changes everything, which presents the hardest part of moving on from being bullied: Tormentors go through their own struggles and eventually change sometimes for the better. Perhaps this is the shining beacon of hope after years of thinking about why and how people treated me so poorly.
My conclusion falls in the “What doesn’t kill me makes me way cooler” camp. Whenever someone says something negative about me now, I often joke, “You think that’s original? People have said much worse.” The cruelty of children will prepare you for a lifetime of mediocre insults from adults.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions by commenting.