I spent so many years of my life trying to blend in with the crowd. I wanted to disappear. To become invisible. I was picked on terribly in high school. I moved in ninth grade, which is already a pretty hellish time in a teenager's life. My family was poor and lived on the wrong side of the tracks both literally and figuratively. The four of us and two dogs shared a camper for nearly two years. It was cramped; there was very little privacy.
|Pretty much this was home for two years|
We shopped at the thrift store, not because it was the "cool" thing to do, but because we couldn't afford to shop anywhere else. Every day was a new torture. I was especially tormented for my bucked teeth and my bad skin. One of my bullies' favorite taunts was that I was a "zit-faced vampire" (way before vampires were cool), and they had no problem calling me that behind my back or to my face. So, you kinda understand why I wanted to disappear.
I remember in English class one day the teacher rearranged desks and asked if anyone wanted to sit next to me. While it was probably only a few seconds, as my face burned with shame and tears pricked behind my eyes, it felt like hours. I wanted to die. Then from the back, like an angel from above, a guy spoke up, "I will." He moved his belongings to the front and sat down. As he sat, he whispered, "Cool jacket." I remember thinking that he was making fun of me because the jacket I had that day was my stepfather's dirty leather bomber jacket because I had no jacket of my own, and it was cold.
We all have coping methods.
Life gradually got better. My heart breaks for students I see in pain or being bullied. I've interceded more than once and threaten bullies far more than I probably should. But I just will not tolerate it. I feel sick to my stomach because it takes me straight back to the hell that was ninth grade. I try to tell my students that high school is nothing in the grand scheme of life. That the very people bullying them now will end up being the biggest losers in life. To be the bigger person. To ignore the bullying. That they are beautiful and smart and creative.
I spent so much time trying to hide and disappear and blend in as a teen. I spent years embarrassed of where I lived and how I looked and what I wore. Today I got to spend time feeling beautiful and glamorous and sexy. Today I am glad I can stand out. Today I wear a red coat in a sea of black coats.
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