There’s much to think about. A little too much if you ask me. Speaking up has never been easy, it takes courage and it takes a strong heart, you need to be sure of the consequences and the reactions. I’ve always found that quite difficult to do, so when somebody does not I make an allowance understanding their choice. I speak up only hoping that someday someone else might find the courage to do so.
You leave behind certain bits of your past hoping you might never have to relive them. Lately, with so much talk, alumni of my school have been speaking up about their experiences, opening up about the pain and ridicule they felt. I am in awe of them to come forward and boldly face their demons. In my opinion, it should have come a long time back. I only know them from afar and now through their stories.
I’ve written much about my experiences in school on this blog. I remember when a friend of mine and I graduated we were happy to be rid of the school. Graduating felt like freedom from the past. The only reason I am writing this is that I’d be doing a great disservice to my memories if I didn’t. As a girl at my “prestigious” school belongingness was never easy to come by. I was a target for bullies and remained unpopular till graduation.
Life after school was like a chapter from another book, it was so different. All those years of being forced to dislike who I was were turned around in the first moment that I set foot into my college. Before I get into the specifics I want everyone out there to know that it gets better, that things change, you will change and it will not be easy.
I was teased for the most part of my life as a ‘boy in a girl’s clothes’. At school, I was a mere shadow of myself, I was made to feel small, and nobody helped because nobody wanted to join me in my misery. A school is a tough place to exist in. Much of my therapy today has to do with the harassment I faced while I was at school. The bullying got so bad I used to cut myself at home in desperation, my insomnia was related to my bullying too, not many people know, but it drove me to the point of suicide.
I remember girls putting their hands up my skirt to check if I was a girl, I remember being kicked during lunch breaks by boys, sitting by the dustbin alone, the constant sniggering and hatred I faced on the school bus and off it. Teachers were busy wondering why I wasn’t as bright as my sister and only made the bullying worse. In fact, teachers were sometimes my bullies who would yell at me for no reason and pulled me out of my class to ridicule me.
Ninth grade was the worst, I was sexually harassed in class, and it went without any notice, compasses were held to my back and I was threatened to stay silent, powerful boys from powerful families always get away with these things. I can’t bring myself to divulge the details because it hurts to do so, it’s sickening.
I couldn’t speak to my parents about it much less anybody else, only a few of my friends were aware of the fact. It only got better in eleventh grade. Some of my friends have faced worse. I don’t want to get into the mechanics of my experiences, the details are too much for me to disclose.
Bullying and harassment are some of the harshest things for one to go through. We underplay it. Everyone says it makes you stronger, but if that is the way to live, then what is the point? The problem is, we have built a society to give more power to such people, we’ve shielded and protected them. In fact, adults say they’re only children after all. We go to school and fashion our image of the world based on what we see there.
Such experiences mould broken human beings who need to learn to trust again, to believe again, who have to slowly put back their lives and must train themselves to forgive and forget. Sometimes these experiences push us in moments of anger to hurt people in moments of weakness. We’re never the same again.
The fact that I am still wondering what people will think when they read this tells me that I am still afraid of my bullies. It’s not always easy being the bigger person. When I look at the photos in the yearbooks I only see a shadow of a girl, smiling a broken smile. I was told I would amount to nothing by teachers, I was told I was dumb and unworthy turns out I am a lot more than that. School was a nightmare, but like other nightmares, after a while, they cease to matter.