I need to take a moment to say how much I love you all. Whether you’ve read this blog since September 6th or you just found me today, you have my love and appreciation. Your comments yesterday touched me and gave me a plethora of ideas (that help organize all my other ideas ^_^). Thank you. You guys are awesome!
Today’s story is about my average day in school, after years of bullying and with an understanding that the bullying would likely continue for years. After Wednesday’s post, I wanted to write a story that would help people understand what it’s like to exist in fear of your peers. This isn’t meant for sympathy. Instead, I just want people to see. Put yourself in this young girls shoes. Experience life as she knows it every school day and ask yourself if it would be worth the risk to stand up for her. I hope to motivate people to stand up to bullies and to teach children to stand up.
You wake up to the sound of your mother’s voice telling you to get out of bed. By the third time she calls, you have finally stubble into the bathroom. After going through the usual routines, you sit for breakfast. When everything you need has been securely gathered in your backpack, you walk out the door towards the bus stop.
Some children play on the playground while they wait for the bus, other just stand silently watching as parents drop off more of your peers. The bus pulls up. You file in with the rest.
Used to the typical gossip and mischief that occurs on the bus, you find a seat near the center. Here, you are far enough away from your ‘popular’ peers in the back and the meaner peers who got in enough trouble to be forced to sit in the front. Here in the middle, you seek solitude. Leaning a shoulder against the window, you pull out a book and escape.
You retain just enough notice of the real world to dodge anything that my affront you. A peer may make a snide remark about your choice of activity. They may point, laugh and wonder at the oddity that is an avid book reader. As Belle was shunned from her community for her curiosity and love of novels, so are you.
Every time the bus stops to pick up more of your peers, you stop reading. Leaving the book where it is, your eyes on the page, you pretend to read as you assess the additional passengers. You’d rather none of them sit next to you, although it eventually becomes inevitable. Will they do or say anything to you? Too much has happened in your short life for you to assume they’d be kind. Best case scenario, they simply ignore you. Worst case, they make a point to crash into you so hard you smack your head on the window.
That happened once, and you ignored the pain. Your parents told you the bullies just wanted to get a reaction. They would leave you alone if you ignored them. But the bully kept up with the rough pushing, smacking your head many times. Tears welled up in your eyes, but you refused to let them fall. Eventually, it stopped. The bus moved on. The bully turned away. You let a few tears fall for the pain.
Thankfully, you were simply ignored as usual. At least with a person sitting next to you, there was no longer a need to pause when the bus stopped for more passengers.
The bus arrives at your school. You stand with the rest of your class, keeping an eye out for your only friend. If she is not there, you stand silently, listening to the chatter of everyone else. In this crowd, you stand alone in your thoughts, praying for the bell to ring.
(I am literally shaking as I write this. I guess my body remembers these feelings.)
Your nerves are on high, but then, you are always on high alert. The tense feeling has become a trademark of daily life. The school is a mixture of wonder and horror. You can’t help but be intrigued by you classes. History, math, science, art and the ever beloved Language Arts keep your mind busy. You diligently take it all in, absorbing all the knowledge you can.
Every once in a while, the peace is disturbed when you are forced to work in groups. You and your friend always join for group projects, but the choice isn’t always yours to make. Depending on the peers you are assigned with, you may be left with most of the work or you may be cast aside as useless. Neither is really better than the other. You go along with whatever your peers say to avoid conflict. Conflict has a cost and it’s a cost you aren’t willing to pay in this case.
Class is easy. It’s the parts of the day where your peers have more freedom that worry you. Walking between classes is usually uneventful. There might be someone who laughs or whispers something as you walk by, but you’ve long since gotten used to that. Lunch and recess are a mix of joy and fear. Like the bus, they usually go by without event. The small things are what keep you alert.
You and your friend sit together at lunch. No one sits next to you if they can help it. No one else talks to you. Sometimes you hear comments or snickers, but you ignore it. All they want is a rise, you tell yourself. You often wonder if you are paranoid. Maybe they aren’t talking about you. Too much has happened in your life for you to accept that logic. It’s safer to assume they are talking about you so you can be prepared.
There was the one time where you grabbed a kick ball from the bag to place with after lunch at recess. You and your friend had developed a game with the ball and you wanted to play. While it wasn’t the last ball in the bag, the rest quickly disappeared. On your way out to play, a group of peers confronts you. They want the ball
For once, you decide you will fight this. You have every right to this ball. Without it, you and your friend can’t play your game. This was your plan for recess. Even though you are outnumbered and pinned against a locker, you decide this is a battle worth fighting.
This is based on my average childhood experiences during grade school. It is meant to depict how I thought and felt during an average middle school day. This is who I was after being bullied for many years. This was my struggle to survive. I do not mean to undermine the experiences of others who have been bullied. There are people who had it and who still have it worse than I did. My hope is to build understanding of the emotional turmoil that results from bullying. Through that understanding, I hope more people stand up to bullies and speak out when they see someone bullying another.