When I was younger, I moved a lot. From place to place and from school to school, so I didn’t really ever “make friends” with anyone, because I figured I would just leave again. So, after my grade three year when we moved again to a whole new area, I was that quiet kid in the back row who didn’t talk to anyone. And when I was spoken to, I became flustered and couldn’t meet anyone’s eyes. My grade-four classmates called me weird, but eventually chose to ignore me.
However, two girls approached me, and started and laughing and joking with me—as if I was actually talking back. They started asking me questions, simple ones like “I heard you moved a lot, what’s that like?” or “Why don’t you talk to anyone except the teachers?”
Being the way I was, I had no idea how to deal with them suddenly being so friendly—I didn’t want them to be. I didn’t want to make friends with anyone, because I figured I’d just leave again. When I answered it was blunt and harsh—but I used bigger words than they could, and had to explain myself. I’d grown up with books, so my vocabulary grew faster than most kids my age. They just grinned and said “You’re smart, too! Wow! You should talk more!”
At lunch hour the next day, I found they were with me. I still didn’t speak much to them, or make eye contact, or play with them much. But every day they stayed with me. Day after day. I couldn’t fathom why, I was cold and unfriendly.
But then I also caught the attention of another girl in class. A bigger girl, obviously she’d failed a grade or two, and the torment began. I didn’t tell anyone that she was bullying me, and it went on the entire grade four year. I went through being absolutely frightened about being out of a teacher’s line of sight at lunch, and always made the two girls who stayed with me stick to the open non-hidden areas. She’d trip me in the classroom, or the halls. She’d steal and hide my “outdoor” shoes from the hall. At one point, as I was walking back into the classroom from going to the washroom, she threw a pencil at me as hard as she could, and it hit me in the eye, sharp end first, and I was lucky it didn’t do serious damage. The substitute was angry, but she just insisted it had been an accident and apologized to me. I couldn’t open my eye until the next day, but I still never told anyone about how she treated me.
This made me even more reclusive, and even my two ‘friends’ couldn’t get me to even walk with them anymore. I’d just sit around and stay silent all day. I hated it. I hated the school. I hated her. And I hated that no one could see what was happening.
Eventually, I snapped. I noticed her lingering around the edge of the field, watching me, and I walked over to her, my fists clenched. I remember I stopped in front of her, and glared. She laughed and asked if I thought I was being scary. I remember my reply perfectly.
“No, I don’t think that. Do you think you’re scary? Just because you’re bigger than me? I’m tired of being scared of you, and I won’t be anymore.” I remember her staring at me, but I wasn’t sure whether it was anger on her face, or surprise. “Why? Because you aren’t anything! You’re just some girl in a class she should have passed a year ago, maybe two. You’re nothing! You’re nothing, and you will never be anything in life! So there’s no reason for me to be afraid of you! Just leave me alone, you stupid, worthless, idiot!”
She stopped bullying me after that. I wondered if it was because I suddenly seemed to have a voice that could tell her off. I’d heard that bullies thrive off of your fear, and I just decided to not be afraid anymore.
Eventually, I opened up more and more with my two friends, laughing with them and running around. They’d both seen my confrontation with the bully, and seemed even more affectionate after it.
It took them almost a full year after that confrontation to really get me out of my shell, and even then I was still quiet and withdrawn.
And then our group was destroyed.
After grade five, when we went on to middle school, one of my friends failed, and the other left me for other, more active friends. They were all I had, and I eventually faded back into my quiet self.
And unluckily for me, my grade four torturer had managed to pass grade five—and managed to get into my grade six class. She noticed I was back to the way I was before, and the torture started again.
Again, being tripped and frightened at lunch—no friends now, to help me hide. When we’d pass our tests back towards the teachers desk—she’d find a new way to get rid of mine from the pile. She’d even done the most unoriginal bullying stereotype, and stole my lunch from me. And I hated my life again, I dreaded going to school where no one was my friend, and I had to deal with her.
Then it happened. My accidental run-in with the other quiet child in the class, and surprisingly the funniest person I’d met. Our lockers were close to each other, and eventually we started talking. And I got some of my confidence back, and once again confronted that damned bully.
“What, going to scare me with words again?” She’d said.
“No.” I remember smiling at her, my hair tied up in my usual pony-tail, and my new friend watching from our lockers. “I’m not going to try and intimidate you. There’s no point, is there? Because either way, you think you’re better than me. I came over here to say hello, and that no matter what you do anymore, it won’t bother me. Because people who are below me don’t matter—people who cause trivial things to simply upset people to bring them down to their own, stinking, worthless level in life don’t matter to me. So, I’m sorry, but you can try all you’d like, but you won’t get to me anymore.” I turned away at that point. “So, sorry to inconvenience you, but find a new target.”
My friend clapped me on the shoulder and we laughed as we walked away. She remained my best friend for three years after that. And she brought me entirely out of my shell. I can laugh and talk with people I don’t even know now, thanks to her. And even though we grew apart, I owe her so much for what she did for me.
I guess the point of me saying all this, if you’re even still reading, is that even if you feel alone, like there’s no one there for you—you aren’t. People will grow and change, and life will get better for you if you’re down right now.
I won’t forget these people; I only wish they hadn’t changed so much.
Those two friends in grade four and five? One is now a drug addict, and it pains me to see her. The other will likely be a teen mother, who can’t survive off of support from other people.
That bully? She is a teen mom, and is going nowhere in life.
And that best friend? She’s got depression problems, and a terrible home life, but we still talk, and I’ll always be there for her if she needs me.
And me? I’m the girl in class who’s still quiet, but isn’t afraid to speak up, who has plenty of friends, and is sometimes loud and insane. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me anymore.
My life changed so much, from just a few people, over the course of a few years.
That made me believe that anything is possible.