It’s funny how a bunch of words mashed together can inspire someone. Even if it’s only one person, those words can spark something so unique and precious it can change how that person sees or does something.
I was bullied from grade 5 to grade 9. A lot of kids are, some would call it “a right of passage” or a “character development exercise”, I like to call it the worst 4 years of my life. I was always the oddity, the one whose outlook on the world either really annoyed people or freaked them out, I thought fitting in meant letting people walk all over you and standing up for yourself was something only really brave or cool people did, in my opinion I was neither.
Maybe I’m over-exaggerating a little, here I am painting a picture of this gangly abused kid who spent half her time in the foetal position and the other half pretending to be sick so she wouldn’t have to go to school, it wasn’t like that. It was a combination of small and medium events that built up over a period of time. There’s a saying that goes something like this: “tell a girl she’s beautiful and she’ll believe it for a second, tell a girl she’s ugly and she’ll remember it for a lifetime”, I can vouch that that is 100% accurate. I’m pretty sure if you asked me to, I could count off every single negative adjective used to describe me, and at 14…it mattered. Luckily I grew up, I learnt to only value the opinions of those who mattered and to actually stand up for myself.
Last month I was elected prefect. That’s right, the scrawny, awkward- looking lollipop kid who had to deal with being called “Hairy” instead of “Harri”, having her chair glued on a daily basis, being told she was going to “break the camera”, being asked how she fits her bed, being pelted with water balloons that left massive red welts and loosing friends along the way because “OMG you’re such a freak” was elected prefect, PREFECT, a position of leadership that was not thought possible to achieve 3 years ago. The 15-year-old in me cried when I got it, because we had shown those immature, ignobles that it’s possible to get out from under the bottom of the dog-pile.
Our campaign for 2013 is “No Put-downs” (how appropriate) and our pledge states that we aim to “include the excluded, discourage negativity towards others and value the upliftment of individuals”. As an individual, if I had heard that pledge from grade 5-9, I would have fist pumped the air and gone “now I’m valued, now I have a say”. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately I haven’t decide yet, I didn’t have that blessing, instead I was given the gift of giving some weird grade 8 the courage to go out there and say “look at me, yeah I’m a little different, but that’s what makes me stand out from everyone else”. Which I think is much more important.
Here are some wise words from my mother which got me through everyday: “she’s vanilla ice cream, no one picks on her because she’s the favourite, but she’s actually really boring. But you, you are the cherry chocolate swirl flavour, you’re special and unique and only those with an imagination take the time to try you.”
Why would you want to fit in when you were born to stand out?