Becoming Your Own Superhero This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Being a “military brat”, I’ve had the opportunity to witness humanity on an international scale. Due to this, I’ve seen worldwide love, hate, friendship, sorrow. One thing that translates into any language and culture is, inevitably, bullying. It’s the human response to insecurity and lack of control, a magician’s trick to divert attention from one’s flaws by showcasing another’s. Bullying and I go way back.
For ten months in a small Alabama town, I was judged by the middle school populace. The jury found me guilty of every charge. Since I’m oddly pale, the local bullies called me a vampire. I wore black twice, I must be emo. I held hands with my friend for two seconds, I’m a lesbian. The list grew. When I wasn’t being teased, I was either invisible or a ghost—you saw me, I existed, but I wasn’t alive unless I was with friends. I let myself be a cliché.
When it all started, I tried not to react, to turn the other cheek. The kids kept pouring pack after pack of Mentos in the litre of Coke, wanting me to give them a show. I tried being passive-aggressive next, using dirty looks as ammunition when they tried to prod me into their verbal abuse. I tried being aggressive, angrily telling them not to touch me when they pulled on my shoulders out at the soccer field. The bullying became more of a personal game. I was the one who wouldn’t cry for them.
I fought them in my thoughts, wondering why they were being so cruel and immature when I hadn’t said a word to provoke them. Heck, even after it became apparent we weren’t going to sit around braiding each other’s hair and getting matching tattoos, I was willing to draw up a treaty and start at square one. Still, it persisted. After one of them gave me an absentminded compliment one day, I realized they weren’t even targeting me specifically, at least not all the time. I wasn’t worth a personal vendetta, I was simply one of the stock they had no problem messing with to get a laugh out of their friends. I was a means to the end to prove they were bold. They wanted to be the type of girls other girls looked at each in awe and said “Did she really say that?”
Before those ten months, I was an incredibly outgoing girl whose element was to be out of everyone else’s element. After those ten months, I felt like in place of myself doing the deed, that younger, brighter girl committed suicide. Now I know what was necessary back then for me to become my own hero. I needed to be real with those girls, strip away the emotional fuel I gave them, and tell them all those thoughts I was thinking, how their actions made me lose respect for them. I needed to own up to who I was and walk away with superpowers.





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