January 29, 2013
By , Vancouver, Canada
Grade 2. That was my hardest year. It all started in Grade 2. Most people have at least until middle school or high school before they have to deal with things like bullying. It all started earlier for me and when it happens to you at such a young age it stays with you, it traps you for longer. I was trapped until I decided that I deserved more. That was in Grade 9.
By grade 2, I had had already been labeled an outcast. Surprisingly, I was one of the only white kids in my elementary school. My blond hair and the fact that I spoke only English set me apart. I was “odd.” What that means I don’t really know but I didn’t think I was all that different.
For the most of Grade 2 I would sit alone at lunch. If I tried to play with my classmates they would laugh at me and tell me to get lost. After an attempt like that, they would focus on me for a while. Talking and sniggering behind my back, yelling things at me in another language, which they knew I couldn’t understand. Kids saying that I had cooties, that I picked my nose, that I was fat, that I was stupid, and that nobody would ever want to be my friend because I was such a loser.
They would write things about me on the wall of the girl’s bathroom. At one point, “Rachel=white trash” was written so many times that even at my age I couldn’t count high enough to count all of them. How does an 8 year old even here a phrase like that? Did they even understand what that meant? It’s so ridicules it’s almost laughable. But it’s not. It’s not because even though I didn’t know what it meant, it still hurt a lot. I think that the worst part though, was when the teachers saw it. They realized it was my Grade who had done most of the writings, so they made all of us, erase all that was written. Even me. They didn’t care what was being done to me. They only cared about their reputation and the damage to school property. My classmates had made me feel ugly and hated. My authority figures had made me feel invisible and unimportant. I still don’t know which hurt me more.
One day, still during my grade 2 year, I was sitting alone at lunch when a gang of 5 girls came up to me. They pulled me up from where I was sitting and started pushing me around. They kept telling me to play a game with them, a spinning game. Then they started to push me around in a circle until I was spinning. They wouldn’t let me stop spinning. They had formed a circle around me. I was confused, I was dizzy, I couldn’t see anything and I wanted to stop spinning but they wouldn’t let me. Finally, one of the girls said she was bored and grabbed my hands behind my back to stop me. She threw me to the ground, releasing my hands at the very last moment but it was too late. We both knew there was no way for me to get my hands out in front to catch myself. My head went pounding into the pavement.
I wasn’t concussed. It was a close call though. A supervisor saw me on the ground and rushed over to me and led all of us to the office. We were sat down and they checked to make sure I was all right. While I sat dazed in a chair, the girl who had pushed me down explained what happened. Apparently, we were playing a harmless game; I tripped and didn’t catch myself in time. I told them it wasn’t true. I told them that she had pushed me. I told them the whole story but it was five against one. They didn’t believe me. They didn’t believe the goose egg on my forehead. In the end, I was punished for lying and they were sent back to class. I was too embarrassed to tell my parents. Part of me, had almost convinced myself that their story was true. At least in that story I had friends.
After that I realized I could only rely on myself. I learned how to fight back and by grade 5 they knew not to mess with me. They didn’t have to be nice to me or acknowledge me but they couldn’t mess with me. But I was still trapped. I finished elementary school there. I went through two years of high school there before I grasped the concept that I deserved more. I moved schools, I made friends and for the first time in my life, I knew that to someone out there, I mattered.

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