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The Change

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Coming here, to my new school, was a huge change for me. All my life, I had attended a small Catholic school in a class of 54, give or take the odd few people who came or left. When I was applying for high schools, all my friends picked theirs by who else was going to school there, or where their older siblings had gone, or even the commute. I, however, chose a different way. The reason I decided to attend this public school was twofold: first, it was a school known for its rigorous academic curriculum. Second, none of my other friends were coming here. And I wanted that.
At my old, small school, I was bullied. Not in the sense that people pushed me up against lockers and demanded my lunch money (we had neither lockers nor the ability to buy lunch at school), but in the sense that I was ignored. I know someone who has actually been through outright bullying and verbal abuse would laugh at my definition of bullying, but it still hurt me. I had my group of five friends, and we all stuck together, but outside of that, I was ignored. Chronically. Since 4th grade. I’m not sure what the exact dividing line was between the “popular girls” and me. Maybe it was the fact that they all dated. Or that they rolled their uniform skirts up so you could see their shorts underneath (is that a thing?). Or that their hair was always straightened. Or that they didn’t like to read. Or that they liked to spread rumors, especially false ones, about anyone and everyone. Or that they always wore make-up, even though it was against the rules. And I didn’t. At all. And for that, they ignored me. There was a clear dividing line between the preppy people and me (again, I’m not sure what it was, only that it was there), and you didn’t cross it. Ever. When I was assigned to work with a member of the other side, I would do all the work. I tried to split up the work and only to my half a few times, but only ended up failing a couple projects. So, in the end, I accepted it and went on with my life.

It still hurt though. I would be sitting in a certain class, one that none of my friends were in, and I would have to sit next to one of the “popular girls.” It would hurt when she would ignore me throughout the entire class. When she would look right through me to the person on my other side. When she would talk to everyone around her except me. A few times, she would talk about me like I wasn’t even there. Did she mean to be so rude? What had I ever done to her? I never talked to her (at least, she would never respond). Did she actually not see me? How do you ignore someone so completely, or consider her so beneath you that you gossip about her, not even behind her back, but right in front? And this was not just one person. There were about forty-five people who had done this to me for five years.
This treatment wasn’t limited to just me. No, I wasn’t special in any way, shape, or form. My friends all received the same behavior, from all the same people. We learned to deal with it. To wait it out, shrug it off, and move on.

It still it hurt, though. To be completely ignored. These people weren’t my friends. I didn’t want their affection, admiration, or respect. I just wanted them to talk to me. They didn’t even have to start the conversation, just respond. There were so many times that I just felt like getting up and telling at them all, to tell them how ignorant they were, how rude, how stupid, how detrimental. But I didn’t. Because I was so insecure. All this ignoring and looking right through me had convinced me that there was something wrong with me. The effect that these people, who I didn’t even like, had on me was astounding. I was unsure in everything that I did. I convinced myself that even my friends felt like this, that the only reason they hung out with me was because they felt sorry for me, but didn’t actually like me at all.

So you can see why I wanted so start high school with a new page. I was done with being ignored. I was done with doubting if my friends actually liked me or not. I was done with the boring “busy work” we constantly did in all our classes. I was done with the little things, too. The five and six year olds running around all the time. The uniforms. The broken air conditioning. The church every Friday and feast day. The dirty, small school. I hated it. It was suffocating. I needed to leave, and start over as something completely new, without anyone, not even my friends, who could pull me down again, like they did before.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends. They are all so funny, crazy, and amazing. But…I had been in school with them for the past nine years of my life, and some I had known even longer. I felt that the best way to approach high school was with a new identity. And the way to do that was without my friends. They loved me, but they also held me back. They had a certain vision of who I was, and to them, that was the only version of myself I could possibly be. There were certain things that were allowed. Liking Taylor Swift was out. So was dressing crazy because I felt like it. You don’t like One Direction or Twilight? What is wrong with you? Why are you so depressed? Haha, but you can’t be actually depressed. That’s weird. Omg, that’s so gay. Why does she act like such a s***? They didn’t try to be mean, like the other girls did, it was just a byproduct of what they considered to be…normal. They weren’t as accepting as I was looking for. And so, I couldn’t be in school with them. They would just hold me back; pull me down, because I wasn’t as readily conformed as they were.

And so I arrived at my new high school on the first day, excited, eager, but…not overly optimistic, either. The only thing I had ever known was cliques, and I was not expecting the majority of these people to be any different. But I was surprised. I’m not going to walk you through my first day of high school, because, honestly, I can’t remember. But I do know that the friends I have made since then have made my life so much better.



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CarolineZW said...
Oct. 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm
Nice. I could actually feel the suffocation through your constant repetition. I really enjoyed this piece and how you defined bullying. Btw, I hope I'm not one of those people that drag you down.
 
Isabella N. said...
Oct. 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm
I love you Ann! I went through something similar at my old school, and it hurts more than people think it does.
 
annweisgerber replied...
Oct. 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm
Hey! Thanks :* yeah, the sad part is, its completely true :'( but yeah, in movies it's all like, jocks pushing the nerds up against lockers and taking their lunch money, and adults dont realize its not really like like that. luckily, it hasnt happened so much at rm :)
 
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