When you look at me, I look like another 17 year old girl. I'm just another girl who blends in with the crowd and fades into the background. You would never know what kind of pain I have gone through, nor would you ever know the strength I possess. Through this newly found strength, I found the secret to a a better life. This secret is easy and it is found inside every single one of you. It is the power to believe and have hope in yourself, the courage to live your life the way you want, and the mindset that nothing is going to keep you from being happy.
Let's rewind to my first day of kindergarten. I met a couple of pretty good people, with whom I thought I would someday befriend. One day a girl, that we shall refer to as "O", decided she didn't like me. O would make up jokes about me and try to pull my pants down. One time she invited me to her birthday party because she knew that I was the only girl in kindergarten who still needed swimmies to swim in the pool. At the time, I didn't know that's why she invited me and I thought she wanted to be friends. When I went to O's party, they all made fun of me until I was in tears. Needless to say, I ended up asking my mom to take me home early.
This wasn't the last instance of being bullied. The following year, my family and I ended up moving away to a new rural town, rather than the tight suburban neighborhood I had grown up in. I was really upset because I had finally found some good friends around my block who I would miss dearly. When we got there, I was enrolled into a public school, quite a big change considering I had previously gone to private school. I thought public school would be the best time of my life, but I was wrong.
On the first day of school, I excitedly stepped onto the bus. A couple of people whispered to each other and said, "New kid." I wasn't used to being called the new kid, and I thought maybe I'd like it. One girl in particular seemed pretty nice so I sat next to her and told her where I was from. She seemed to take a liking to me, and I thought maybe we'd become friends. When I got to the school, it was much smaller than I expected. I entered the gym, joined all the other excited kids my age. I politely introduced myself, though most of them seemed uninterested. The girl I had met on the bus talked to me a tiny bit but didn't really seem too interested in becoming a good friend.
The second day was the worst day I have ever had. The girl who I had thought was nice decided that she didn't like me and ignored me every time I tried to talk to her. I went to class and no one really wanted to talk to me and I wondered why. I asked the girl why she refused to talk to me and she said, "Because I don't like you." Ever since then she would talk about me behind my back, try to get everyone to turn against me, and even pushed me during recess. I would come home, act fine, and tell my mom I had a good day so she wouldn't worry about me. Whenever I got time alone in my room, I sat on my bed and cried for hours until I felt strong enough to face my family downstairs again.
All throughout second grade the girl wouldn't let up. I told her to stop and she would just laugh in my face then say, "Rachel I hate you and I always will." I always asked her why she hated me and she always just said that I was ugly and annoying and I should just die. One day I got on the bus and she asked me to come sit by her. I thought maybe she wanted to apologize but instead she told me, "Rachel, I hate you and I always will. I hate you so much and I will never be your friend."
All I remember was running to my room and wishing I would just die so I could make her happy and not have to deal with her ever again. The next day, I was incredibly nervous, but nevertheless, I went back on the bus in the morning because I still didn't want my family to suspect something was wrong. I watched as the girl eyed every person and seeing it wasn't me, smiled to herself, but as soon as she saw me she gave me a very evil stare. I was hurt that someone could possibly hate me so much without any significant reason. All throughout elementary school, she never stopped harassing me. Every friend I tried to make she would try to pull them away from me. She would somehow find out who I liked and would tell them rumors and lies like, "She picks her nose all the time, I saw it." or, "I've been to her house and she lets her dog poop everywhere." and even, "She doesn't shower or wear deodorant." She also got a bunch of friends to turn away from me that way.
When I finally graduated elementary school I moved on to seventh grade. I thought it would be the turning point in my life. I had my small amount of friends from elementary that stuck with me through out all the ugliness, and we joined with another group of friends that came from a different school. These girls seemed like great people and I was finally making new friends. After awhile I bit my tongue because one girl of the group thought I was annoying and started to make up rumors about me. Then it all happened again, and I was in the same routine. I went to the lunch table everyday and only a few of my friends would talk to me since the rest were convinced by the others. After a while I realized I couldn't take it anymore and I sat there and burst out crying in front of everyone at my table. One girl said "You're a cry baby." and others said, "Rachel, it's not that big of a deal. Grow up." Grow up??! Not a big deal?! They didn't realize how much pain I had gone through and my friends didn't even bother sticking up for me. I decided to keep it together for as long as I could until another day where I broke down crying and I had to go to the counselor.
I went to the counselor and cried for the rest of the day. The friends I thought I had were all gone, and it seemed as though no one would ever like me. They always tried kicking me from their table and hinted that I was not welcomed. I told my counselor about these girls and she brought them in. We all ended up crying and they all apologized. Little did I know, they were all crying because they thought they would get in trouble, and they didn't actually want to be friends with me at all. In eighth grade I decided I'd throw it all away and move on to new friends. I found a nice table with people who had gone through similar experiences and these people are still my friends today.
High school came around and before I knew it I was swimming in friends. I found many people who enjoyed my company and liked me for who I am. The girls who ridiculed me are no longer in my life. Although these events were horrible, I see it as an experience that has made me a better person. I am currently involved in many anti-bullying programs and have been part of a group called LMTI, Lindsey Meyer Teen Institute, which advocates against bullying, abuse, alcohol, and drugs.
Now, you may be asking yourselves, "How did she get through that bleak time?" and the answer - I got through it because I believed I deserved better and I refused to believe I had no purpose in life. I always kept an optimistic mindset and knew that one day I'd become something great. All you have to do is find the right friends and keep your family close. Build a support group and live your life the way you want to.