Thursday, May 22, 2014

That thing that happened in high school that pretty much changed your life forever

When I was home March 2014, my friends told me something I didn't know. I was bullied in high school. Right now you're probably like "what? Is she on crack? How can she not know she was bullied?" It was a revelation to me. Proof that events are what they are depending on your perception and what you do about them.

Just to give you a bit of a background, let me tell you about my school and what may have led to the bullying. Like high schools some of you have read about, seen in movies or even attended - mine had cliques. I attended an all girls school and without boys to run around with, the tomboy in me was lost. There were the popular girls, some pretty, some smart, some talented - some of them were nice and fairly modest, a few drama queens and some high maintenance ones. There were the girls who played sports, the girls who played music, the girls from the top class from each year, etc. 

I was in the honors class my first year then moved to a regular one my second because Algebra proved to be way too difficult for me. In the school I went to and like most high schools in the Philippines, you stay with the same people year round (and in the same classroom). It was in my second year that I met most of my high school friends. Two of my good friends moved away in my second year but junior year, I found myself in a class that completed the rest of my high school friends. And then senior year, my friends and I were in different classes. 

While I wasn't close to anyone in my class, I don't remember disliking anyone at first sight or avoiding anyone in particular my first few weeks. I was friendly enough to people (or so I thought), minded my own business and spent all my free time with my friends who belonged to other classes. At that time, I used to bring a newspaper at least three times a week to stay abreast of current events and for debate material. This detail seems kind of random but you see that's what started  set off the #meangirls. One day while I was off enjoying the morning break with my friends, one girl (or maybe two) took my newspaper and decided to cut away articles or pictures they wanted. If they had borrowed it and left it in a heap, I would've been mildly annoyed. Like my friends say, I'm ridiculously good in sharing my things. If they had asked me if I was done reading or if they had said they wanted to cut parts of it, I probably would've agreed. As it was, my temper flared and I told them off for touching my things and destroying the newspaper. Really silly, right? I have a hot temper that cools easily though, and while I may be a bit wary the next day, I thought nothing of it and left my bag unattended once again during break the next day. When I got back, someone had squeezed toothpaste all over the inside of my bag. I can't remember if they touched my bag again after that, but soon after that, none of my things were ever left in that classroom again. They were either on my person, in my locker or at my friend's classroom in the room next to ours. How sad that I trusted her class more than mine. I never managed to build a relationship with anyone from my class. I was always the odd one out. 

Looking back, I can remember that for the rest of the year, there were a group of girls in my class who were forever unfriendly and sometimes downright hostile to me. No real altercations of any sort which always made me wish we could've just punched each other and had it all over and done with. 

Why write about all this? Because I remember that it happened BUT I got out of high school unscathed and happy. To this day I have friends who love weird, different me. In some ways I've blocked parts of my high school life but I kept all the fun, beautiful parts that I shared with my friends. The letter writing, skipping out on school events, long commutes home, movies we watched, games we played --- the list of good memories go on and on. I never felt I was a victim because I had their support, acceptance, and yes, love. 

I've had this post on my drafts for over a year because I didn't really know what the ending would be until today. To my dear friends, thank you. 

More than a year and a half in my drafts - finalized 12:27 pm Zimbabwe time January 1, 2016.