Behind every "I'm OK", there is an "I'm really hurting inside"...

My name is Ocean, and I am 16 years old. My name was the first subject of teasing. My story isn't as extreme as others, but to me, it was. Everything started when I was 11, when I began competitive swimming for fun, not to become a Michael Phelps. I was teased by a boy who was 3 years older than me for 2 years, but I never told the adults in my life because I thought I could handle it on my own. Turns out I was wrong. He teased me because I didn't have a "barbie body" in a swimsuit, and teased me because I wasn't the fastest swimmer in the pool. 

It got to the point where he would take my goggle cleaner, which was windex, and spray it in my eyes. He would call me all sorts of names, from pure idiotic childish names to very hurtful dirty names. After the only friend I had left the swim team, I was alone... No one would talk to me, or notice I was alive. Someone even sat on my bag when it was right next to me. The only time someone would talk to me was when they were asking the what the next thing on the swim list was. I would smile and walk past people, but inside, I was desperately fighting tears. Books always have been and always will be my forever friend, because in that time, I turned to books to keep my company.

I was hurting inside for so long, I even began to hurt myself. I would take a candle and pour the melted hot wax on my hands, and let it dry, just to peel off the hardened wax and see the small burns underneath. Once or twice I cut myself, but through that time, I found music. Singing was one thing that helped me express myself, and writing songs helped me say what my mouth couldn't bear to say. I also fell in love with acting, because acting let me become someone other than myself, someone different. And at the same time, I quit swimming and began volleyball, and I am now practicing with the Cayman Islands National Youth Team, and eventually the National Team.

It took over years for me to be 'accepted' into a little group of friends, and it turns out that those friends have been there for me and stuck up for me for. I have known my best friend for five years now, and even though we weren't close when my bullying began, we are closer than sisters now, and we stick up for each other when no one else does.

My self-harm is in the past now, even though I do play with melted wax from time to time, just for the fun of it. I probably wouldn't be the person I am now without my best friend, because without her, I would have killed myself. Books are still my favorite comfort because they take me away from my world. I'm forever grateful to Christopher Paolini for writing his series, The Inheritance Cycle. Those books kept me going when I couldn't do it on my own. I have read each of his 4 huge books 5 times, and every time I read it again, I find a detail I have missed. 

I have become a quiet person, and sometimes a loner, but I have learned to accept who I am, and if no one wants to hang out with me, that's their loss. I know I can be a good friend, and I know that I am none of the names they call me, and that's good enough for me. My personal quote is, "What other people think of you is none of you business." It has helped me to be confident in myself, and volleyball and acting has also helped to boost my self-confidence. I also lost weight the beginning of 2013, and I feel great now! Sometimes it just takes time to let the wounds heal, and yes, we will probably carry those scars for the rest of our lives, but we will know how to deal with them if it happens again.

I have never understood how or why people can be so cruel, nor can I ever hope to completely end it all, but I can try to make a difference. A 15 year old boy in my area committed suicide a few weeks ago because of bullying, and even though I never knew him personally, he played basketball at the same gym I play volleyball, and I would watch him play. I watched him play for over a year, and during that whole time, he never smiled once. When they announced his death at his school, his "friends" left the assembly laughing. I don't want that to happen to anymore victims of bullying, because that is just wrong.

I never stop fighting for the underdog, because that is what I used to be. No one stood up for me, and that hurt, so I am determined to never let anyone else be left in the dark to fend for themselves. To everyone else who is a victim, never ever stop fighting for what is right, and be a friend to the ones who don't have any. Be strong in the face of the enemy. Be the sturdy rock in the middle of a stormy ocean, and let the waves of insults wash right over you, and after the storm, you are just as you were before the storm. Strive for the best you can be, strive to be the stronger one in life. Don't let anyone else be alone when they need it the most. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are different, and if they tell you to be normal, say "Normal is overrated.", because its true. Always be uniquely you!!!


-Ocean Marie vanderBol-Costa

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