I have always been on the shy side- never immediately making friends with people I meet, not the girl surrounded by friends everywhere she goes, not ever feeling confident enough to speak up in class or introduce myself to new people. Most of my childhood was spent playing sports or reading. When I was still in Elementary school, I was very involved in soccer. I had fun when I was at practice and at games. But, when I would go to school, I often wore my comfortable soccer shorts and t-shirts with my hair pulled back. I was what people might call a tomboy; I liked to play outside instead of inside with dolls and I loved sports more than I liked painting my nails. This all led to people thinking of me as a "weirdo" which is what they often called me in 5th grade. Many of the girls in my class refused to be friends with me because I didn't dress "cute" and I cared more about having fun outside than playing with dolls like they believed a "typical" girls should have. I had a small group of friends, about 2 or 3 girls I felt were similar enough to me that I could talk to them, but honestly, the only reason the group of us were really friends were because we felt like we didn't really fit in with any of the other friend groups. We were very different; one was a horseback riding lover, one loved to play the flute and piano, and the other loved to skateboard, while my passions were still soccer and reading. The group of us were friends, but due to the lack of common interests, we really just hung out because there was no one else who would want hang out with us. In addition to soccer, I was also a huge bookworm. A day didn't go by where I didn't read at least one chapter of a book. Often times, my mom would have to take my flashlight as punishment because I would stay up very late reading under my blankets using my flashlight so I wouldn't get caught. I was a Harry Potter enthusiast (which was uncool at the time), obsessed with Magic Treehouse books, and love the Little House On The Prairie series. Reading shouldn't classify someone as cool or uncool, but at my elementary school, it did. I was often made fun of for reading during recess because my friends weren't there or choosing to read instead of play a board game with my classmates when we had free time during the day because I was too excited to find out what happened in the next chapter of my book. More often than not, I was looked down upon and told I was boring and a nerd because I enjoyed reading so much. I will always remember a comment from a girl in my class who said I had "read more books in my year in 5th grade than she will in her entire life", and all I could do was sit and listen to her friends laugh at me for this. Reading shouldn't be something to be embarrassed about, but it was to me in 5th grade. The bullying only got worse when near the end of that year, 1 of my closest friends moved while the other 2 decided to break off from me and become their own close-knit 2 person friend group without me. Instead of just breaking ties and not talking to me, they felt as though they were above me and began to taunt me, walk behind me in the hallway laughing at me and making funny faces to make everyone else laugh too. I felt so hopeless, and even when I went to my mom, the only advice she could really give was that it would end soon because back then, bullying wasn't seen as such a big deal. Every day, I felt as though I was the weird one of my grade, the girl who had zero friends, the one who would grow up a loner and have herself and her books and that was it. It was a horrible feeling, especially when my low self esteem was especially tested when I moved towns and schools in the beginning of 6th grade.
Throughout the time in my new middle school, the taunting decreased, but I was still the "weirdo" and tomboy that was friends with the other girls who were seen as strange. This time though, the group of us were better suited to be friends and I felt much happier with them. However, the taunting changed to be making fun of me being a tomboy more than that of my bookworm habits. Every day, girls would show up to school with big bows in their hair, cute dresses, colorful and flowery bookbags, while I continued to show up in my typical t shirt and shorts with my hair in a pony tail, not really caring about how I looked because I was comfortable. It didn't bug me much until the taunting in 6th grade began. Lots of the girls acted as though I was gross and they couldn't come near me just because I wasn't dressed up for class. I couldn't understand why people that young really cared about what I wore to school, especially since my mom told me I could wear whatever I wanted to be comfortable and she didn't seem to have a problem with it. Every day, I felt the sting of people laughing at my tomboy ways. I attempted to dress cuter each year, the teasing was dying out, but the sting was still there. I would still occasionally receive nasty notes in my locker or hear boys making fun of me as they passed me in the halls.
I grew up and a now in college, working towards a career, and succeeding in many different aspects of my life. I have many good friends, still exercise and read regularly, and still would rather dress in comfortable clothes than high heels and a dress every day. My bullying may not have been as severe as many people's out there, BUT, I wanted to share so that I could tell everyone that it DOES get better! You just have to learn to be comfortable with who you are and realize that if people don't like you for you, they're not worth your time at all. I distracted myself with sports and reading, and still had childhood fun. I don't view the bullying I endured as something that permanently ruined my life. Yes, it did hurt at the time and it was painful and sad; BUT, I found my healthy and safe escape from the world when it became too much by reading and playing sports, I used my faith as a reassurance that it will all get better one day, and have learned that no one is worth your time if they think you aren't "cool" or "normal." Everyone is different; you just have to find those people you get along with and move past all the hate from the people who still believe making fun of others will make their own lives better.
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.