6th grade was the worst year ever.

Grades 1-5 were easy. I didn't get bullied then. In 6th grade we moved to a bigger school district where I knew no one. At the same time, I hit puberty, began to break out a TON. My voice changed and cracked (and I'm a girl). That was all they needed to systematically take me apart, word by word. I was a "dog." I was "ugly." One time I asked my crush in art class to quiet down so I could concentrate on my drawing and he asked me if I knew how many pimples I had. All the friends he was talking to laughed an ignored me. I was devastated. It was the first time he talked to me.

Even my dad would point out my pimples and tell me they were ugly and they were my fault, that it was something I was doing that caused them. Like I wanted to have acne. Like I wouldn't do anything in the world to get rid of it so my crush would notice me and people would leave me alone.

One kid in the hallway that I didn't even know can up to me barking like a dog, in my face, and then spit on my face, called me a dog, and walked away. His friends laughed. I told my teacher and they got in trouble. They did leave me alone, but it didn't solve my problems.

We had to move so I didn't go to that school anymore. In 7th grade I was ridiculed less, because I was back in my old school with my old friends. I was still made fun of, but it wasn't as bad as that. And because of that experience, I was standing up for kids when I saw them being bullied. And the bullies listened. They were visibly embarassed.

Bullies expect praise for their actions, and their friends are giving it to them. And when you're that age, your friends' approval is everything, even if what you're doing gets you in trouble with teachers. So if you don't praise bullying, it diminishes their reason for doing it. If people didn't support these kids, if their friends didn't think bullying was cool, they would find something else to do, I think.

8th grade got a little easier, and I started to make friends with all the kids that were bullied too. In high school I dated a football player and *everyone* left me alone. But since I'm a lesbian, that wasn't really the best solution for me, and I am sure it's not an option for many of you. It sucks that it had to be that way, that I had to join them to avoid being disgraced by my peers anymore.

Sometimes I feel, at 28 years old, that I'm still there. Sometimes I feel so small and so worthless that it's like I'm back in that hallway and the spit is flying. What breaks my heart is this: when I was 13, I have a vivid memory of sobbing in my room and staring at my wrists wondering what sharp object would hurt the least. This happened more than once. I never did anything to myself, thank god, but only because I'm squeamish and hate the sight of blood. But looking at my life now, with my beautiful partner in this beautiful city and all my beautiful (inside and out) friends and family, I am so glad of that fear of blood. It kept me on this earth. I would have missed all of this if I had let the bullies win and taken my young life. I would have missed all the best parts of my life that hadn't come yet.

I hope this story helps anyone feeling this way to change their mind. When you're a kid, you feel like a year is much longer than you do when you grow up. Those years will pass no matter what. Stay safe as you can, seek help as much as you can, call bullies OUT, every time, and if you think they will endanger your safety, and adults aren't listening, tell more adults until one does. Do not give up. DO NOT STAY QUIET.

Because my mom told me (and I didn't believe her either but it turned out true) that the popular kids are boring when they grow up, and the nerds and the geeks and the freaks? We all have super cool jobs and friends and live in cool places and do cool things because those kids, us freaks, we become the cool kids later in life. Later, when the jocks go bald and have kids too early and wives that hate them? The cool kids, the freaks they made fun of? We are RUNNING this place.

DO NOT GIVE THE BULLIES YOUR LIFE. It's not theirs. It's yours. Keep it. High school ends. You are not what they say you are. I promise.

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