I am a 25 year old, 6'3" woman still struggling with bullies. The first time I was bullied I was a fetus in my 6'4" mother's belly. It was her first visit to meet with the man that was to be my pediatrician, he gawked at her height and exclaimed that she was to have a giant baby. She never returned, and found a less observant pediatrician for her first born.
From what I understand, I didn't grow a whole head of hair until I was 3 years old. I was always wearing one of those elastic headbands that squeezes your infant's head so the rest of the world can be certain of their gender. Despite this, strangers would often proclaim, what a big boy I was and couldn't believe I was only however old I was at the time.
I remember one of the first times I really understood that I didn't fit it- I was 4 years old and my family had recently moved to a wonderful subdivision that had a park and other children I could play with. That was when I met Julie, my very first bully. She would come over to our house almost daily and play on the wooden fort my father had built in the backyard. I was thrilled to have made my first friend in this new neighborhood. She quickly became one of the meanest females I have ever known. She told me that I was a giant and would never make any friends and continued to try and keep that promise all the way through high school.
Throughout elementary school, I was cut down by classmates and their parents for being the tallest student in my class, and eventually by 4th grade, the tallest in the school. In 4th grade I had a substitute teacher, Mr. O'Connor, belittle me in front my the class. I had a question so I sat silently with my hand raised at my desk. He finally looked over at me and scoffed, "What are you, the Statue of Liberty?!" I can't even remember what my question was anymore, but he continued to say, "You lie like a dog, you lie like fleas on a dog, you lie like fleas on a dog on a filthy rug. Be quiet." My classmates roared with laughter. I wanted to disappear.
In fifth grade, I was bullied by a boy that sat in the same grouping of desks as me. One day, when school was dismissed, he walked closely behind me in line and wrapped his hands around my neck just before we reached our lockers. I remember scratching his hands, feeling him squeeze as hard as he could. I couldn't hear anything- I don't think anyone even noticed. I finally closed my eyes and thought, well, I guess this is it then. Suddenly, Anthony, a classmate of mine, jumped on his back and took him down. I didn't know what to think. I couldn't comprehend that someone in my class, not only wasn't trying to destroy the little confidence that I had, but literally saved me.
6th grade was a really difficult school year for me. Looking back, I think everyone was feeling insecure about the upcoming transition to middle school. I remember wondering if I was still going to be called a loser, retard, gay, giant, freak, or fat-ass in middle school. I was feeling terrified of the possibilities, but the idea of being able to reinvent myself was exhilarating. I was going to stand tall (and not hunched over), score some friends and maybe a boyfriend?? I figured 4/5ths of the school wouldn't know who I was, so I could be the confident woman I desperately wanted to be. All of the girls in my class were trying out for the junior dance team and were rehearsing out at recess while the boys watched. I remember sitting alone on the jungle gym watching everyone rehearse with the big boom box in the grass. I decided, "F*ck it. I'm going to try out for the dance team." I gathered what little confidence I did have and jumped in line with the other girls. Tony, the coolest, cutest boy in my class shouts, "Olivia! [Oh my gosh, he knows my name!] No one wants to see you shake your fat ass! Get out of here!!" Everyone stopped the routine and laughed. I.wanted.to.die. Fade into nothing. Disappear. For the rest of the year, Tony and just about everyone else cut me down constantly.
Thursday was library day. One day Tony and his partner in humiliating me, Pat approached my table. Pat said that Tony[hands in his pockets] had a crush on me and wanted me to be his girlfriend. I couldn't believe it- I was so red in the face, skin blotching. After all this time and embarrassment, he liked me? Tony likes me? I looked up at him and realized he is pretending to masturbate through his pockets and they burst out laughing. He shouted, "No way! You are a loser- I would never go out with you!" He went back to his table and I sat there wanting to die. Fade into nothing. Disappear. I finally stood up and walked towards the bookshelves, past his seat. Suddenly I'm falling, chin crashes into the wooden table, knee slams into the cement floors beneath the carpet. My right knee fell hard. Really hard. My mouth and knee is bleeding. As I type this, I am right back in that moment Why can't I fit in? Why don't they like me? Why do they call me gay? Retarded? What do those words even mean? Will people always be mean to me? Will I ever get a boyfriend? F*ck my knee hurts!
Spoiler alert: Not a lot changed in middle school or high school for that matter.
I did finally make a few friends, most of which used and abused just the same as everyone else. I've always been drawn to people that didn't quite fit in, just like me. Unfortunately, not all of them were just misfits and that couldn't fit the preteen/teen cookie mold. Some had trouble making friends because they were downright awful people. My best friend from 7th-12th grade started countless vicious rumors about me, dragged me into dangerous situations, and cut me down in the hallways. My self worth was slim to none.
Outside of school, adults would gawk at my height. They'd run through the usual questions: How tall are you? Do you play basketball, volleyball, etc.. How tall is your mom? Your dad? How's the weather up there? Do you have a boyfriend? How old are you? Do you have trouble fitting into submarines? [this was actually asked while shopping in Barnes and Noble with my mom] Because, I mean, who has seen a 6 foot tall 8th grader?
And no, I don't play basketball or volleyball. I suck. :P
[I could kick your ass in tether ball, though.]
Senior year of high school I fell madly in love with one of my good friends that I'd always figured was way out of my league because he was super cute, funny, played guitar, and was, wait for it... NICE TO ME. As it turns out, he liked me too and 5 years later we married and now we've been together for 8. He's wonderful, supportive, occasionally awkward and his been through most of what I've been through, and in some cases much more.
ANYHOW, one of my other awful best friends at the time insisted we apply to the same college and become roommates. Because I had no backbone, I happily obliged! We lived together for a miserable three weeks while she guilted me for having a boyfriend and cut me down for not wanting to party with her 7 days a week. She disrespected me and our living space every single day. I won't bother you with all the nitty gritty.. When I'd finally had enough of her abuse I went to our RA and begged for a new roommate. When she caught wind of my request, everything escalated even more. She and her new friends threatened me, spread rumors throughout our building, tried to destroy my relationship with my boyfriend, and finally made these awful fliers. She photoshopped my Facebook profile picture to make me look morbidly obese and added the tagline "How's the diet going, Olivia? Guess it didn't help your two-faced-ness LYLAS" These fliers were put all over our floor, the building, the parking lot, all over the entire campus. The were EVERYWHERE. I.wanted.to.die. Fade into nothing. Disappear. Nothing ever came of it. My RA and Hall Director didn't do a single thing.
I did get a new roommate, but she was just about as terrible. Aside from being the run of the mill, awful roommate- dirty laundry everywhere, puking in our room on top of said laundry, using my things, losing her pants on her drunken way home stumbling into our room naked from the waist down.. she also constantly bullied me. I was a giant, retarded, dyke, ugly, fat. She referred to me as FUPA. Urban dictionary that.. I was going home every single weekend to get away and spend time with my boyfriend. She would always complain that I was so ugly that she couldn't see why my boyfriend would want to be with me and not someone like her. She also killed my bubble eyed goldfish, Nancy. Fortunately, she was expelled by Christmas break
[I am just now realizing how long this is! Thank you so much for reading!]
I did have two different wonderful roommates after that mess followed by two other awful ones that cut me down on the regular.
So now I am now 25 years old.. [almost, almost 26] married to an amazing person, have a pretty great job, a nice little house, we each have our own cars, an awesome dog and I have some wonderful friends. I wish I could tell you that I am not bullied anymore, only surrounded by wonderful, supportive people and proud of my height. Unfortunately that's just not true. I am still cut down almost every day by random people because of my height. My knee pops and crunches with every step I take, reminding me of that fateful day back in 6th grade. And I am randomly consumed with overwhelming sadness.
Every day is a decision to just keep going and try to make the world a little friendlier. When people cut me down, I remember that I have the POWER to just walk away. I have the POWER to DECIDE how I want to respond to a negative situation. The older I get, the more I am understanding that despite all the education and resources that are available in this world, people are as ignorant as ever. People are always going to confront me needing to know just how tall I am, that I am the biggest woman they have ever seen, how will I ever find a man to marry me, that there is no way I could be a woman because I am so tall. People are just crazy and you need to just keep chugging along. Don't let someone that doesn't even have value in your life define who you are. I am still learning to love myself, I'm a work in progress and I am okay with that.
YOU ARE UNIQUE. YOU ARE STRONG. YOU ARE BRAVE. YOU ARE A F*CKING CHAMPION.
I am sending you a hug through your computer.
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.