The Bullying Stops and You'll Find Friends

I had always done well in school, but I was around 8 years old when I had to get glasses and I recall the bullying starting. It started with simple "four-eyes" jokes, which didn't bother me much, but continuously progressed. My classmates would try to get a rise out of me by doing multiple things, some-times it was name calling, sometimes it was taking my stuff, sometimes it was just teasing me about anything I showed weakness to. I didn't know how to react, I tried to be defiant, fighting against their behavior, using stinging replies and aggressive behavior, but it didn't stop the bullying. As I got older, I experienced worse bullying, not in intensity, but in intent. Other girls would pretend to be friendly with me to get embarrassing information out of me, then publicly shame me. I felt divided from my peers, like I couldn't trust any of them, but I started finding my own friend group. A group of people who were slightly outcast like me, who got teased for doing well on their tests and enjoyed reading fantasy books and playing Magic: The Gathering. 

The personal attacks from others still stung, but it helped knowing I had a group of friends. In middle school, this group went to a different school than I did and I found myself alone again. The bullying became more passive-aggressive and hidden, everything was said behind my back because I often was confrontational when I was bullied directly. Water was poured in my sports locker and girls snickered at me and tried to get me in trouble by blocking my entrance to classrooms so I would be late. I played strong, but it wrecked havoc on my emotions, I was terribly depressed and couldn't decide if I hated them or myself more. I found a few friends in band who were geeky and silly and supportive. I didn't talk to them about the bullying, but it was nice to have some people who were friendly to me. 

When I got into high school, though, everything started changing. I wasn't teased for my good grades, I was appraised for them. The people who has teased me before came to respect me, they grew out of their meanness. I realized that I was still very different, but in a way that I liked and that people liked me for. When I was younger, peers teased me for not conforming to their ideals and interests, but they respected me for having different ones as I became older. 

The older I have grown, the more people I have found with interests like me who have become my very good friends. Many of them were teased and bullied when they were younger, but now they do not suffer from any of that and enjoy their lives fully. My self image has improved immensely, I have grown to love myself and I know that everyone can. It will be hard and people will be harsh, they will spew awful words, but often some pain, misunderstanding or fright of their own is behind them. It can be hard to tolerate, but it does get better. You will find amazing friends who embrace you and your interests and only expect you to be who you are and not want you to act like anyone other than yourself.

I'm 23 years old now and a proud, young woman. People still will occasionally say mean things, but it is so few and far between that it is hard not to laugh at their immaturity and I never find myself concerned with their words. Look for friends who will support you, but don't be concerned if they are hard to find at first. You'll discover each other with time and things will get better. 

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