The Difference Four Years Can Make

As a freshman, my favorite time of the day was 1:36 p.m. Every time my watch struck 1:36, I was happy because I was now liberated from the torment, the misery. It was at that time that third period ended.

During that year, I gained a total of 21 pounds and four girls in my Physical Education class made sure I knew it. The girls’ locker room became a battle zone. Each day as I changed into my P.E. clothes their mouths would begin to chatter, their eyes would begin to stare. Quickly, their tortuous words would escalate. They made fun of my clothes, my intelligence, my voice, and even my laugh. After two weeks, the idea that what was going on was my fault became engrained into my head. Something had to be wrong with me that invited this punishment.

Every day as I dressed for school, I would worry about whether my hair or clothes would satisfy them. I would think: Maybe just today they won’t pick on me. I would tell myself to keep my loud, boisterous laugh to a minimum so I would not be heard. I would tell myself day after day to not be myself, because myself wasn’t good enough.

Living a normal life after that semester was not easy for me. It would have been easy to resort to the ostrich syndrome and walk across campus wearing all black, muting my laugh, and eating away my sorrows. It would have been easy to bash my school and blame it for my suffering. It would have been easy to have just given up on myself. Often, I felt the need to cut and hurt myself to feel comfort. Gripping onto a pair of scissors, I couldn’t bear to do it.

I expected more from myself. 

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