It began in 7th grade. I was small, soft spoken and painfully shy. I had a small group of "friends" however, these girls were much larger then I was, and they used this to their advantage. Every day for two years I was greeted by my "friends" by being pushed to the ground, punched and kicked and bombarded with insults about everything from my stature, my hair and even my breast size. I have a very specific memory of one of these girls throwing a shoe at my face, giving me a black eye for over a week.
In high school, however, I found a new place away from those girls; the high school dance team! It was there that I found refuge. I found friends who were kind and supportive and women who are still role models for me. Unfortunately, this peace was short lived.
At the end of my freshman year I had been elected by my peers as the captain of my dance team. What should have been a reason to celebrate soon became my nightmare. That night I went home to find that people were verbally attacking me, my coach and even my mother on social media. I remember crying all that night and dreading school the next day. I walked through the doors of my school with my head held high, but was greeted with dirty looks, whispers behind me in english, rude comments and shoves in the hallway. Gym class became a hunting ground where I played the deer and other girls played the huntress. Mind you, I was 14.
I made an attempt to speak out about my experience through a YouTube video that summer. I had often seen other people going vocal about their experiences and receiving positive feedback and peace! My peers however did not have the same reaction…it only made things worse. I was mocked and teased relentlessly making my life that much more of a nightmare and making me think that there was no solution or hope for me.
This continued throughout the year and well into my sophomore year as well. I remember feeling so alone…so vulnerable. The attacks on social media followed by torment at school led to feelings of anxiety and depression. I was so scared of everyone that I began to isolate myself. I was too afraid to sit with anyone at lunch and began to eat alone in the choir room, the one place I felt safe. I can not thank my teacher enough for allowing me to do so…I begged my mom nearly every day to let me come home early or to let me stay home or even consider homeschooling because I was terrified of my peers. The anxiety and depression became crippling by then…I had fallen into a mind set where I was sure that everyone hated me. I can not begin to explain the emptiness inside…the feeling of being so lonely and without a place to belong.
I thought I'd never make it to summer, but I did. And boy am I glad! That summer I went to Governors School. It was my saving grace. I met girls who I became so close with that I finally felt I could trust again. The night they called me their best friend, I broke down into an uncontrollable sob. From that point forward, things started to turn around. I became stronger. I channeled all my energy into theatre, singing, dance, and schoolwork. I found strength within myself that has made me who I am today. That strength to be confident in who I am has given me the grace and confidence to compete in pageants, vocal contests, and even become a Burning Hills Singer in the Medora Musical. It is also through that inner strength that I have reconciled with, forgiven and even befriended those who hurt me. Now of course, those feelings of anxiety still follow me today but I constantly remind myself to be strong in who I am. I will be touching more on how I pulled myself out of the darkness and the process of becoming who I am now in another post. =)
I know this is the worlds longest post, but I need to do one more thing and that is to thank all those who stood by me in my darkest moments. Thank you to my dance coach, my choir teacher, my girls from gov school; Maddie, SB, Corina and Amy. And most importably thank you to my mother and my Gigi for holding me, and talking to me late into the night.
Ok ok I know that was long and not the happiest of stories so I promise I will write something nice and light hearted next time!