Cruel taunts lead to years of anxiety, isolation

The shove came from nowhere.

I was walking to class when suddenly my body lurched sideways, banging up against one of the lockers.

Three girls swept past me. One looked back and laughed.

It was the first time I had been confronted in any negative way at school. I was in seventh grade, and the idea of someone purposefully hurting me was completely foreign.

Before long, though, the taunts became a daily occurrence. The group of three grew to five, and they would laugh and hurl derogatory insults at me as I passed by them in the hall.

Insults about my appearance.

“You look like a troll.”

Insults about my weight.

“You look like you’re about to explode out of your clothes.”

Insults that my young mind didn’t even understand.


And then came the most hurtful words of all.

“You’re worthless. Go kill yourself.”

But I didn’t blame them. I blamed myself. I thought there was something wrong with me.

I hated going to school. It was nearly impossible for my mom to get me out of bed. Eventually, I’d get up, but as soon as she left, I would crawl back under the covers and cry.

Before, I always wore a smile on my face. I was unwaveringly optimistic.

But that part of me was destroyed. Their cruel words changed the very fabric of my being. By the end of my seventh-grade year, I was a completely different person.

I felt like I was standing still while everyone else was walking around me.

By the beginning of my eighth-grade year, I was too depressed to leave the house. The thought of going back to that school with those horrible girls terrified me. My parents finally forced me to confess what was going on after witnessing how much I had changed. Telling them, especially my mom, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. She’s the strongest person I know, and I was worried she would be disappointed that I didn’t stand up for myself.

Instead, she held me while we both cried.

Together, we decided that homeschooling would be the best option for me. For a little while, not going to school helped, because the bullying stopped. But not being around any other students made me feel even more alone.

After a year away from public school, and a number of therapy sessions, I learned to accept that people were going to try to tear me down — but it only matters if I let them. I came to terms with my own insecurities. All the things those girls said to me — their cruel, constant taunts — became a distant, if still painful, memory.

The experience made me stronger.

I’ve had some anxieties this year as a sophomore here at Braswell. It’s been hard, but not as hard as it was. Where people previously wielded the power of words to hurt, they now use it to heal. One of my friends told me just today, “You look different … you look happy, pretty.” I could feel the smile spread across my face. “Thank you,” I told her. “I appreciate that.”

That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I’ve had issues with missing school, especially when I can’t shake the thoughts of what it used to be like. But every day is a little better. When I was depressed, all I wanted was to be at least OK.

I’m OK.