In sixth grade I was walking to my heinous orange locker in between 3rd and 4th period. I was going through that awkward stage of life. I had grown quite a bit over the summer and unfortunately my favorite pair of jeans didn’t join me in the growth spurt. There was a group of girls huddled near my locker. For a brief moment I wondered if it was possible that they could be waiting for me. Maybe they finally recognized my pathetic attempts at fitting in. Maybe they had finally noticed my Aeropostale sweatshirts and brand new trapper keeper.
Of course they weren’t there for me. A girl who was infinitely cooler than I had ever hoped to be had a locker just a couple of numbers away. I could feel my face getting hot as I noticed their attention turning toward me. I looked down at the ground as I found myself doing many times in middle school and tried to open the locker as quickly as possible.
Suddenly I heard my name. They were totally talking to me. My palms were starting to sweat. I looked up at them and they were all giggling. She then repeated the question that I had missed in my nervous state.
“Hey Lara, awesome jeans. Where’s the flood?”
They all started laughing and I, of course, laughed too. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about but I knew it wasn’t a compliment. I wanted to pretend I didn’t care. I wanted them to think I got the joke.
I spent the rest of the passing period in the bathroom staring at myself in the mirror wondering what was wrong with me. As I look back on this incident as my 22-year-old self I still feel a knot forming in my stomach and my insecurities from that time rushing back.
It’s been 10 years since this incident happened and yet I still find myself staring at the floor when I walk past flocks of girls at the mall or in a frozen yogurt place.
My experience with bullying was mild compared to most and yet it still affected me greatly.
There is so many times in life that I have wished to be someone other than the person that I am.
Although I try not to have regrets in life, that’s probably my biggest one…all the time I wasted wishing I were someone else other than appreciating the person that I am.
I may never fully recover from my adolescent insecurities, and I may never be the type of person that my middle school classmates would consider “cool” but I still think I’m pretty damn great. It’s taken me years to gain the most important acceptance of all: my own acceptance.
At the end of most days I can honestly say that I am proud of the person that I have become.
Can you say the same?