I don’t have fond memories of my school years. I was picked on from about second grade through eleventh grade. I never knew what would bring the teasing on–perhaps being the only person in second grade to have to wear glasses? (This was long before contact lenses.) Or maybe it was my shyness–often I couldn’t think of anything to say in peer-to-peer conversation, so I was quiet. (When you are in school, any little difference from what is considered “normal” makes a person ripe for picking on.) Maybe the teasing of the moment revolved around my non-existent athletic ability (if a team had to pick me, the kids groaned and I wished for the ground to swallow me).
I considered my school years to be an endurance contest. I hated going to school, and loved weekends and summer vacations. Sunday evenings brought on anxiety and fear as I thought about what I’d face the next morning. If homeschooling had been available, I would have begged my parents to do it.
Although I wanted to stand up for myself I couldn’t figure out a way to do it. If I did, worse consequences might result. I was told not to fight, and the times my parents spoke to the teachers about the teasing only made things worse. I felt like a wimp, unable to take my own part.
When I was sixteen or seventeen my dad told me, “This is the best time of your life!” I was horrified. I remember thinking, If this is the best time of my life, you mean the rest of my life will be worse than this?
Many years later, my answer to my question is NO, my life now is better.
My life taught me this: after you graduate, you likely aren’t around those same people who did the teasing. You go your way; they go theirs. The world celebrates youthfulness, but getting older allows you to realize the things people say about you don’t have to cut to the quick anymore. You can shrug it off and live your life. You gain maturity and a saving grace–perspective.You can gain faith in the God Who loves you deeply and wants to give you new opportunities and confidence.
To any young person reading this who dreads the approaching school year, and wonders if things will ever get better, my answer is YES, things will get better. Hold on, don’t give up. When I was sixteen or seventeen life didn’t look good, and I went through dark periods, but I can tell you: There is life after high school.
Author’s Note: If anyone reading this thinks, I don’t want to go on. I can’t take the bullying. I’m going to end it all now., please talk to a friend, a pastor, someone you trust, or a counselor. Call a suicide-prevention hotline. Your life matters.
In the USA, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting Talk 741741. You can also go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website at: http://www.afsp.org. It has resources available there, for those considering suicide, or for family and friends, or for people who want to get involved with suicide prevention. The AFSP has local chapters, and sponsors the Out of the Darkness Walk.