And so the A-Z memoirs continue! A few weeks ago I wrote about how, as children, we try to figure out what is sociably acceptable and how to fit in with our peers. Bullying at school is one of the biggest issues we face today as a society, and with the growing number of methods such as social media used to target youngsters, it is more difficult than ever to find a place to feel safe and protected.
I did not fit in at school (who did right?). But while most non-popular kids blended into the background as part of a defence tactic, I somehow managed to make myself an easy target.
I may have been ridiculously shy, awkward, insecure and anxious, but I was argumentative and stubborn in my beliefs to go with it. Answering back to those who I felt were treating others unfairly, be it to me or someone else, was not ok for someone on my (un)popularity scale. If I heard or saw something I didn’t agree with, I would speak up.
But I had none of the vocabulary to do so eloquently, or even convincingly, and often I wished I had just kept my mouth shut, as I eventually got cut down to size and bullied into submission by those more assured than myself.
Sticking up for yourself and others is a wonderful quality to have if you’re a confident, popular school girl who knew what to wear or who the latest pop stars are. It is even powerful if you have a posse of people looking at you as the be all and end all of ultimate ‘cool’.
But that wasn’t me. I listened to country music, Celine Dion and The Beatles, wore clothes that were practical instead of ‘in’ and never knew the right thing to say. The friends I did have would often desert me in favour of the popular kids if they had the chance. It was hurtful, but I understood. Who wouldn’t prefer to hang out with them instead of me?
I also had a temper. Through the violence I witnessed because of the alcohol abuse at home, I started to act out aggressively.
An aggressive, shy, little blonde German; I definitely made myself an easy target, especially when I would eventually back down and start crying. Sensitive and antagonistic is not a good combination! The problem was, and is I’m sure for many, that I didn’t know who I was, so I couldn’t be myself with any certainty. I would read books and try to identify with the women in the stories. I’d think ‘I’ll be like her’. Desperate to figure out my place in the world and to be liked for who I was, who ever that was, was a struggle and a huge weight on my young anxious mind.
As the years went on, my anxiety worsened. I felt more like a freak as I assumed my unpopularity was down to me being unlikable. I didn’t blame anyone for not wanting to be around me. I started to get stomach aches from excess acid created from my anxiety. These were treated with milk of magnesium tablets. Like a plaster put over a reoccurring wound, the cause wasn’t deemed as important.
I was a child and this was just part of growing up. I’d get over it like all other children do.
Of course my mother and family did all they could to help boost my confidence, but those voices in your head only get louder the more they are reaffirmed by the actions and words of your peers.
School was always an issue for me. I never fit in, and it took me early 30 years to figure out that this was a blessing, not a curse. But while there were times and events happening at school that made my life difficult, it was nothing compared to Pony Club (yes, I went to Pony Club!)
To find out what happened and why during times that should have been the making of my career as a horse-woman, were some of the worst of my life, check in for my next post.