We live in a world where we don’t realise or are completely oblivious to the idea that depression, isolation, anxiety and separation exist. When we are 13 or 14, we pack our bags every morning and head out to school. But we often forget to roll a bundle of bandages we might need to cover the battered blows to our mind and heart that would endure in the most unfiltered ways.
So we come back home – with a wounded soul and a bent down head – but an unwavering smile that always seems to be saying otherwise.
“I’ll be alright.”
“You haven’t beaten me.”
“Just a few more years and then it’s over.”
I was 14 and 5″7, the tall one, the disfigured one, the displaced one. The one whose eyes were too small and arms too long. The one whose legs seemed to be an entity on their own.
Every time I walked the halls there were eyes, not older or wiser than mine, gawking at me. Demanding a justification for an existence I didn’t think I deserved.
So I stared at the mirror a little harder – I ate a little less – I smiled a little bigger, cracked more jokes and spoke a lot louder.
I tried to find my place in a world that wasn’t accepting of the image I had to offer. Rather, I had to accept the bullying.
Six years later, I walked the same halls and saw versions of myself that were once safely locked in a cupboard at the far end of the room. I watched them urging the world with unspoken words to relocate themselves. All because a bunch of spoilt and lost little kids didn’t like the room they took up every time they sat down to read or to eat – or breathe.
Almost as if I was seeing a moving picture from the underside of a glass bottomed boat – the bullies in their petty stature look up at the lost versions of myself. They leave a plethora of remarks in their wake-not pretty enough, not smart enough, not good enough, not woman enough to be friends with them- but their remarks don’t last and neither do they.
That was high school for me then, this is high school for me now.
Would you want to be a parent to a child, teacher to a student, sibling to a brother, or sister who sits in their room thinking of new ways to end their life? Because that seems like a better option than going to school and walking amongst kids who might silence her every time she speaks? Who’s watch elucidates the haunting sound of the tick tock tick tock – a subtle reminder that you are here. You are still here.
Ask yourselves why at 22, your child is more comfortable in a closed room than among family and friends? Remove that blindfold. Don’t let the facade fool you into thinking everything is okay.
I walk now, in the same halls that once made my knees buckle to make sure I can do my part. Reach out to a 14 year old who sits in a quiet corner and eats his lunch only because his voice is coarse in puberty and his mustache is just a few tiny hairs sticking out awkwardly. Bullied and broken.
So thank you for breaking me and reminding me to never stop crawling, even with scars etched in my back that read:
“You are not good enough.”
Guess what? I am. And so is the girl who sobs silently in the corner. So is the boy who can’t help the fact that his parents got divorced. So is the child who has a learning disability.
The next time you punch a 12 year old in the school courtyard, before you walk away – remember, you wouldn’t be so cocky when their silent snivels become a pathway to a despicable future you didn’t anticipate.
That’s the world we live in. Where you have to protect yourselves not only from rapists, pedophiles, strangers or large men, but from being bullied by your peers. From girls your age who stare you down and make sure that a large grain of sand is never removed from your cape every time you shoot your arms in the air and try to fly. From the boy who decided to let his fists do the talking for him. Bullying is an epidemic; graduating every year with an honors degree.