Life was fine up until middle school, when I switched from a private Jewish academy to the neighborhood public school. At the old place, it was what you could do that mattered; now, in middle school, it was only what you looked like, unless what you could do was tease others mercilessly! Being incredibly shy, chubby, having inherited my father's nose, having curly red hair and freckles (an oddity, compared to all the blondes at the bus stop) and going through an awkward phase at the time did not help. In French class, the popular girls laughed at whatever position I sat in. I could never relax because no matter how I rested my hand on my desk or leaned to the side, there they were, cackling and imitating it. In science class, some guys and girls tried to measure my nose with a ruler and drew pictures of me with this huge nose and little eyes and mouth and held it up. PE we will not discuss. But the bus stop was the absolute worst. I lived near three of the snobbiest girls in school and each day, there was something else wrong. I did not know how to feather my hair. I wore the same pair of earrings too many times. I wore shorts when it was too cold. My shoes did not quite match my shirt. I was "soooo ugly!" I did have the option to walk to another bus stop, but then we'd all end up on the same bus anyway and the girls would surround me and demand to know why I hadn't been there- didn't I like them, 'cause I was their BEST friend! (I had nightmares about that damned bus-stop up until the end of high school!). I was afraid to go to school each morning and would play sick as often as I could, utlizing tricks like smearing brown eye shadow under my eyes to simulate bags and mixing up oatmeal with thousand island dressing, putting it in the toilet, and pretending to throw up. I never told my parents how bad it was because my little brothers were popular and I was ashamed. I became severely anorexic after 8th grade and because of this, my parents let me attend a high school in a different district for 9th and 10th. It was much larger than the one I would have gone too and while I wasn't really teased there except by a few asshole guys, I was invisible. In 11th grade, we moved down the street from the old high school and I switched back (not by choice, mind you!). But it turned out better than I'd thought. I found the goth/punk/theater/creative writing groups and began to dress and behave the way I'd always wanted to but had been afraid to. Yeah, there were student council-type people spreading rumors that I was a Satanist, psychotic, etc. and because by senior year I was openly bisexual, but I didn't care as much because there was a whole group I related to. Senior year I got into the Rocky Horror Picture Show and met some cool college age people who told me about their similar experiences and let me know that life would not always be that way. Now I am 26 and studying drama therapy, specializing in adolescent girls. I hope I can give them the guidance I wish I could have had!
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