TW: this post mentions mental health and vague mentions of drug use.
I realised recently that I’ve now been out of High School longer than I was there. I also realised I was allowing my experiences of it stop me from doing things. For example, I’ve never wanted to have an online presence in case people from High School saw it and got involved in some way. I’m aware there’s nothing they could do, there’s no effect they could have on me as an adult.
One of my friends said to me a couple years after we left, “It’s been ages now, can’t you let it go?” I realised I couldn’t. I still carried some of the damage. He said this because my group of friends started hanging around with a couple of the people who were the worst culprits in School (and not just for me). I understand why he said it, it had been years, but I still felt the same.
I feel like there’s two kinds of High School experience, you either survive and thrive or you’re left damaged by it. That isn’t dramatic, a lot of kids suffer real, long-life scars from their High School experience. I was lucky; my bullying wasn’t physical. No one ever physically harmed me or attacked me. For me, it was all mental. Things I couldn’t even write down because it just wouldn’t seem like a big deal on paper.
It was just a constant reinforcement that I was worth nothing. That what I had to say meant nothing.
Unfortunately, due to mental and physical health, I wasn’t in school a lot towards the end. For some reason, this meant my teachers also disliked me. My coursework ended up “lost” a lot, and teachers harassed me in the hallway. I have no doubt I seemed standoffish – I was very ill. In short, High School for me was isolating and, honestly, frightening.
I’m not afraid of my High School peers reading this, I’m proud of it. I’m proud to be able to say that my High School experience felt horrific at the time, yet I’m a success in my life. I didn’t need to harm anyone or belittle anyone to be where I am. My success isn’t measured in being powerful.
I left school with 1 GCSE to speak of. I flunked the others or missed them due to being high on drugs.
Now, I have 2 jobs, a diploma, a degree-in-progress, a fiancé, my own home and I live somewhere wonderful – far away from my home town.
I don’t blame the people in school for being what they were. I think everyone tries to survive as best they can and sometimes, the tactics they use create penalties for other people.
I won’t forget, and I doubt I’ll ever forgive them, but I can move forward. I can make peace and take pride.
Anyone who’s suffering through High School can. The way you come out of High School isn’t your be-all and end-all. I promise you, you can rebuild. You can make your ‘after’ story a great one. The kids there don’t affect you in your own adult life.
Remember, you never deserve it. It isn’t your fault.