Opinion

Awful school kids shaped a more resilient me

I WAS never the cool kid at school. I know, right. Hard to believe.

But seriously. I was never the kid the others wanted to hang around.

I was the anti-cool. I liked to read books, get lost for hours in volumes of prose that transported me far away from my reality.

I played the flute, I sang in ensembles and choirs - although I was never as good as my sister who I'll never forget sang solo to a packed entertainment centre audience while I watched terrified and in awe.

My parents worked hard, but they kept to themselves and didn't participate in the cool-people barbecues.

We did okay. We weren't flush with funds, but we were taught never to throw what we did have in the face of others.

In the later years, funnily enough, that might have applied to values, morals and an ability to keep one's legs together as well. 

I never had the fabulous clothes, the brands or the cool-kid sneakers.

I never went to parties or made a name for myself according to the number of boys I had shagged on the beach, in a boy's parents' bed, up against a nightclub wall, in a pool or behind a shed …

In fact, to sum it up, I was the girl some of the other girls were really mean to - and the boys too.

The one they would laugh at, bitch about to their friends just loudly and theatrically enough so I could hear.

I would sit on the bus, quiet. Devastated. Looking out the window, tears prickling my eyes.

I was hit with a steel ruler. I was pushed from behind. I had my skirt lifted up. My ponytails pulled.

It was gut wrenching at the time. I knew these people were trolls. I knew they were too incomprehensively stupid to know any better.

And I still look some of these people in the eye from time to time as they play nice and talk about the old days like it never really mattered.

Well, you know what? It did matter. But maybe not in the way they might think.

It hurt at the time - excruciatingly so, in fact - but actually, they did me a favour.

My moral compass is well calibrated and I have an acute and highly accurate bullshit meter.

As far as suffering fools, it's not a case of won't. It's just that I am actually unable to.

I've done jobs and made decisions where not being liked was par for the course - newspaper editor, go figure, hey!

But my faith in myself, the grounding my parents gave me and the fact I learned early that success is not measured by skirt length, shagging partners or popularity has done me okay.

I have some dear friends and some great acquaintances from my days at school.

We keep in touch, I welcome them into my home and I cherish their friendship.

Some of those friendships are even better now than they were then. And as for everyone else, thanks!

I owe you nothing. But I am grateful. Grateful for the fact you taught me how not to be, and that you help galvanise my spirit.

In a small and funny way, you've helped me get where I am today.

Topics:  bullying meredith papavasiliou opinion school



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