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How I 'Asked For It' In School

by Heather Cumbo about a year ago in School
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The Embarrassing Moments That Fueled the School Bullies

How I 'Asked For It' In School
Photo by Sin on Unsplash

I was a victim of bullying in school. It has had its life-long effects. Part of my anger and depression I've experienced in life stemmed from the frustration of not knowing what I did to deserve such treatment. I just wanted to be left alone. I tried to be a nice person and couldn't understand why people took such an automatic disliking to me. I'm in my forties now, and I am just now beginning to see things from my schoolmates' points of view. Maybe, just maybe, I was a little too much for most teenagers and the only way they knew how to respond was to laugh and pick on me. Now, I'm not excusing bullies or anything. I still don't think I deserved to be treated the way I was. I'm just saying that I now recognize some of my behaviors as peculiar and could understand other students being taken aback by them

For one thing, I spoke in an odd manner. I have always been an avid bookworm and had a propensity for classic novels. While other girls were reading Baby-Sitter's Club and Sweet Valley High, I was reading Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. I sat in Study Hall reading The Lord of the Rings, Spoon River Anthology, and Gone With the Wind. I guess the exposure to such literature shaped my language in a way that stood out in stark contrast from my peers. I was grossly unfamiliar with the modern slang of the early 90's. Sometimes, I misused words and phrases. One time, I described an awesome hiking experience as "grody" and was informed that I meant "bodacious." Even worse than not knowing the trending vocabulary were the quaint words and phrases that I did say. I caused an uproar in my biology class when I looked at the worm I was about to dissect and said, "What sort of queer creature is this?" There was also the time that I tried to stop bullies from picking on me by shouting, "I am getting peeved by your little antics." There's no wonder I didn't fit in.

I was (and still am) very emotional. I cry very easily. Nothing gets a bully more revved up than seeing the tears of their victims. But being emotional isn't just about crying. It's about taking each emotion to the utmost extreme limit. So I also got picked on for laughing too loud. They laughed when I got red with anger. They even goaded me when I was in my silent, reflective moods. No matter what I was feeling, it showed. And no emotion was safe.

To go along with being emotional, I was also the type of person who felt things deeply. Again, this hasn't changed in adulthood. I get overpowered by the beauty of trees. My heart feels like it is being clinched when I contemplate the mystery of death. My love for my daughter just rushes over me sometimes that I have to stop and take a breath. This tendency to be overwhelmed with emotion didn't go so well in school. One time, again in Biology class, we were studying the cell. It is the building block of life. All at once, it came to me how powerfully awesome that was. All of life came from this tiny little cell. Amazing! Since I believed in God, I also found it amazing that there was a greater power that created all life from that tiny, microscopic cell. I raised my hand. The teacher called on me. I opened my mouth and spurted out my newly found love and respect for the cell. I let the class know just how incredible the cell was. I think my eyes were glazed over a little. There was silence, then an explosion of laughter. The teacher spoke up, "Now, now. It is amazing. It is incredible. She's right." I blushed and spoke no more.

To top it all off, I was innocent. I liked being a kid, so I tried to stay a kid as long as possible. I was in no hurry to mature. I remember girls in the locker room talking about their serious relationships. Meanwhile, I was very awkward around boys. To me, kissing was a big deal (and it was something I hadn't tried). I didn't know how to flirt. All this kind of made me the target for some cruel pranks. The worst thing for me was the topic of sex. Everybody knew everything about it. I knew nothing. I didn't know the vocabulary. I didn't get dirty jokes. I didn't understand the mechanics. It truly was the Great Mystery. So, it became a great way to ridicule me.

I really haven't changed all that much from high school. I'm still pretty weird. What's different? I've found my people. I surround myself with those who love me as I am. My husband especially likes my quirks. For those who are put off by my strange ways, I do my best to ignore them. I'm learning that being myself is the perfect way to find inner peace.


About the author

Heather Cumbo


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