At high school I was called ugly by a group of girls. Day in and day out I was taunted with the words ugly and useless, the words unwanted and hate were also thrown into the mix leaving a lingering feeling of self-pity in their wake. I tried to avoid these girls, who were once my friends, but they made a special effort to hunt me out. Prior to the names and the words, the end of our “friendship” was signaled by the girls filling my drink bottle with toilet water and laughing while I unknowingly drunk it. At primary school a teacher on several occasions called me stupid in front of the entire class, and a group girls picked on me because I smiled too much – but someone once told me that I wasn’t a kind person.
I’ve been bullied before and I’ve had friends’ just fade out of my life, but to be called unkind, and by someone I trusted that is a different story – that really hurt! She even took the time to highlight that my younger brother was kind, but I was not. Granted this wasn’t a conversation we had yesterday, in fact it was possibly three years ago but it’s a conversation that stuck in my mind, gnawing away.
What did my little brother do that was so different? What did he do that made him so kind? Does everyone see me the way She does?
I suppose I’m not “Little Miss Sunshine” I don’t greet everyone with rainbows, sunshine and hugs, but I’d never thought of myself as unkind. To me unkind sounded like I was someone who could casually walk past a homeless person without that twinge of guilt over my life being so privileged. It sounded to me like She thought I was someone who wouldn’t help a friend move, wouldn’t visit a sick a relative and wouldn’t sacrifice my own happiness to help another…. And I would. I most definitely would.
I know I’m not the nicest or kindest person in the world – She had made that pretty clear. I know sometimes I’m short tempered and quick to anger. I’m certainly not blind to the fact that sometimes I snap at people or retreat from the world and hide out, but I am always sorry afterwards. It simply boils down to “knowing me before you judge me”.
“Know me before you judge me” is the mantra of mental health in New Zealand, and if you really knew me you’d know there is almost nobody in the world that I dislike more than myself. I feel awkward and vulnerable most of the time, and have this sense of being sub-standard. I often retreat to the far corners of my mind and pick holes in myself… my appearance, my personality and basically everything that is me. At times I feel self-conscious, and my over active mind leads me to believe that the people around me may in fact hate or dislike me or are simply just being kind and really all I want is to be liked.
I know it’s not all bad, and I know deep down I’m probably not nearly as awful as I think but that’s the issue with feelings, you can’t just rationalize them away or explain them into extinction.
Working with fabulous people in the retail and beauty industry who are dripping in style, and arrive at work so well put together means, I constantly feel just a little bit dowdy, a tad uncool and smidgen mismatched out of place. I feel like the kid who forgot it was mufti day at school and rocked up still in uniform, or the person who 100% missed the memo.
Sometimes I imagine better clothes, new hair and new look will solve all my problems, but quickly find myself standing alone in the courtyard at school again looking for someone to sit with, and realize this possibly runs a little deeper. Actions and words can sometimes be so toxic that they seep deeper into someone’s life than you’ll ever know leaving contaminate environment slightly damaged by the past.
To the people I’ve picked on, excluded from things, made snide remarks about and been mean to, I am truly sorry and I always will be.
I’ve lost friends, and in some cases don’t specifically know why but I’ve ever hurt you know that I am truly sorry.