Like any good New Yorker, when someone comes up to you with a clipboard asking you to sign their petition du jour, you throw on your shades and put your ear buds in. But this time I didn’t get my ear buds in quick enough to ignore what they wanted. This time it was a petition for helping kids who are bullied in school. I just shook my head no and kept walking; but this time I really could have kicked myself.
Anytime I tell someone that I was bullied in middle school, it’s hard for them to believe. I’m quirky, outgoing, and generally happy most of the time. How could I have ever been bullied?
After 5th grade, I transferred to a new school. It was a feeder school to the high school that I went to. My parents thought it would be easier for me to get into if I was at a feeder school. I wasn’t really nervous for my first day of school as it wasn’t the first time I’d gone into something without knowing someone. Back in elementary I went to summer camp without knowing anyone. (I also ended up going to camp for 12 years, so it all worked out well!) But for a year and a half of middle school, I was miserable.
I can’t exactly remember how it started. I had certainly made some new friends and they were very nice to me. But for some reason I started to get bullied by one girl. AIM was the place for her to bully me. She even had a friend from another school bully me online. It got bad enough that my mom went to the school to make sure that I wasn’t sitting next to her in class. There was also a time where a girl told me to take off the safety pins on my back pack that resembled the ones on hers- and if I didn’t, she would beat me up. Nice girl, right?
By the time 7th grade rolled around, I had started to change my look and my identity. Call me a “poser” if you will (since I was eventually called that), but I started to identify myself with Avril Lavigne. I stopped shopping at Abercrombie and traded in those clothes for ones from PacSun, Fast Forward, and even the ickiest of places- Hot Topic.
I would literally beg my mom to let me do my hair like Avril’s; blonde on top, black on bottom. I semi got my way with a dark brown on bottom and a warm honey on top.
Converse and vans were my go to shoes. I even bought a skateboard that I used maybe only 5 times at most.
By the end of the first semester of 7th grade, I couldn’t take it any longer. My parents let me switch to my local public school, and by the grace of God, everything worked out for the better.
I still kept my Avril Lavigne persona, though. Talent shows and choir concerts consisted of me singing Avril Lavigne songs. You better believe that I sang “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated”.
The only “negativity” that I got at that new school was getting the nickname “Dale”. The story goes that a few guys were trying to spell my name, and ended up spelling Randal instead of Rachel. It kinda stuck and they ended up calling me Dale. I was annoyed at first, but I stopped caring. And surprisingly, a few of the guys became my friends.
Luckily for me, high school was pretty good, too. It was the high school that my parents wanted me to go to in the first place, but it was bigger than my middle school, and I rarely saw the girls that bullied me.
The reason that I’m writing this is because of an article I read on Elite Daily. I guess you can say that I’m somewhat thankful for the bullies who tormented me. I’ve gotten somewhat of a thicker skin since then. Of course there will always be girls who will say mean things to you. But this time I don’t cry over it; I ignore it and move on.