It is interesting that for many people, when you ask them of their fondest times growing up it was their good old “school years” that they tick off to be one of their most memorable and enjoyable experiences. Clearly there are the exceptions and i without doubt am one of those exceptions- i hated school both public and high school because those years to me were riddled with torment, regret and sadness. I am aware many people have had terrible experiences in school yet the unfortunate thing for me is the plague that began for me in Years 4,5 and 6- then followed me to high school- that is right…there was no escape from the grips of my bullies and for a total of 8 years- i was at their “mercy“.
People look at me today as a bright; charismatic and open minded person that has no problems with his knack for being a social creature and indeed i am, i have to admit i am good with people and most wouldn’t disagree with that notion- yet often people are shocked that i was a severely bullied kid. Early in my public school years in grades 1,2,3 and part of 4 i was the class clown- i was “me“. Kids loved me, and relied on me to tell them jokes and make them laugh, damn straight during those years i felt like king. Yet then as we matured and the competitiveness of school got “serious” the bullies saw me as an easy target. I turned into a lanky, tall, goofy character with little sense of threat and my approachability did not help as well, seeming i didn’t only attract people that liked me.
There was a group of bullies but only one or two main bullies that were consistent. I never fought back and given my strict upbringing – “answering back” was wrong and i did not have any self defense skills- both physically or verbally. This one particular bully was an evil kid. He used to physically punch, slap me- causing me to bruise. He’d degrade me physically and mentally. I remember once he caught me in a headlock, forcing me to the boys toilets where i was threatened to lick the urinal or he’d “kill me“. Clearly this threat was serious enough in my eyes, because i did it. Then i became the laughing stock of the school, known as the kid who licked the urinal- i stood strong in denying this the entire time.
The bullying was extreme at times, i’d get stabbed with blunt scissors and have my eyes glued. I would only retaliate with words, telling him to stop it- i’d tell the teachers sometimes too- all of which seemed relatively pointless because the thing is nothing changed. I figured i would just deal with this until finally i start high school, when i heard the news these bullies were coming along with me- it was a nightmare. In your first year of high school you are suddenly a nobody again- and the vulnerability is there. The bullying continued in high school, many verbal taunts and teasing with a few physical attacks too- particularly in trying to let me enact in degrading acts to get embarrassed and shamed.
The bullying became so bad that i decided i needed an “escape” and this escape of mine was an odd one. I decided to skip school every day in year 9. I’d pack my school bag and hop on the bus, only to drop myself off a suburb earlier and hit the library- it was here where i’d attend daily for almost 3 months. It felt fantastic, i had no one to fear. I read books about River Phoenix, the Brady Bunch and i loved to laugh at the MAD Magazines. Eventually the Librarian asked me why i was there every day and not at school, this was where i knew – i couldn’t do this forever.
The true blow came when the school called me home and left a voice message, informing my parents i hadn’t been in school for almost an entire term. My father did not take this news lightly, infact he gave me an outright belting for it. He probably thought i was some useless teen with no ambitions and found more pleasure in not going to school and instead hitting the arcades and being influenced by the wrong people. It’s okay, he still didn’t understand the extent of my problems until i was ordered a parental meeting with my principal Mr. King. He showed me my truancy sheet of paper and it literally dropped down metres on to the floor. This was where i let myself go and tell the principal of my situation because i was threatened with repeating the entire year due to low attendance.
This is a sense was a learning experience, i finally let out my main issues but even then i didn’t name drop much– yet i knew mentally this was a cleansing and physically i grew in confidence after some words of wisdom. I promised my father and the principal that i’d do my best to recover. My shocked friends saw me after an absence of 3 months and asked me Where i was- i outright lied and made the most hilarious excuse. I said i won a trip to Paris- thanks to a “I can’t believe it’s not butter” competition. Most of them bought it, except my friend Cem who quiet literally saw me walking the streets of Riverwood – a far cry from the alleys of Paris.
Year 10 in high school was the year i finally found myself, i dumped those “cool” friends that only befriended me to use me as a play-toy and a dog- and i befriended the “Nerd” clique. They took me with open arms, accepted me for who i was and suddenly my marks improved- my geography teacher Mr. Robertson called me the “Black horse” – because out of nowhere i became a threat to the class and indeed i was #1 before you knew it (for a limited time). During this time of acceptance and change i knew i finally had to grow a pair of balls- i had the height and the weight (i was fat) to be intimidating yet i never took advantage of this. Yet now i knew that despite my amazing patience- we ALL have our breaking point and i remember once when someone i knew tried hassling me in the class room i pushed him with the utmost force. He flew over two tables and landed with his legs up- the classroom cheered and indeed for once i felt like a high school hero.
From then on this new stealth Ramey was more respected- by year 12 my grades had improved immensely and i was seen in a positive light by most- sure i did not recover entirely and it was not enough time for me to have absolute confidence and respect- but Ramey in year 12- compared to Ramey in year 7- there was a stark difference. So for me- no- school was a terrible time. Indeed it was an experience that in a way was necessary for me to develop the skills because lets face it- sometimes life really is a jungle and it IS a survival of the fittest.
Today i walk away knowing that despite all that i went through growing up- mentally and physically i am healthy and happy right now. Perhaps another person in my shoes may have become depressed, killed themselves or hidden into obscurity– but not me! Now i know exactly what skills i will need to teach my kids to survive their school kids- it’s not as complicated as one would think. As kids we just need to stand our ground, be confident and certainly have the skills to deal with all types of people and situations.
My advice to people out there experiencing bullying- do not suddenly snap and attack– before you go through any change, if possible take time off- or express yourself in some way. Detox yourself mentally and physically and try to cleanse the past horrors away- sure they never disappear but even this placebo is very vital. Once mentally prepared it is time to let people know you will not take any crap- take advantage of powers at hand– dob them and dob them in constantly- not only to your parents but to teachers and principals. Also prepare to get physical, if they lay their hands on you at some point you may have to retaliate- let them know you will not take any of it. Constantly be better than them at it- let them know you are two steps ahead of them and that you won’t let them effect you. You need to be constant and persistant during bullying- never let it slide but instead constantly let people know, constantly push for justice and if it is required sometimes your physical strength is required to finally end it- if it is in self defence- never show a bully that if he or she has the upper hand so that you humble yourself and cower- because this is a green light to them and encouragement!
I hope i gave you a good insight into my school years- am i glad it’s over? DEFINITELY! Am i glad that it happened? Well…It all happens for a reason i guess.
Peace, Salam Alaykum