You don’t need a big, beefy senior to bully you. We don’t need the backdrop of a shady parking lot for the bullies to snatch away your lunch. It’s funny how the most scarring incident in my life was drew by those I looked up to. As a 16-year-old, you’re still living in a fool’s paradise. A little away from the reality. Or was it just me? Anyway, these 15 minutes, more or less, carved the person I am right now. For better or worse, I don’t know. I grew up believing that times have changed. Believing, that the Gen X truly believes in scratching the surface. Oh how naïve of me. I had never noticed how bushy someone’s eyebrows were or how freckled their cheeks were. I thought the grounds for trying people were dependent on what was hidden behind their face. But you see, I have a poor sense of judgment. So, I learnt this fact the hard way, real hard. I was bullied and I was defenseless.
I am hairier than usual girls. A light skin color and a dark hair growth is a bad combination, really painful too. Growing up I knew, my long sideburns sometimes became an added adjective to my description. But it was okay, no one said it to my face and I had other things to worry about. Just one casual April morning, I was finally made aware that these long sideburns make me different. It so happened that I was in the senior block. It so happened that I was standing in front of a group that was liked by almost everyone. Amidst the clattering voices and hurtful glances, my mind finally grasped the reason behind the giggles that were directed towards my face. It was just a matter of few seconds that their cutting comments fell on my ears. It was obvious, a little hair on my face bothered them. It felt like someone wrote my weakness and kept shoving it in my face. After around 15 minutes of all sorts of comments, one of them came close to my face. I could feel his eyes studying my face and his mouth opening in a disgusting grin. Slowly, the entire class was looking at me and laughing and shouting words that made my heart bleed. I was numb. I was speechless. It felt like someone sucked all the oxygen from my lungs. For the first time, I could feel the atmospheric pressure. My stimulus ceased to supply tears to my eyes, even though, I had lumps in my throat. It felt like someone stabbed me, then sealed the wound and again stabbed me in that very spot, and kept doing that over and over again. For the first time, I realized how destructive words can be. The next thing I remember were the washroom walls. Probably I walked off from that classroom and headed straight to the washroom. Somehow, my reflection on the mirror pushed me over the edge and that’s exactly when my lips tasted the saline water. I don’t remember sobbing that much ever in my life. I remember keeping quiet for the rest of the day, very unusual of me. I was bullied in the daylight by 40 people who didn’t even know me. I was bullied because I didn’t match the societal standards of beauty. I was made to cry because they thought I wasn’t pretty. I was made to feel bad about myself for two years because some seniors were bored, and apparently I was their mode of entertainment. This one, did have a lasting impact on what I am. I stopped tying my hair in a ponytail, left them hanging down to hide the sideburns. I spent my entire time looking up all sorts of remedies for it. I stopped accepting compliments, started feeling insignificant. Every time someone told me I looked good, I thought they were mocking me. Just 15 minutes were enough to rob me of my personality. Just few minutes were enough to make me an insecure, vulnerable mess.
Eventually, I started joking about this. I resorted to self-depreciative sense of humor. My defense mechanism was ‘mock yourself before they point it out’. My mind forgot how to embrace compliments and it sucked. It sucked for me to look at the mirror. It sucked for me to go out. Slowly, I shriveled up and forgot the most basic fundamental. It took me time to accept that I wasn’t a bad person. It took me few months to realize that I could still make heads turn by my skills. Those individuals didn’t know me. They didn’t have the slightest idea of what made me, but even then they decided to break me. Probably, it was meant to be funny, and it was just supposed to be forgotten. But I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I still remember it as vivid as a spring afternoon. I am still on the odyssey of accepting myself. It’ll take time to shed off the dead skin. But it’s so sad, how they mocked someone about a thing that was so natural. As months passed, I decided to keep my sideburns. I decided against laser or anything that’ll completely remove it. Occasionally I lighten it a bit, but they still peek from behind my hair. I am just trying to make peace with it. I never got how people wrote poetry on girls tucking their hair behind the ears, because when I did that, I was left scarred. This incident defined hypocrisy for me. Told me how we don’t always mean the words that shoot out from our mouths.
And, this is how from being a confident, self-loving and complete person, I became a self-doubting, self-mocking individual in just 15 minutes. This is how I found out how corrosive words can be. This is when I realized, you’ll be judged on the basis of your face no matter how sapiosexual an individual is. We prefer book covers over the words, don’t we?
Well, this is how I was bullied.