by Saoirse O'Mara
I have been a victim of bullying throughout my whole school life. It began in elementary school. Other children laughed at me, called me names, sometimes even pushed me around. Their reason: I was different. And I was smarter than most of them.
When I changed into the German equivalent to a highschool, I was glad that none of my former classmates were in my new class. I could start anew. My peace lasted over a year. Some time during my second year, my "friends"started to whisper about me behind my back. They didn't want to play with or talk to me anymore. I didn't know what I had done to them and they wouldn't tell me. I was alone once again. Soon after, some of my classmates began to call me names and push me around again. They took my pencil case or school books, they even kicked me during breaks. It became so bad that I was afraid of going to school. The only times I felt secure were when a teacher was around, e.g. in class. I tried to avoid them during breaks but as soon as we had to return to our class, I had no chance to hide. My only hope was that our teacher would arrive pretty soon to stop them.
My daily trials went on for months. I was too afraid to tell anyone, or maybe I was ashamed, or I thought no one would help or believe me. I don't know my exact reasons but I kept silent. Until that day when I was with my best (and at that time only) friend. She was at a different school, and she was the only person whom I told about all that. I was crying that afternoon and we tried to think of a way out for me. We somehow came up with the idea that it would be great if I could just change schools and go to her school. As her mom was teacher, we decided to ask her if such a thing was possible at all. Of course, she wanted to know why we were asking, so one thing after another, I told her the whole story. She explained that a school change was possible but that I had to talk to my parents first of all. She made me promise that I would. Since the idea of changing schools gave me hope again, I told my parents that very evening, with lots of tears and sobbing.
What followed were weeks of insecurity and even more trials but some sliver of light at the horizon too. Now that my parents knew what was going on, they let me stay home when I felt ill in the mornings - and there were lots of days when I woke up sick or with headaches. Normally, those ailments would disappear after I knew I could stay home. At school, my teacher talked to the ones who were actively pushing me around. One of them apologised and left me alone afterwards, but the others only said what the teacher wanted to hear without changing their behaviour. Some weeks later, my teacher wanted to talk to my parents and me about my wish to change schools. She talked about just changing classes until I finally started crying uncontrollably. I couldn't bear it any longer. After that, they agreed that changing schools would be best for me.
Still, I had obstacles to overcome. The principal of the new school didn't want to take me in as he didn't want to take good students away from the other schools. I was dumbstruck. I pleaded. My parents explained my situation once again. Finally, he agreed to talk to my current principal and make his decision afterwards. He took me in. I was so relieved to get away from my bullies yet I was afraid of what would await me at my new school.
My first day at the new school was difficult. However, I was in the same class as my friend so I knew someone. I soon found another good friend with whom I'm still in contact. I became the victim of name-calling and rumours again too. This time, it was easier to bear with the bullies as they didn't touch me physically. The most important change, though, was the fact that I was no longer alone. My time at school wasn't exactly easy but it was manageable.
Later at vocational school, there were students as well who didn't like me and showed it openly. Again, I had a friend so I could bear with the others. However, I was relieved when I finished my professional training because that day meant that I would never need to go to school again if I didn't want to.
Even now, three and a half years after that day, I feel uneasy when I'm around people who are at my age or younger (teenagers) and look like this type of people who bullied me. I can't bear walking into a highschool while being watched by teenagers. Yes, I have grown emotionally because I had to. But those scars on my soul, they will never fully heal.