Do you remember the time in primary school, secondary or even college. The time when you felt like every morning you have to go to a Big Brother’s house where everyone will be looking at you, judging, waiting for you to slip so they could eliminate you? Where everything was a reason for someone to take a piss out of you. The way you dress, music you like, your grades being too low or too high. Being a girl, hanging out with mainly boys in secondary school made you a slut, and it didn’t matter whether you slept with every single one of them or were a virgin, you were still a slut. Being a boy and hanging out with girls either made a sex god or a wuss, it all depended on what other “sins” you’ve committed, gods forbid you had great grades and read a lot of books. Everything seemed to be a reason to spread rumours, call you names, laugh at you, shun you and even if you did do something great nobody ever cared.
I remember a girl called Jo. I would lie if I said we were best friends I still believe she wasn’t a particularly likeable person but she DID NOT deserve to be called names just because she was a skinny little thing with a grace of a cat with Smarties tubes on it’s paws. She didn’t deserve being told she’s stupid and will die alone by people whose grades were about the same as hers and who barely moved on from sticking crayons in their nostrils. She wasn’t treated like shit for things she did, and while she was no angel very few of us can say they do everything right. But she wasn’t bullied for making up a boyfriend (at least not initially). She made up a boyfriend because she was sick of hearing she’s unlovable. As years passed she was getting more and more desperate to prove her worth while she shouldn’t have felt the need to. She shouldn’t have felt bad for being single at 14, most people at that age didn’t date back then. She shouldn’t have felt like she’s always going to fail because if she worked hard for it, she might have not been an A* student, but she could have done better than F. I remember when she said she wanted to go to university and study History when we were 13-14. She never did, because no one in school ever told her that there were things she was good at but they were eager to tell her about everything she sucked at so many times she actually believed it.
I remember a boy called Matt. He was a nice kid, really bright and interesting to talk to, used to stutter ever so slightly when he was nervous. Not many people knew that, what they did know however was that he used to always borrow pens, pencils, erasers and any other form of school equipment from people saying he forgot his, his clothes never fitted right, his hair always looked like someone cut it with garden shears and he rarely opened his mouth, when no one was watching he’d ask whether I can help him with his homework, he never asked me to do it, just help. Sometime when I took out my lunch he’d look away and I would pretend to be fussy or not hungry and not want it just to casually ask him if he does, he always did. People would call him names, laugh at him and despite him laughing along I could see a mile off that he didn’t find their jokes funny. He wasn’t amused by people telling him he stinks, people refusing to touch the same pen because “he’s got AIDS”, people asking which rubbish bin did his mum find his clothes in. He always said he’s too warm even when it was -30 Celsius and he’d only wear a spring jacket. I remember Secret Santa when I pulled his name from the hat and bought a fully equipped pencil case with additional tidbits and a scarf-gloves-hat set. When we opened our gifts some other kids laughed calling it lame. He stopped forgetting his equipment and despite being “warm” still wore the winter kit. I found a note on my desk saying “thanks”. I didn’t think much about it when I was getting the gifts for him, only after said Santa I realised how much these little things meant to him. People found it easy to treat him like a dog that rolled in something nasty because everything he owned up to that day was used, second hand, found or pulled out of community charity box. No one ever stopped and wondered what his home must be like. No one ever asked why he’s wearing tattered clothes and uses second hand books. Why he doesn’t have a mobile. No one thought about reasons just laughed about the results. If they asked they’d know he had 6 siblings of varying age and his dad wasn’t there, I’m not sure what happened to him I just know he wasn’t there because Matt didn’t want to discuss it. I’m not sure what happened to that kid after secondary school but I do know that every time he mentioned what he wanted to do his eyes would gleam for a bit… then go off as he’d tell me that “at least that what I’d wanna be doin’… but I’m not smart enough to get the grades”. or something like that. The thing is… he DID have potential, a lot of which has been crushed by people’s insensitivity and stupidity.
Now, years later people from my school sometimes message me on a popular social network just to see how things turned out for me. Some of them made school life for me, Jo, Matt and many others Hell on Earth. Now they will say something like “God, I was such a prick at school, lol, eh old times huh? We were just kids.”
Yeah… you were just kids… doesn’t mean that it’s OK. Because these names, these “jokes” might, just might have crushed someone’s faith in themselves, someone’s pride, dignity, self esteem, confidence, hopes, dreams. Some of these people have paid very high price for you being “just a kid”. Time can’t be turned back. But sometimes only sometimes, after all these years “I’m sorry” could still make a difference, or at least show that one person how wrong you were. It won’t fix anything, it won’t return what they’ve lost but it might prove that you DO have a heart. And if you STILL don’t feel like you owe them at least these two words…well guess what? You’re nothing but a self-absorbed brat who outgrew his nappies and still can’t take consequences and admit they were wrong. And you know what? By the end of the day, they’re not the real losers- you are. They’re just people who had to fight, every day just to feel like they deserve to be cared for and treated with respect, some managed, some haven’t but they still achieved more than you ever will, no matter how good your career, family life, sex life or social life is. They’re able to understand and related to others better than you, and probably are way stronger than you ever will be. Because all you are is a pathetic bully who uses what THEY see as weaknesses to feel better about themselves and their life. Now how sad is that?