Then Junior Hell hit, and suddenly cliques began to form, and if you didn’t fit, you were a social outcast.
My friends from elementary were social hits and butterflies, so I survived there. But I didn’t really make a whole lot of friends outside of my original group. I made a few, but they always ended up moving.
Also, puberty began. And I had AWFUL acne. Like, embarrassingly awful. My mother—the saint she is—got me into a dermatologist immediately. But, due to my awful skin, it wasn’t until High School my face decided to actually battle away the plague.
So here I am, anxiety ridden twelve to thirteen year old me, who is only acknowledged by others outside my friend group when others realize I’m smart and get good grades…or when they wanted to make fun of my acne.
Yeah, this really made me a fan of people.
This was the time in our lives when if you had something yummy for lunch, people would ask you for it. When you had gum, kids swarmed and begged you for even a bitten off, miniscule piece.
Honestly, I have forgiven this kid, but what he said to me will never leave my mind. Ever.
That saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Is one of the biggest lies anyone ever told. I rather be physically beaten then manipulated and hurt by words. Physical wounds heal quickly, but emotional and mental wounds remain forever—even if their power diminishes, they never disappear.
One day, I opened a new pack of Orbit Winter Mint gum (my favorite minty gum) in Second Hour Social Studies. The plastic caught, and when I tugged, the packet flew open and little individually wrapped gum pieces scattered around my desk. This kid, who was never kind to me in the first place decided this would be a wonderful time to send another barb into my weakened heart.
Clearly, getting a piece of gum was far more important than treating others with kindness.
He said, “Hey Natalie, can I have a piece of gum? You know if you chew less gum, your acne will go away.”
Forever seared into my brain. Which is so stupid right? Well…it is. It doesn’t bother me anymore, but as a thirteen-year-old eighth grader, it stung. I’m proud to say that even though I didn’t answer him, I didn’t give him gum ever again.
Eighth grade was also the year I had a really good time with my close friends. It was definitely the best year I had with hanging out with them outside of school, but the end of eighth grade also marked the beginning of me becoming invisible.
From this point on, no one expect for my family, even knew who I truly was. They stopped seeing me. They stopped caring. No longer was I an interesting person. I was simply a tag-a-long, or as that one novel defines it: the DUFF.
There was only one friend I had, at this point, who I knew without a doubt actually cared about me. Sure there were times when I was afraid I annoyed her, or was too clingy, but she seriously was the reason I survived school throughout elementary to high school graduation. We aren’t close anymore, but we are also different people. To this day she remains one of the kindness humans that have ever walked this earth. I thank God for people who understand what it means to truly be kind.
It’s not that I didn’t care about my other friends. In some cases I probably cared too much, but she was the only one who made me feel welcome and wanted every time I was around.
Always and Forever,