An overweight 10 year old kid desperate for friends, but none in sight. Kids calling them names, laughing about his weight, making them feel bad about themselves. This kid only wants friends, something they have had trouble with all their life. Their desperation for friends is tangible as they do whatever they can to make a real friend, they even play “the bad guy that gets killed every time in EVERY game” just for some kind of attention. Just one that they can play with at recess and share jokes and have fun with.
One day, they come into the lunchroom like any other day, things are as usual with everyone eating and talking. They set their lunch down on the table and take a seat in an open spot. As soon as they sit, all of the kids at their end of the table deliberately get up and move tables. Well, “Maybe they are just done eating and are ready to go out for recess”, but no, this is not the case. It was obvious to the kid that it was them that caused the other kids to get up and move to another table to finish their food. They instantly know what happened and why. They other kids, being cruel as they are, got up and moved because they are “the fat kid”, overweight and undesirable, even as a friend. They tried to take a few bites of their lunch but they have no appetite, they put their head down and just cry.
This kid is Me.
I went home this day feeling completely and utterly defeated. I didn’t understand. I was always nice, tried so hard to make friends, and did whatever I could. The simple fact that I was overweight was the only reason that no one liked me. I was judged everywhere I went as “the fat kid”, “the weird kid”, “the annoying kid”, and for some reason unknown to me, “the gay kid”. Growing up I never knew what being effeminate was, I didn’t even know what “gay” was, just that it was not good. (I have theories I’ll post on this topic later I’m sure.)
All through elementary school, it was rough. The last 2 years were especially so because I was also a new kid at the school. I had made maybe 1-2 acquaintances during that time period and of course they were girls. They both lived not too far from me in the middle of nowhere, but we didn’t really hang out outside of school, we were just ‘friendly’ at school. Of course I had my neighbors who also went to that school, but one was a different grade and the other a different class, so I literally never saw them there, and at the time, we weren’t really “friends”, just ‘friendly neighbors’.
I always got into some kid of trouble at school too. It may have been for attention, but at the time I’m sure I was doing what I wanted because it was fun, even though it was against the rules. I learned what the inside of the principles office looked like really well. This happened to be a great way to avoid reality and just sit somewhere comfortable while the other kids forgot I existed for awhile.
In middle school I didn’t have friends yet again, just one of those girls I was an acquaintance of, which became a little more friendly. I started noticing my ‘being gay’ a bit more and tried hiding it. I was very self-conscious of how I looked and everything I did, from the very clothes I wore (of which I had very little power regardless how I begged my mother for cooler clothes) to the mannerisms that I had. I felt like I had to keep these deep dark secrets in order to possibly make friends and be accepted. In middle school, no one really talked to me much so I was able to hide things easier to which I just remained quiet and alone.
I still longed for friends of course, but I didn’t really try to worry about it too much. I was becoming more and more concerned about my weight however, due to the cruelness of others, and so I attempted to try out for the basketball team in the 7th grade. It definitely didn’t work out as I had completely fallen out of being athletic since being a child that played soccer and t-ball 5 or so years prior. Thus, in my last attempt, I made the decision in 8th grade to go out for the football team in high school.
I got onto the team (as they pretty much accepted everyone). I figured, why not? They teach you discipline and they make you exercise. Another motive was that this was a big group of guys, I may actually find some friends here (which I actually did, but high school is another blog). When training came around, we worked and we worked hard. I wasn’t the only “fat kid” anymore, but I was still the “possible gay boy?” in the room. I was asked a few times if I was, but I always denied it. If you think elementary school kids are cruel, think of what testosterone driven high school boys are like. They are pure evil to others just in ignorance.
Since that day in the lunch room in elementary school, that very day in fact, I came to the conclusion that I will never let anyone get to me enough to make me cry ever again. I very clearly remember saying to myself “I will bottle up all of my emotions, close myself off and grow a thick skin.” I honestly have only cried a few times since. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel emotions and I can cry, but it takes a lot to get to that point.
This happened approximately 19 years ago. My question here is: Is this the single most identifying point in my life that has made me who I am today? The embarrassment that I suffered that day, the heart break, the sadness, the personal growth too. Do I have a strong sense of myself and my character today because of how I grew up? Being bullied and picked on by other kids? I by no means was bullied physically, but was assaulted mentally. Was this something that turned me into a better person? Am I stronger today because of it? What would this mean in today’s society?
Are kids today too sensitive? Will this sensitivity and political correctness that is spreading like a disease weaken us as people? I honestly remember a time in my life where we used to say “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Is this still a saying today? Did it change to “Sticks and stones won’t break my bones, but words will always hurt me”?
When did we create humans that are physically impervious but mentally broken? How did it happen to our society? Did we fail because these upcoming generations are unable to handle criticism and words?