My experience with high school has many similarities as well as many differences with what we thing the “average” high school experience would be. I have experienced just about every point on the social spectrum of my high school. When I was a freshman, I was well known, well liked, and respected. I had many friends, many acquaintances and I got good grades. I was always happy and it seemed like people were always happy to be around me. This popularity continued into my sophomore year. I turned 16 and got asked on a few dates. I asked a few people on dates myself. I’m not shy, and I never have been. I had friends in every class and if I didn’t, I would make some. I was incredibly social and outgoing. I even asked one of my friends to prom and had an awesome time. Toward the end of the year, they were taking candidates for student government. The day before the permission slips and essays were due, I decided to run. I should mention that I wasn’t the kind of popular most people think of when they hear that word. I wasn’t preppy or rich. I didn’t wear the fanciest clothes or have a football player as my boyfriend. I wore ponytails and worn jeans and t shirts and converse. I was just me and liked for who I was. Anyway, I made posters and t-shirts and gave out bracelets and lollipops. We were supposed to do a skit one day but I just did a speech that ended up being more of a standup comedy routine because really, I just winged it. But I got a lot of laughs and a big round of applause at the end, so I guess I did alright. The day of results came and I came in third behind two stereotypically popular boys. Usually, they choose one boy and one girl as representatives for a class, but this year they chose the two boys. I was bummed but decided it would have been a LOT of work if I’d have won. Everyone who came up to me acted furious that they chose two boys. They were telling me to fight back and argue and stuff but I just didn’t think it was worth it. My junior year was the end of my popularity’s life. I got a boyfriend close to the beginning of the year and things were awesome. I was in a few honors classes and an AP art class. I was happy and in love. I hung out with a more specified group of people that first term and found out who my true friends were. Then, during the second term, everything exploded into chaos. Rumors of me being pregnant and sleeping around for money circulated throughout the school. People offered me cigarettes and drugs in exchange for sexual favors. My boyfriend who told me he loved me broke up with me because he believed the rumors. I learned that the pregnancy rumor was started by a girl I considered to be my “best friend”. Confused and heartbroken, I started experimenting with self-harm. I would get called to the counselor’s office almost daily. I was despondent and tired all the time. People that I didn’t even know would throw condoms at me and call me horrible names. Graffiti in the bathroom went from being “I luv Jake” or “Mr. Matthews wears ladies underpants” or stupid stuff like that to awful, hurtful things based around my promiscuity. The end for me was when I was cornered in the bathroom by a group of girls that thought I had slept with one of their boyfriends. They screamed obscenities at me and one girl even slapped me and spit in my face. They left me in the corner, shaking and sobbing. I left the school and walked to the library where I called my mom to come get me. I sat in my room for days, only leaving to go to the bathroom. I ate because my parents forced me to. I was hopeless, glazed over and unresponsive. I snapped one day and screamed at my little sister. I grabbed her by the wrists and pushed her down. I locked myself in the bathroom and sliced my arms up worse than I ever had before. A hospital trip later, I was bandaged up in my room, thinking about how much happier everyone would be if I was dead. Then, a girl from my church named Kesha came into my room. She sat on my bed and with tears in her eyes told me she loved me and that it hurt her to see me like that. Kesha and I had been friends for several years and I’d figured she’d abandoned me along with everyone else. She hugged me and my eyes welled up. A tiny spark of hope appeared in my heart and for the first time in a long time, I felt a lick of happiness. Kesha sat with me for hours, listening to me, talking with me and just being there for me. In the weeks that followed, I got set up for home school, saw a psychiatrist and spent as much time with Kesha as I could. I returned to church to a warm welcome and felt happier than I had in a long time. That will be a year ago in December. My life has completely turned around. I’m on track to graduate early; Kesha is still my very best friend and my biggest support in life. I haven’t hurt myself or anyone else since my big breakdown with my sister. I haven’t returned to school and I don’t plan to. I don’t want that burden in my life now that I’ve pulled myself together. I am so happy being alive. I know how it feels to lose all hope completely. I know how it feels to have so much pain that you just want to die. I know how it feels to not understand anything; to be so confused and lost that you don’t even know who you are anymore. I know how it feels to have your life change on a dime. But I also know how it feels to be happy. To have true friends and people who love you for who you are.
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