A push-over. That's what everyone probably thought of me then. A meek and geeky push-over who couldn't fight off her bully. In this case, the bully's name was Andrea*. Andrea and I were classmates, but we weren't exactly the best of friends. We were the same age, and we were neighbors, too. But that's as far as our similarities went. Andrea is Ms. Popularity: vivacious and strong. She's pretty, funny, creative, and very stylish. She can also be "nice"-especially if it would work to her advantage. Andrea has that amazing ability to sweet talk her way out of anything. (More like Ms. Manipulative, I should say). I, on the other hand, am probably the class's official wallflower: quiet and timid... and a little nerdy, I guess. I would rather be burrowed in my books than mingle with the "in" crowd where Andrea belonged. I didn't see anything wrong with that. I didn't see anything wrong with wanting to be me. Unfortunately, Andrea did.
Andrea was good at a lot of things: cheerleading, volleyball, dressing up-not to mention batting her eyelashes for a free (put item of choice here). She was also good at making me feel lousy about myself. Andrea never failed to mock me every time I passed her way-whether it was about my baduy clothes, my "big" hair, or my acing an exam. I'd often hear her wonder aloud why people liked her very much while they hardly noticed me. Once, she managed to "accidentally" spill some juice on my English paper. She apologized (when everyone was looking), but only after making a scene and blaming me for being so stupid. I remember feeling jittery whenever my dad picked me up late after school. That's when "the attack" of Andrea and her posse would usually happen. (Sometimes, just the sight of them was enough to make me pee in my pants.) When she wasn't insulting me, Andrea was ordering me to buy her sanitary napkin or bond paper. And I would always, always do it out of fear, and in the hopes that she finally would stop bugging me afterwards.
Things took a turn for the worse when Bryan entered the picture. He was our classmate and was one of the nicest, not to mention cutest, guys in school. Andrea was very interested in Bryan, and did not waste time in letting everybody know. Bryan was nice to all of us in class-geeky old me included. He was helpful when classmates had questions about a lesson (and Andrea unusually had a lot!). I had very good grades in English so I guess that was why Bryan always volunteered to join me in my library visits. Then one night, I received a call from Bryan. I assumed it was about the lesson since he always has been the one so enthusiastic in asking me questions during our study sessions. Well, he was asking all right-but he was asking me out. I didn't know how to react. I was confused. I mean, until that time, I didn't know how Bryan figured in my existence. Mostly because I knew he shouldn't even figure in my existence. He was Andrea's guy. Suddenly, I felt even more scared. Scared that Andrea would find out, scared that she would make life even more hell for me! Of course I turned him down with the excuse of being "too busy." If Andrea learned of this, I didn't know how she'd react-and I had no intentions of ever wanting to find out.
After that incident, everything changed. I don't know what rumors Andrea told, or how many people she brainwashed, but people would start whispering to each other and flash me dirty looks whenever I passed by. One time, I overheard two girls say I was a snake for stealing Andrea's guy, and I was a flirt. They said I was only pretending to be quiet, disinterested, and mahinhin. I felt sick. I couldn't believe the lies I was hearing. There were some outrageous stories about me which I had to bear with. It reached a point that each day I'd wake up and I'd have painful knots in my stomach. I dreaded going to school, frightened at the nasty things I might experience yet again. I was so unhappy, even my grades suffered. And it didn't help that Andrea wouldn't let me live down the incident.
Weeks passed, and the bullying continued. When I no longer could stand what was happening, I sought help. It was difficult in the beginning because I didn't know whom to trust. I didn't feel comfortable telling my parents, so I went to Ms. Patty, our level's guidance counselor. I figured she would be objective. I told her about my "crisis," and she just listened the whole time. She let me cry, talk, and then cry some more. It felt good to be able to pour out all the pent up emotions I'd been storing inside me all these years. Approaching my guidance counselor was probably the best decision I've ever made. She made me realize I was being treated that way because I was allowing it. And she was right. I realized I didn't have to deal with Andrea and her bullying anymore.
A week after the "incident," I encountered Andrea in the hallway. She bumped me so hard while exclaiming in her usual catty tone, "Girls, did you just feel a snake in the air?" Her group all laughed in response. Normally, I would've caved in and dashed out to cry. But I was tired. Tired of trying to ignore her, tired of being afraid of her, and tired of being made to feel unhappy about myself. So the next best thing I did? I mustered every ounce of courage I had, walked up to her and simply said in the coolest tone I could, "You and I both know whatever you're saying is not true. Please stop and leave me alone." With that, I turned around and walked away-without ever looking back.
It's been a year since that happened. Andrea and I never became friends. She still snubs me whenever I pass by, but at least she's stopped deliberately being mean to me. And you know what else? I finally found my own set of pals-friends who are ready to protect me from people like Andrea. With them, I found a voice, and for the first time in my life, I experienced total acceptance. I felt free... free to finally live my high school life just the way I want to.
Andrea never failed to mock me every time I passed her way-whether it was about my baduy clothes, my "big" hair, or my acing an exam.
I remember feeling jittery whenever my dad picked me up late after school. that was when "the
Attack" of Andrea and her posse would usually happen... just the sight of them was enough to make me pee in my pants.
*Names have been changed
Click on to the next page to find out how you can spot a bully.