Bullying in High School: I Won’t Ever Go to My High School Reunion

Bullying is all over the news lately, and not just bullying in high school. As it should be, because people need to realize that it’s a much bigger problem than you’d think. No longer is it okay to tease someone mercilessly and then tell them to get over it; parents can’t laugh at their kids’ clever nasty comments or assume they’ll get through it unhelped, and school officials can no longer blow it off as “just a part of growing up,” because, well, the numbers of kids who aren’t surviving high school due to bullying are increasing and bullying in high school is at an all-time high.

I will be the first to say that the term “bullying” is over-used. Telling a news reporter once that she’s fat isn’t bullying. It’s rude, inappropriate, unnecessary and many more terms, but it’s not bullying. A high-school football team beating the other team 91-0 is not bullying; it’s simply a case of one team being that much more on their game than the other one. Misusing the term dilutes its real meaning and harms those who are in danger, physically and/or mentally.

Bullying, instead, is the continued, unceasing, repeated efforts to make another person’s life miserable. Social media hasn’t caused bullying, but it certainly has made it easier for people to bully and amplify it, and for people to say “wow, cool!” for fear of them being the next victim who shows up on YouTube.

bullying in high school

Being bullied beats down your self-esteem. It makes you fearful to step into the building and makes you not want to leave your house. It bleeds the joy out of things you’d normally love, and while you can ignore it to a point…only to a point…after a while, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. You just want it to go away. You may put the fake smile on your face or pretend you don’t hear, but trust me, it’s there and you know it. You say no to events and pass up on opportunities because you just can’t deal with *those people* one more day.

Bullying in High School Takes Different Forms

How do I know it? I was bullied in high school. No, I wasn’t beat up nor was my unhappy face shared via video for thousands to see. That doesn’t make it any less bullying though.

Why was I bullied? I was different. I was socially awkward, dressed in socially awkward clothing..as soon as I was allowed, I got a job and spent a lot of money on clothes, catching up, but that wasn’t until after school. By then, I’d dealt with enough negativity from my classmates that I’d lost any concern. Nothing I did was going to be enough.

I remember, vividly, walking into math class daily, dreading what a particular girl was going to say about my clothes that day. Sure enough, there’d be snickers and whispering, and if she didn’t realize I was within earshot, I’d hear outright “Can you believe what Donna is wearing today?” The last time she said something and knew I heard it, someone else had the decency to give her a glare and not respond, but others still quietly laughed at their funny little faux pas.

It was focused on my clothes, my straight-A nerdiness, and my lack of futile trying to change it, because I knew that if these particular “cool and popular” people, or wannabes, were going to stoop so low as to pick on my clothes despite being smart enough to know maybe it was out of my control, if I couldn’t materialize with a new wardrobe, it wasn’t going to change. So I stopped caring…or so I thought.

Years later, when the high-school reunion invitation arrives, I cringe. Why in the world would I want to go back to see those people? Why would I want to smile at people who either picked on me, laughed with those who did, or stood by and did nothing? I’d go so far as to say I don’t understand why some people that I hung out with — as I did have a few other friends, none in the “cool and popular” crowd either — would want to go back either. I shake my head at how they pretend to fit in now, appearing to either have forgotten they were teased too, or in the least, ignored. There still seems to be a mentality, even at our age, to be accepted, to fit in, to be seen as ‘cool’ enough to talk with those who ignored us back then; it’s unfathomable to me. High school was light years ago, we should change and be different people, yet some just…don’t.

One year recently, a Facebook page popped up about the upcoming reunion; I glanced at it, letting my curiosity get the better of me, and perused the quotes they shared. I got so far as the one that stated how the reunion brought back so many memories, how the nerds were still sitting together, the annoying people in another group…and this, from an adult in their 40s? Really? I’m not sure what was worse — the person who said it, or the person on the committee who thought it was appropriate to be on the invitation in the first place? Bullying in high school, 2.0.

Some people don’t change, I get that, but it was disappointing to see that the culture of judgment was still there in my graduating class. That one statement alone sums up exactly why I won’t ever go to my high school reunion.


Chances are, no one will really notice. I left no ripples. I attended no cool parties or participate in awesome crazy memories. I was just there. Instead, I left artwork on the library wall and names in all the books for grades, scholarships and awards, but no real bonding experiences. If I went back now, it would solely to be to say “Look at me. I’m successful. I no longer carry that baby fat. I sport a nice diamond from a loving husband on my left hand and my clothes have designer labels. And have you seen my shoes?”

But that approach isn’t me. (I personally don’t like those who look down on others, who forget that not everyone can afford $200 jeans and $50 Toms for each of their 2.5 kids. Snobbiness and ‘look how much money I have’ does not impress me. Good for you, but don’t try to put down others.)  Back in high school, I was tempted to try to be someone else to get in their favor, but now I realize how bad that is. I won’t let anyone make me be someone I’m not or doubt who I am. I like me. I know me. I’m okay with me. I won’t let anyone else give me a headache or the jitters or make me nauseaous. I won’t let someone else’s petty, small attitude rob me from enjoying something.

I picture going back in, saying my name and getting the blinky stare of “who?” from a lot of people. Then a few others would look me up and down and then continue their conversation. Others might suddenly pretend we’re close. I wouldn’t call it ‘fear,’ but I do hesitate to think what a few others would do; I have a concern, if that word works, that they’d be just as horrible as they were in high school, and that second would make me question again why I had spent all that money and time to attend.

My story of being bullied is small potatoes. My orientation, my color, my weight…none of those oh-so-personal sacred areas were teased…but it was still bullying nonetheless. My parents blew it off. School officials blew it off. I won’t make that mistake with my kids. I’m not an over-reactive parent, but I’m a pro-active parent. I’ve taught my kids what to do, who to seek out, and when to walk away. I also work on building their self-esteem in other ways so if someone does tease them — as my son with autism has been teased — they’ll be less likely to believe it.

Sadly, those methods won’t work for everyone. It’s a lot easier said than done. For some, the situation is so bad, and so out of hand that the ending is tragic. My heart goes out to the parents, and I hope that the bullies change. I hope more parents watch their kids’ Facebook pages and other social media pages, and that schools find a way to step in and prevent good students from hating what should be an enjoyable time in a child’s life.

If your child says they’re teased, ask questions. Prod. Poke. Ask more questions. High school isn’t necessarily fun 24/7, but it also shouldn’t be feared. Three or four years is a long time to wish away or wish to be behind you. I know I missed out on things because I just wanted it over with, mostly because of the bullying in high school. I look back now, after seeing these movies about high school and think wow, I wish my years had been that way. I remember nothing like that. I’m sure there were good things I missed because I didn’t want the nasty kids to be there, making it one more opportunity to have my attire laughed at or my voice teased.

I’d like to say I was beyond wishing bad on the main person, but to be completely honest, while I won’t wish bad on her, I hope she has at least at some point, thought back on her behavior. I hope she’s wondered why she did it — did it raise her status? get her more friends? distract others from teasing her? She wasn’t a cheerleader nor was she invited to every party; she was on the cusp, someone who used teasing me as a step into their world…yet I would say it never worked. Even the last year, she was still not a cheerleader and still didn’t get those invites she coveted. If I saw her, I’d like to say nah, I’d not say anything..but I might. I might ask her if those few years of picking on me made her feel better or achieved anything. Did she get anywhere? And would she want it done to her kids? Time wasted though. I’m pretty sure she’d deny it or that it was that bad.

Like the new Cigna commercial says, “Go you.” Be true to yourself to be healthy. Don’t let the nasty losers out there get to you. And when it’s to the point where you can’t take it anymore, please, seek out someone you trust, and don’t stop. Don’t suffer quietly. You deserve better.

In case you were wondering what happened after high school, things got better. I started college, got a job and became independent. With my independence came my confidence. I was free to be myself, starting over, without any baggage. I found I didn’t have a problem making friends and was able to choose who I wanted to spend my time with instead of trying to fit in just to not get picked on. As an adult now, I have a lot of friends and we have a lot of fun socially. I’m also quite happy spending time with my family, especially now that we own our home and can decorate freely. Sometimes hanging out on your patio with good friends and extended family is all you need.

Enjoy life. It’s short and no one needs to tolerate mean people.

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  1. I was “teased” in middle school, they call it bullying now. My mother worked long hours and my step father was a waste of human skin. My physical appearance showed that I had little support at home. I had to beg for my first bra because I was being teased so badly for not wearing one to school…..there was so much more that happened. Ugh.

    Though I was never teased in High School I hold ZERO interest in attending a reunion. I have no desire to reminisce over any of my school years-at all.

    1. Ugh…I’m sorry you had to endure that! While I think that the trite cliche of “it makes us stronger” is true, I sure would rather have not dealt with it! I’m super-cautious to use the word bullying, but I figure when teasing crosses the line into every day “Let’s see if we can make her cry today” behavior, it’s a new genre of misery for the victim. I’m with you — NO desire to reminisce over high school. At all.

    2. What a touching article. My high school life was horrible. Especially when I had pennies thrown at me at the high school talent show. I would of like to see those bullies go on stage in front of hundreds of people. They wouldn’t last a second.

      1. I am sorry that happened to you. There was a similar incident at a talent show in my high school where a very talented singer was laughed at. She finished singing and spent the rest of the day fighting back tears. I have never forgotten how evil those kids were.

    3. Believe me, I understand , I was picked on and bullied because I March to my own drum and did not blend it. May God bless you and family. Your friend, Julie Patrick

      1. I agree with you. If anyone is interested, I would like to be friends with everyone who had left a comment. Email: juliepatrick100@yahoo.com I was bullied and felt no love at church either. I feel everyone’s pain. I am married and have a job that I like. I have been married to my wonderful husband Scott for 25 years. I also have Christian Counselor that I go to weekly to help me deal with these emotional problems and scars. The biggest lie is when people tell you to get over it. It is not eady to do this. I declined a high school reunion because of too many bad memories.

  2. This article came across my G+ stream randomly. The headline grabbed me immediately. When I received my 10 year invitation I sent it back 24 hours later check “No, I will not be attending” and “I do not wish to receive any further invitations or correspondence”. My wife at the time had no idea why I got so riled up when I open that letter. There was absolutely no reason to go and like you, the only reason to go would be to gloat the I was successful,etc. Yes, I was bullied. It sucked. There is a case of bullying in the news now about NFL players. I have been debating this with the guys at my work for days. A few years ago a Girl in Massachusetts committed suicide she was picked on relentlessly. (I don’t remember her name).
    I am now 35 and had 2 sisters and a brother go to the same school. They have kept contact with people from H.S. and have gone to the reunions. I didn’t miss a thing.

    1. I’m with you! Totally not worth it and I don’t feel like I missed a thing. I even unjoined the high school group page on FB. No need. I don’t do the superficial and I’m amazed at how much of that there was in my class. (Maybe there is in all and the reason I feel like it was so much is because I was the recipient? Who knows.) Even a few that I still talk to love to reminisce and mention high school. I’m a big believer in it’s what inside that counts, not the career you chose, or if you chose one at all, and how much money you make. I can miss all of my reunions and feel great about it!

  3. Thank you for writing this. I identify with a lot of what you wrote: teased about clothing or awkwardness that I was never really able to overcome in my 6 years of middle and high school. The teasing led to isolation and peers ignoring me. That hurt almost as much- to have someone purposely make you feel that you don’t exist or are so below them that you do not deserve even a smile. I skipped out on all activities because I was not invited and did not want to be alone. I was a great student, but no friends. Recently I noticed a facebook page for my ten year reunion. Like you I want nothing to do with it. However that did not stop me from perusing the pages of old classmates. The same anxious horrible feelings come right back. (what scares me is some of these people are now counselors and teachers in these schools :s) It’s been ten years and I still feel awful about these people. Most seem happy and probably don’t give a fat rat about me. Or how they made me and others feel. It makes me angry; it’s really making me sad. I missed out on a lot, including normal social development. I notice the remnants of those 6 years in my personality- I tend to isolate and dismiss friendships for fear of abandonment or humiliation.

    I hope that people encourage and support their students, children and acquaintances who seem aloof, withdrawn and timid. It’s painful to go through life worried that any step you take will humiliate you and cause others to treat you badly because in the past, over and over, this had proven to be true. The effects of bullying don’t disappear once you turn 18 or 21 or graduate or become successful; at least not for everyone.

    Take time to treat others with kindness, no matter what screwball past you come from. It matters.

    1. Thank you SO much for your post. You have summarized my feelings, verbatim, and while I’m so glad to see when others really get what I’m trying to convey, it makes me sad. People don’t seem to get (or care?) the consequences of their actions. Even if the consequence doesn’t affect them directly, people should be mindful of how others feel. I see pictures of high school events I didn’t go to because I had no one to sit with, and parties I wasn’t invited to because I was ‘weird.’ While I’ve had a lot of parties that more than make up for it, I wonder if anyone ever knew I couldn’t wait to get away from it all. I’d sit and listen to them tease my shirt one minute then talk about last night’s amazing party, knowing I could hear it all. So mean, I couldn’t fathom it then and still can’t today, 30 years later. I doubt anyone who was mean to me or laughed at me ever thinks about it. I rest easy knowing they were wrong, it wasn’t me, but I sometimes wonder how they’d handle it if it happened to their child. My heart breaks for mine sometimes. Parents today don’t seem to instill in their kids that they need to teach them to be kind. Invite the left-out kid to their party. Invite him over to the house. Don’t let what someone did years ago because of a disability mean you have to ignore them now. My little guy would love invitations and no one gives ‘the different’ kid a chance, and I blame parents for most of it. We teach our children how to not bully and since so many think “well, at least I’m not bullying,” they think their job is done. I have tried to teach all my kids to give the under dog a chance. So important.

      1. I’m a 53 year old woman and it’s my 35th class reunion. Every 5 years the letter comes in the mail. I was bullied starting in the first grade and continued through high school. I was spit at. Hit over the head with a bike combination lock, I had gum
        Stuck in my hair, I had the shit beat out of by a boy, I had my books thrown in the mud, I sat alone on the bus, I was always the last one picked for the team, I ate lunch alone, the kids use to bark at me and call me a dog, I had a girl rip my hair out, I was getting picked on by the entire class I ran out of the classroom and went home. when I use to walk home the kids would throw rocks at me. It was bad and this went on for years. So today I was on Facebook and I saw the post for the class Reunion. I stated that I will not be going and this should come as no surprise. One of the bullies asked me why not. Really, I said think about how I was treated in school I was treated horribly and I will never attend a class reunion. Fuck why would I ? I don’t want to see any of these people. The names alone is enough to make me cringe. She came back at me I remember how aweful and sad but damit that was 35 years ago u should be the bigger person and come. Then she said we all changed. I’ll never show my face at a reunion. With that being said I endured a lot as a child and a young adult. I’ve made something of myself. I own a house, I have 2 children. Oh and I graduated high school. This didn’t break me almost as a child I wanted to die. The only good thing that came out of being bullied was it made me a very strong person. I’ve learned how to fight not with my hands but with my mouth. I don’t let anyone walk on me. I can spot a bully. Even in my adult life people have tried to bully me. I won’t stand for it. I put them in there place with fighting words. I always come up on top. I like the person I’ve become I’m not that bucked tooth four eyed little girl I use to be. I’ve turned out to be a beautiful woman with a kind and gentle heart. I’m strong and tough.

  4. This is the very reason I would NEVER EVER attend a school reunion!

    I am a woman who went to high school back in the 1990’s and I was bullied something chronic for years on end at high school and its left me with serious mental health issues that I know full well were caused by my environmental circumstances and would not have otherwise existed had I not gone through what I went through at high school.

    I was bullied because I had significant behavioural issues and social awkwardness in additional to my specific learning disabilities in certain areas, the bullying included name calling, some physical violence, threats of physical violence, sexual harassment, prank calls to my home, stones being thrown on the roof of my home (I lived next to the school oval) slanderous rumours about pregnancy and other garbage, bigoted remarks and/or intrusive questions about my sexual orientation (I am bisexual though I never came out back then) and racist remarks about my surname (I am half French and a French surname) and even people coming to my mother’s home and making up stuff just to get me in trouble.

    Ok I’ll explain the last bit a little more, there was a girl I lashed out at and took my stuff out on which I deeply regret now and one day she’d had enough and went and saw my mother about it, they developed a friendship which didn’t bother me really as this girl didn’t have a proper mother figure as her own mother had serious mental health issues and I knew the friendship was innocent. It it didn’t stop people either telling me that it was inappropriate or imply that my mother and this girl were having some sort of lesbian affair (my mother is as heterosexual as one could get and the girl had a long term relationship with a boy and was heterosexual to my knowledge too) and it is damn embarrassing.

    Sadly this this girl was also encouraging people to come to my home and speak with my mother if they had any “problems” with me and my mother entertained it all which destroyed my trust and faith in her and ultimately damaging our relationship, she was no longer my safe person and my home was no longer my safe place as it was all taken from me.

    At one stage I seriously considered reporting these people to the Police for harassment and I also considered reporting the school to the Department of Education because to my knowledge they were aware of it but didn’t do anything about it.

    Am I traumatised by it? YES and I have been for many years now but I’m slowly but surely getting through it and while I have gotten over the worst of it I will never be fully over it.

    My relationship with my mother is much better these days and I don’t have anything to do with anyone from school now nor do I ever want to again.

    As for school reunions I personally think they’re pointless and people don’t go for many reasons but it’s mostly because they’ve moved on, they are living their lives as they are now and some find it unnecessary to relive and dwell on the past.

  5. I know you wrote this awhile ago but I want to thank you for this article. I was recently invited to my 20 year reunion and have had barrage of memories from the 6 years I was bullied in school that I had pushed down until now. I am just starting to heal from the bullying/emotional abuse they put me through. I like you will NEVER go to a reunion and I asked to be removed from the contact list.

  6. I too had 2 girls that ruthlessly bullied me in high school. I did have some close friends the next year that knew of this situation. Now I see them conversing on facebook about the mini-reunions, these girls that I considered to be my “friends” talking with this one particular bully of mine. I see her with photos of her kids and I wonder…what would she do if one of her daughters were bullied as she did to me? I ignore their requests that I attend their functions. I am not going to pretend that she and I were friends in high school. Those situations affect me to this day and that was 35 years ago.

    Ironically, the other bully ended up being my husband’s first cousin. She and I had been friends prior to her hooking up with this other girl and deciding they would torture me. This now relative of mine has apologized to me for how she treated me, saying that had she remained friends with me and not hooked up with that other girl, her high school years would have been different (she ended up getting into all kinds of trouble). I say it was fine, that it didn’t bother me. While I am cordial to her at family functions, I still stay clear.

    thank you for helping me to see that I’m not the only one that just can’t forgive and forget…

  7. I nicknamed high school “Hell School” because for me that was what it was. Middle school was purgatory. I named them as such because the descriptions fit perfectly.
    I was everyone’s punching bag and between the two it got so bad it could be classified as torture, discrimination , and high level harassment and abuse. Nobody listened to me nobody cared, my ten year reunion would be this year and I’m not invited and I would not attend anyway. I was a year younger than everyone else, because when my family had moved up north I was a year ahead ( or more) of others my age and had been put into school early and boosted a grade. The reason they bullied and tortured me was due to many things beyond my control, it got extremely bad and affected me for at least five years after high “hell” school. Now ten years later ( with a college degree) I’m on my way to success, and the only thing most of those hell school people will ever see of me is my name. My name in the books I’m publishing this summer, my name in my designs , my name in articles, and my name wherever it ends up. All they will ever see of me is my name, because even those who were bystanders never did anything and so I’ve cut everyone from high school out of my life. But I will say this, those years of high school make for great dark creative inspiration, only really good thing to come from it.


  8. I chose to attend my reunion because most of my rich classmates thought I didn’t belong in “their” school. I wanted to show them that I won’t let their opinions affect me and that I do belong at my reunion, and I belonged at the school. So, even thirty years later, a lot of my classmates were still acting standoffish. It’s sad because some of these people are grandparents now, their bodies are starting to fall apart, but yet, they still want to be exclusionary and snobbish. They can’t let this go.

  9. Wow! I can really relate to all of these comments. I was bullied and/or socially isolated by classmates on and off since elementary school, but it escalated horribly by middle school and high school. I was teased, laughed at, and ignored. I had gum put in my hair on the bus after I was slapped and threatened with more physical violence by a boy that also lived next door to me. I was tortured so bad in high school science class that I left the classroom crying and begging the guidance counselor to put me in a different class. She told me that the ringleader was a kid from a really dysfunctional home so I should “understand” why he was like that. She agreed to talk to my teachers who than blamed me for the problems. I suspect the teachers didn’t know what to do with this kid anymore because they were always sending him to the principle’s office and the school administration did nothing. Rather than say that, it was easier to blame me for it because they were afraid of the consequences for admitting that they needed more support to deal with this kid’s behavior. I can tell you that as a student I was really quiet and a teacher’s dream as far as behavior. It would have been laughable that they blamed me if it wasn’t so tragic. Initially, the guidance counselor refused to put me in a different class to get me away from this kid, but she did suggest that I would benefit from being put in the “emotionally disturbed” class. The problem is that the kid who bullied me was in that class too! After I ran into the office crying more than once, they finally agreed to let me switch classes. I was ignored by the snobs in the new class, but at least they left me alone. It gripes me to this day that the guidance counselor had more compassion for that kid’s dysfunctional home life than she did for me as a victim of his bullying not to mention blaming me for it all! I also was targeted for bullying by a bunch of “mean girls” in my class, and one girl, in particular, seemed obsessed with making my life miserable for the last seven years of school. To make things worse, my older brother was targeted for even more severe bullying in his class, and I had kids in his class harassing me for being his sister. It affected my brother so bad that he failed all of his classes, was almost suicidal, and ended up dropping out of school. I made it to graduation, but both of us were emotionally scarred for years by this experience. My brother and I were very quiet and shy by nature, and I don’t if that was what caused us to be targeted. But we were NEVER the problem that we deserved to be bullied that viciously. We have both accomplished a lot since high school, but I still have suffered from PTSD from the experience. I always got invites to high school reunions every five years, but I never could bring myself to attend. At my 25th reunion, my husband suggested that if I attended I may find it empowering to “confront my past”. I considered that, but I started having horrible dreams that I was back in school so it just proved to be a trigger for my PTSD. Recently, I spoke to one of the few people who I was sort of friends with in high school for the first time in years, and I asked her if she attended the 25 th reunion. She wasn’t bullied like I was, but she still had issues back then with certain kids. She said she did attend, and “I’ll never go again!” because “no one has changed!”. She used to be super skinny in high school, and she over heard some nasty remarks from former classmates about how “fat she got”. She also said that one of the “means girls” glared at her the whole time when she was having a conversation with this girls old BFF from high school because the BFF wasn’t talking to her. My 30th class reunion is in a couple of years, but I know now that I made the right decision not to attend.

    1. Me either. I agree with what you are saying 100%.I agree with you 100%. I am glad I have support in all this and I am not alone. I wish we could have a support group through email or Facebook or something. It may sound crazy, but I feel that I have made a bunch of new friends this morning. Thank you for your stories and God bless you.

  10. I was ripped apart in high school. From the day I started to the day I graduated. From the moment I got on the bus in the morning to the moment I got off in the afternoon. Reasons ranged from having thick glasses, railroad tracks on my teeth, bad acne, a below average physical appearance, and a name that no one would even try to pronounce correctly. Everyone had a different reason. Sometimes even teachers would get in on the act. I am still very uncomfortable in social situations; those rare ones I even go to. I always feel that any second, someone will start in on me. I’m that they don’t remember me, and I don’t remember their names, but I remember what they did. I wouldn’t go to a reunion even if Hell froze over. My hope is that I am one of the ‘lost’ alumni, but there is no way for me to check without giving myself away.

  11. Loved this article. I’ve never been to any of my reunions and don’t ever plan to attend any of them. Not going to tell you how long–a girl’s gotta have some secrets! *LOL*–but it’s been quite a while since I graduated. During those days, I took part in things like band, chorus, a class play–even a one year stint as a junior varsity cheerleader.

    But for the most part, I was treated as a social outcast.

    I was a shy, quiet person. Still am, to some degree. Until I found a few good friends from the class ahead of or behind mine, lunchwas usually spent in a quiet corner reading a favorite book or working on an assignment. My parents stressed the importance of–and expected–good grades. Deep down inside, I hoped to follow in my Mom’s footsteps & become valedictorian of my class. (Unfortunately, I didn’t meet that goal, but did graduate in the top ten percent.)

    Music, dance, and performing were–and still are–at the top of the list of my favorite things. Every spare minute wasn’t spent in front of a mirror primping to make sure that my hair and makeup were perfect. Most of my clothes were homemade because Mom thought it was cheaper to do that instead of buying the latest styles from expensive stores.

    OK. That last part is superficial. My adult, non-sewing, just go to the mall & buy that pretty shirt because you like it & it’s a good deal self freely admits that. But to the teenage girl who just wanted to be treated decently & not have the homemade knit hat her mother worked so hard to make swiped off her head every day on the bus, it’s a different story.

    The term “straight edge” didn’t exist at the time. However, it would’ve been a good description for me. I didn’t go out every weekend drinking or doping myself into a puddle of puke or screwing every guy in the halls in order to meet so called standard of “coolness” or “popularity”.

    Because of this people did make fun of me and treat me badly. Exhibit A: during my junior year, someone nominated me for the homecoming court. When the names were read over the intercom during homeroom and mine was called, I was honest to God shocked. But any joy in the moment was dashed when some people sitting nearby burst out laughing. I wanted to cry, but didn’t. (And if you’re curious, I didn’t make it past the first round of voting.)

    Exhibit B: Band was a big part of my high school life, but it didn’t provide a total escape from being picked on. There were a number of “mean girls” among the ranks. Like the one who would be sweet as pie to my face, telling me what a dedicated band member I was, while telling people behind my back that she “absolutely hated, detested and couldn’t stand” me. Or the one who marched in the rank behind me during one marching band season, screaming at me the whole time about how I was “always out of step & screwing up our field routines.”

    Throw in various & sundry snarky comments from others about how I was a terrible musician & that completes the picture. (Thank goodness for the chance to join the percussion line during senior year. It stopped a LOT of that crap!)

    Admittedly, it wasn’t the living hell some students experience (like the ones who often turn up in the news as the instigator of a school shooting or other act of violence). The very few people from that time I’ve stayed in contact with attended other high schools in the area. I met them through events like band competitions and choral concerts. They were simply nice, kind people who liked and accepted me for me. The even fewer people from my high school that I did consider friends & had some fun times with were either in the class ahead of or directly behind mine.

    For me, life really started in college. I was working on my music education degree & surrounded by people with similar interests. It was a small music department & for the most part, everyone got along very well.
    That’s also when I started doing theatre. Hand to God,I literally left my high school graduation ceremony & went to audition for my first musical, got cast and as the saying goes, the rest is history. Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to work professionally a couple of times and have done everything from ancient Greek tragedy, to Shakespeare, to musical theatre, to opera & even a couple of low budget horror films.

    It’s the people I’ve met through those experiences who mean the most to me. Not the person who says, “Don’t you remember me? We went to high school together! You do all those plays now! That’s so cool..but then you always were back then.” Many times, the person saying that is someone who treated me badly or made fun of me for being a creative person. That’s when I’d like to say “Really? Then why did you treat me like crap?”

    Over the years, when the reunion notices landed in the mailbox, they wound up in “File 13” (aka the wastebasket). My mom, in her eternal desire to have her daughter always seen as a lady of class & good breeding–bless her heart–tried many times to get me to change my mind. I heard all manner of pleas from her about this:
    “People grow up & change”
    “People forgive, you should too”
    “You should fill out the memory book form and send it back. Be proud of who you are and what you’ve done.”
    “I think there’s a lot of people who would really like to see you.” (That was said when the last one rolled around five years ago.)

    Yes, people can and do change with the passage of time. But that knowledge simply wasn’t enough to sway me. I won’t lie–there’s still some hurt at play. There’s the mean little part of me who says she’ll only go when she can waltz into the event with a Tony Award in hand & say, “Oh, you mean this shiny thing? The American Theatre Wing doesn’t exactly hand ’em out to people they consider losers.” Or walking in & saying, “I just got back from filming an episode of The Walking Dead. I got to be in a scene with Norman Reedus and it was awesome!” Hey, you have your “I’ll show ’em” fantasy your way; I’ll have mine. *LOL*

    I want to celebrate the people who are in my life NOW. The people who make the good days good & the bad days better. The ones who remind me that even though people can be completely & utterly wretched at times, they can also be incredible forces for change and goodness in this crazy, messed up world. The people who build me up instead of tear me down. The ones who accept me for who I am, warts, flaws, and all. The ones who actually show up and are present when you need them. Or if they can’t be physically with you, offer their love & support the best way they can. Some have been in my life for just a short period of time; others for longer. But they’re the ones who mean the most to me.

    And if money must come into the equation of celebration, I’d much rather spend mine having a good meal with good friends, going on a fun trip, or doing something meaningful with it, such as helping an arts group, our local Hospice organization, or some other organization focused on helping the community at large.

    My Mom was still living at the time of my classe’s previous reunion and when she would be out, would run into people from the planning committee. She insisted on giving my e-mail to them. (It was a case of picking your battles & that was one I knew I couldn’t win.) After a few messages, I sent a simple reply which said, “Please remove my name and contact info from your list. I won’t be attending.” No more, no less.

    The reply was interesting. “I’m sorry you feel that way. If you change your mind, we would love to have you.” The person who sent that wasn’t someone who was openly cruel or hostile toward me during those three years. However, she didn’t exactly go out of her way to be friendly either. Was there a realization of “hey, this is someone I wasn’t always very nice to in those days.”? Who knows?

    This is another reunion year. Someone in my class works in the same building with me and even though I’ve said to her in the past that I’ve never gone and never will? She passed my work e-mail on to the reunion organizers & I got a message about it. Same song, second verse: “Please remove me from your contact list. I won’t be attending.”

    I’m about celebrating the good stuff. (Like our fifth wedding anniversary trip to Hershey, PA which is going to be the same weekend as said reunion! Love and chocolate? Yes, please!) Not about reliving a time that, while dotted with a few happy moments & memories, was basically about being treated kinda crummy. So let those who want to get together & relive that time do so. I’m just trying to enjoy & live the life I have now. And for the most part, it’s a pretty darned good one.

  12. I’ve only very recently came to the realization (at almost 29 years old) that I’ve been bullied throughout my entire school career. Especially in grades 1-8. High school was a little different because I was able to branch out with hundreds of other people and completely ignore the bullies I’ve been stuck with for years, but part of me is, and will always be crushed by the fact that not a single person stepped in to help me.

    I’ve only very recently developed the mentality that I can’t give a damn about who doesn’t like me, because no matter what; there will always be someone out there who doesn’t like me for the way I dress, the way I talk (yup. I’ve even been bullied for the way that I sound), the way that I look, my sexuality, or what my interests are. I’ve been bullied by all of these things and then some for at least 7 years of elementary and middle school. I’ve had to deal with the exact same kids every. Single. Year.

    I still remember way back in 2nd grade, I was bullied because I wrote a really good story for our creative writing class (guess what? I’m an author now, so that will freakin show em’!) Every single student, INCLUDING the teacher, told me I did NOT write that story because apparently I was nothing but a loser who couldn’t do a single thing by herself. The accused me for having my mom write it for me, and my teacher interrogated me for hours trying to get me to admit to something to which I didn’t even do. She even had the audacity to call my mother at work about this. Let me tell you, she certainly got an earful from her! My mother always hated that old bat, and every now and then she’ll still mention what a horrible woman she was and how she hopes she’s dead by now.

    The bullying got increasingly worse throughout grades 7-8. It got so bad to the point that one teacher made fake transfer papers to every student besides me (which was a little embarrassing considering how I was basically singled out for being the bullied kid) that he would transfer every single one of those students to different schools if their behavior did not stop, and that he was going to call all of their parents. I’m not sure if he ever even did that part. You know what? The bullying continued anyway.

    Around grade 8 I developed serious self harm tendencies. I cut myself for 15 years and had myself convinced that it was just a way of coping with the difficulties of reality. I only stopped completely self harming in 2020 of last year. It was my very first year that I didn’t cut my skin even once. It was very addictive. Any time that something horrible in my life happened, I felt like I had to cut my skin open in order to feel something besides emotional turmoil. I just came to the realization that I spent most of my 20s cutting myself. I do not want this to be the case for my 30s. I want to learn how to help myself in healthy ways. I do not want to let the bullies or abusers in the world get the better of me. I want to do better than they ever could and I don’t want to feel selfish for thinking that. Neither should you.

    No, I do not forgive my former bullies and I never will. I don’t care if that makes me an awful person in the eyes of some because let me tell you something: They do not deserve my forgiveness for the hell they put me through. They’ll have to go through the process of forgiving themselves, and I hope that’s just as much hell for them as it was for me to get over the crap they put me through. Never feel forced to forgive someone who tried to ruin your life every single day for years on end.

    I am going to write my real name in this description only. My name is Alexandra/Mete. If you read this and if you were one of those kids who had bullied me, I hope everything about your life sucks. Goodbye. The end.

  13. I am so glad that I found this article! Just recently as of June 2021, I received a message from a classmate of a message stating that it’s a few days left to RSVP for our 20th class reunion. I didn’t respond but I pondered why would I get a message about it and it’s already at the deadline to RSVP.

    Years ago, I had always said if they had a Reunion, I wouldn’t attend because of the flashback memories of being teased, ridiculed, and laughed at about every thing. I had a run-in with a former classmate years ago, who obviously hadn’t mature of grown up internally, this person was saying ignorant comments about me like old times. I just shook my head, Lord thank you for growth in replying or responding back to this person and politely blocked this classmate. I had understand and accept that I fought too hard to be emotionally accepted by people who didn’t have a care in the world for me along with accepting who GOD made and love myself.

    The only person that I would want to see is my high school crush but I would want to spend time with her without the environment of my classmates around us, just me and her. I can relate to this article so much, thank you for bringing out some great points about why we shouldn’t feel guilty about the decision to not go to these School reunions. We have to be honest and true to ourselves

    After reading many blogs about the fake smiles, single curse, what are you doing now, why are you still single, it’s not my heart to invest in traveling to be around people who genuinely didn’t like me at all.

    I’m happy that I am sticking to my decision to not attend the Reunion, I feel great about it and I don’t have a sense that I am missing out on this gathering. I am appreciative to the fact that I have a special group of people that I love and look forward to seeing again, a Family Christmas Fellowship on my uncle side of the family, a group of people that love, accept, and welcome me with so much LOVE. It’s been since 2019 since I have seen my family cousins but I can’t wait to be around them again because they truly exemplify the positivity of love and warmth.

    I sincerely today don’t hold any grudges or feel anything against my classmates sincerely but I pray and wish them nothing but the best. I’m happy to share my related experience and please don’t feel like you are missing out regarding a School reunion. It’s my prayer that no one will let the wounds of bullying or vocal ridicule to reign in your life. I simply know that you will find those genuine, loving, and true friends and family that will love you for you.

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