Ahhh, High School! Such unforgettable fond memories. High School were my glory days. SIKE! High School was pretty dreadful for me at times. Of course, I had days when I had fun and made many great memories; yet, there were moments when my peers tormented me. One of the most significant memories from High School had to deal with me being slut-shamed. A lot of pain and heartbreak came from that experience, but I later found ways to grow from it.
This story starts as the typical High School dramatic scenario. A friend and I both liked the same guy. Typical, right? Pretty much the guy was playing us both. He would speak to us, and I am sure a lot of other girls at the same time.
I can’t speak for her experience, but I thought he was the ONE when I talked to him. And the one to me at the time meant my future prom date! I would spend countless hours on the house phone under the covers at night talking to him. I remember when I finally got a cell phone. I would use all my unlimited night time hours talking to him in whispers about how we loved each other. Eventually, I would learn it was all game, but that’s a whole different story for another blog… And boy, is that a long story.
I often spoke to my friends about how much I liked him. Then I realized that one of my friends was a little too close for comfort to my beloved crush. She always had little side jokes with him and always would do things to get his attention. I would snarl with each interaction I seen between the two of them.
I started to notice our night time could speak to me less and less in school hallways. I also saw a change in my friends and teammates on the cheerleading squad. They started to give me awkward stares and limited their engagement with me. My mind wandered in so many places. I would often think about what went wrong with my relationships with my peers and me. I saw people whispering about me but I wasn’t sure why.
One night, I finally got up the nerve to call the guy and ask him what happened between us. He told me my “friend” said to him that I was messing around with other guys, including his friends, over the summer. I was shocked and confused. I immediately started to cry over the phone because it wasn’t the truth. He hung up on me after telling me he was dating my so-called friend now. I was crushed. I cried myself to sleep last night. I woke up that morning with a tear-soaked pillow. My poor little teenage heart (thank God I’m over that!)
I thought after making it through the night that the worst was over. WRONG AGAIN! I started to get more of the cold shoulder from my cheerleading squad. I only had one ally, my best friend. The seniors on the team would look down on me and whisper about me. I heard one of them call me a hoe to the other girl. I felt so out of place. I even spoke to the coach about quitting.
But that wasn’t even it. Because I now had a “reputation,” guys started to throw themselves on me, literally. Guys would pretend to trip to press themselves on me. EW! Some would ask me about my “head game” and laugh in front of their friends. I even got a lot of unwanted “pictures” on my phone.
There were times I wanted to run away and hide from it all. I tried to use my voice and let people know that I wasn’t like that. But, chatter behind my back was way louder than the truth that came from my mouth. I felt helpless.
It took me a while to change how I saw myself. I often would mask my sadness with jokes and being the class clown. I felt like being funny quirky made me less wanted by guys, so I would use that to cover my hurt. After a while, it ended up working; people spoke less and less about me. I felt like I can finally breathe. Yet, I still was wishing I could face the girl that started these rumors about me in the first place.
In the journey of becoming who I am today, I have learned to forgive people. Not for myself, but because you never know what people are going through. People do not do things for no reason. In High School, a person’s insecurities and past trauma can be displayed in gossip and bullying. I will never forget what happened to me and the scars it left on my self-esteem. I still forgive that girl for what she did. Now that I have matured, I believe that she might have dealt with her pain and insecurities. I had to look inside myself to see her perspective. I need to empathize with her past and trauma to have to move forward for myself. I couldn’t hold on to that grudge forever. I am now free because I let go of once was.
As women, we should learn to stand together. But, we have been in positions where we see each other only as competition. We can compete in friendly ways. I, yet, am in the business of competing with myself and myself only. All go through the same things. I have learned to start seeing the beauty in each other. We need to start forgiving people for what they have done to us. But we also need to see it as a lessoned learned. I chose forgiveness because I wanted to take back the power I let that person once have over me. I can own my story, my words, my emotion, and move forward from the past. No one can ever put back to that feeling in High School. I have decided to live my truth, and no one can take that away from me.