I loved primary school. I was an enthusiastic worker who tried hard and was very eager to please. I was always the teacher’s pet. Always.
Creative writing and singing were my favourite activities, and I was that one annoying kid who got to be the lead role or head speaker in every single play and Christmas recital. My mum likes to remind me of the year I stood on stage whispering everybody’s lines to them, because I was the only kid who’d actually memorised the script.
In Standard Four (which I think is Year Six now), my class staged a musical version of Horton Hatches the Egg, and I got to be Horton. Mum laughed because I was the skinniest person in my class and there I was playing the elephant. I got to sing a solo. My grandparents came all the way from New Plymouth to watch me. I was so proud of myself; so comfortable in my skin and confident in my talents.
Things were different at Intermediate. I didn’t like the uniform, I didn’t like the teachers, I didn’t like the tall, scary boys in my class. When I was 11 some boys shamed me into shaving my legs, when I was 12 I cried in my bedroom because the other girls had breasts and my chest was as flat as a pancake.
In Year Eight I was constantly rejected by the girls in my class. They all went to the bathroom together and talked about pashing and periods, and they made it very clear I wasn’t cool enough to go with them. I sat at the back of the classroom by myself. I made friends with a boy called Kieran, we made each other laugh so much, but after a while he stopped speaking to me because the other kids told him I was a loser. It was a sad time.
My parents decided to send me to an all girls high school. I was placed in the top stream and although I struggled to keep up with my peers academically, I made a bunch of friends and had a lot of fun. I became best friends with a girl called Kat, and we literally sang everywhere we went. At the beginning of class our teachers would always say, “No talking,” then, as they’d pointedly stare at Kat and me, “or singing!”
Despite the songs and laughter I still cried in my bedroom, in the bathroom, whenever I had a moment to myself. I was the strangest mixture of happy and sad. I remember confiding to Kat one night that I felt like I was always wearing a mask, always acting, and when she was unable to relate I felt more alone then ever. It was a confusing time.
Half-way through high school my parents decided to move from Palmerston North to Tauranga.
My first day at my new school was a nightmare. I got taken into my first class in the middle of a lesson. Everyone stopped and stared at me. Nobody smiled. The teacher asked someone to be my “buddy”, but when the bell rang for lunch she walked straight past me, acting as if I wasn’t there. I spent the hours break sitting on a bench, alone, being harassed by a group of students who told me I was a geek because I didn’t smoke.
My second day was only slightly better, although I was again put through the agonisingly embarrassing procedure of being paraded in front of the class because I needed a special friend. It was so humiliating.
Anyway, I made it through the year, but was miserable, so when I went back for Year 12 I decided I was going to reinvent myself. I stopped doing my schoolwork, stopped talking to the group of kind but nerdy girls I’d been friendly with the year before, and basically tried my hardest to be cool by getting drunk and talking shit. One weekend my parents went away so I invited a few people over for drinks. Those few people told other people and those other people brought their friends, and even though the majority of them hated me openly, they had no problem coming into my parents’ house and having a good time. Unfortunately, their version of a good time was pouring drinks down my throat until I was blacking out, and then taking photos of me with my dad’s camera, and spilling bright red drinks all over the brand new carpet. Oh, and after that, when I went back to school on the Monday, this bitch-faced four-eyed cow decided to write a letter to my best friend telling her what I “looser” I was, and how she shouldn’t be friends with me because I looked like a horse. Nice.
So yes. Basically, my school life went from happy to sad to happy to sad, and then I left school because it was shit and now I wouldn’t go back there if you paid me. I do, however, have recurring dreams that I have to return to high school. It’s not fun.