Since today is #PinkShirtDay, I wanted to share my story.
I’ve never had the best memory… in fact, my short and long term memory are both terrible. I can be losing my mind trying to find my cell phone only to discover it was in my back pocket the entire time.
I also can’t remember much of my childhood, only having vague memories of feelings and emotions, and some weird specific memories of events that somehow left a distinct mark on my mind. Like the time I was maybe 2 years old and came home from a trek to the grocery store with my parents, and plopped down into a corner, stuffing my face with a pint of strawberries.
When I was in Grade 4 or 5, I had a group of friends I’d hang out with. I can’t even remember all of their names, but there it was me, Angela, Helene I think and another girl or two.
Every day at school, we would gather at the beginning of the day and decide who we were going to ignore for that day. Yes, IGNORE. We would pretend we couldn’t see or hear that person for the entire day.
I can’t remember if we all gathered and picked a name out of a hat, or if there it was an idiotic calculated decision based on an action or words that person inadvertently said.
Every day, we switched who we picked on. One day it was me who would be tossed aside, like a banana peel. The next it was Angela who would be intentionally avoided. The next it was Helene. And so on.
Why the heck did we do this? Why did we purposely reject one another if we were all friends? I don’t remember the whys and whats… but I do remember the feeling.
I dreaded the day it was going to be me. I remember feeling like an outcast that entire day at school. The girls would be hanging out, huddled together in the school yard by the playground. I’d hear them giggling, their heads thrown back and their mouths wide open – the sound of their laughter echoing slow motion in my mind.
I would try to seek their attention with my stares, but they would see right through me. It was as if I didn’t exist. The feeling of being snubbed – by girls who were my “friends” – was perplexing. But what was even more baffling was that we did this to each other.
I don’t remember telling anyone about our mean-girl “game”, whatever it was. I don’t recall how long it lasted. But I still remember that terrible feeling of being completed overlooked. Rejected. Scorned.
Back then, I don’t remember the term “bully” being used. Today, those stories would clearly be called bullying. Today, we would describe it as being the bully and being bullied.
I’m grateful Grade 4 or 5 didn’t leave a permanent mark on my self-esteem, as I imagine it would now. I’m even more thankful that my boys haven’t experienced that lousy feeling of being snubbed. I hope they never do.