What Doesn’t Kill You

Katherine - Phx, Arizona
Entered on May 12, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Three days before my graduation from high school, I firmly believe that what does not kill you will only make you stronger. Though it is cliché, this trite phrase explains how I survived my last semester of high school.

Public schooling has a way of making people feel different, or unaccepted. There are the select few who find themselves comfortably nestled in a clique, but the rest are sentenced to the worst form of solitude and mourning known to man: being “uncool.” I have known that I was not exactly “cool” since an early age, but it never bothered me. I had my token “semi-cool” friends, and we enjoyed our elementary and middle school days.

High school marked a new era in my life. These four years were when I discovered that most of the female population at my school disliked me. At first, I was called a flirt. Then, by the time I was a junior, the name-calling elevated to titles not fit to print. Being as sensitive as I am, I cried sopping tears over being so detested. I brooded especially over the notion that some of these girls used to be my friends. I read old, fond yearbook signatures, wondering what I had done to deserve this sudden hatred. However hurtful, this did not kill me.

I endured and ignored the dirty looks for the first semester of my senior year, knowing it would soon be over. My few girlfriends (who were also shunned by the pack) and I stuck together, empathizing about the meanness of other girls. Second semester, I truly felt like an outcast. I was accused of being involved in a cheating situation, which is the highest offence in the high school constitution. Though I pled not guilty, the flames of rumors burned through the halls, all-consuming. I pined for the simple mean looks and petty insults behind my back of the prior semester. There was no mercy; I had supposedly committed high treason.

After five months, the accusation no longer mattered, but the reputation had stuck. I was not being called a cheater, though. I heard “slut” called after me in the halls and watched my property be vandalized. First, a picture of mine mysteriously acquired devil horns; then my car was painted with hateful phrases and keyed. Every day, there was news of girls talking badly about me in my absence. Finally, at my senior prom, I naively thought the hostility had reached its peak and had begun to decline. Then, as my date and I walked out, I heard the repulsive sound of a girl pretending to vomit upon seeing me. “Ew,” she uttered, her eyes glued on me, “that girl is disgusting.” I felt like I was in a movie. This could not be real. I followed the advice that had been given to me over and over: just ignore it. As we continued to the car, I heard them calling at me across the street: “Ewww! Ewww!” I have never been so publically humiliated and hurt.

Certainly, I harbor sadness and have cried many times. Hurt is not the strongest emotion I feel, however. I am actually thankful for the boot camp, ladies. I am now the toughest 5’3’’, 100lb girl in the world. That is why I believe that since the actions and words of these young women did not kill me, they have made me stronger.