Monday, November 24, 2014

The mistakes of a former mallgoth/baby bat


I have had many experiences in my life but one particular experience stands out. This experience, as horrible as it was for me at that time, helped shape the person I am today. In a lot of ways, you can say that I am even thankful for the people involved who did what they did and said what they said. This post is going to be a long one. If you want to skip, skip. If you want to read, read on! Hopefully, any younger gothling randomly searching the net could find some comfort in this post. This is really about how I was harassed and bullied by my peers when I was younger. The comments are going to be screened on this post because it is of personal nature. This post is probably going to be "troll bait"!

If I could teach my son one lesson in life, it would be to not give into gossip, to really do apply that "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" mentality. I would also hope and try my hardest to make sure he has the self confidence that I didn't have at that time to ignore the bad rumors and not retaliate. It just shows how far a bunch of kids would go to when it comes to that not Goth enough philosophy. Two wrongs don't make a right. I could have been a better person and walked away but I had to give into my angst.

This was around the time I was slowly coming out of the whole embarrassing baby bat/ mall Goth phase. I still made questionable wardrobe choices but they were not as bad as they were in the beginning. Don't get me wrong, they were still there, believe me, but I was starting to grow out of it...slowly!

Obviously, I was very touchy about being a poseur because I was just getting into and falling in love with the subculture. It also didn't help that I was friends with people that were much, much older than I was and were in the subculture for a while. It was helpful that these elder gothlings took me under their proverbial bat wings and helped steer me into a less embarrassing direction but it was very hard to keep up with them! I think it was more me putting that added pressure on myself to keep up with them than they were really putting on me.

Aside from my older friends who were in their early twenties, I was also friends with this one girl who attended the same high school as I did. She was alternative and we often hung out with another girl together. For their privacy sake, I shall name them Samantha and Amber.

The three of us hung out frequently, we often practiced Wicca together and all was good for some time, until one day, I started seeing this cute little gothling boy. It usually takes a boy to ruin a friendship and this is one of those stories. I was so happy and proud to show off my new darkly clad squeeze toy that I invited Samantha and Amber over at my house to meet him, after all, they heard me talk about him constantly.

Samantha was obviously attracted to my boyfriend, even admitting so and started to hit on him. I did pull her aside to confront her about it but she denied everything and implied I was being paranoid. I decided to drop it, not wanting to cause an argument, but a few days later, I confided into another "friend" about Samantha's behavior. It really did upset me she would do something like that because I thought we were such good friends! This third party told me that she thinks Samantha was jealous of me and that Samantha said I was really a poseur. Now being sensitive to the whole poseur business, after all, I was new to the whole Goth scene and took great offense to it at that time, I started saying how Samantha and Amber were poseurs all around. Don't ask why I pulled poor Amber in this mess but I guess I was on a roll!

I was fuming. Not only did Samantha hit on my boyfriend but she was telling people I was a poseur! Please keep in mind dear readers, I was about sixteen/seventeen years old at that time, this was the equivalent to the impeding apocalypse here! Today, as I write this, while listening to my son watch Scooby Doo playing in the background on TV, I can't help but laugh at the pettiness of the whole situation. Things sure have changed since then!

Anyways, I told Amber that I thought Samantha was a poseur and a fake. I told Samantha the same thing about Amber. I admit, I should have probably kept my big mouth shut and stopped speaking with Samantha but spreading those rumors made me feel better about everything. It made my own insecurity over not being Goth enough not seem so bad because I was doing it to someone else. Not one of my most redeeming moments, I know!

Obviously, the two compared stories and next thing I know, they both show up at my house to give me back my stuff. In turn, I returned their stuff to them.

Amber just pretty much stayed away from me but that wasn't enough for Samantha. Every time she saw me, she started yelling at me in the street. I admit, what I did wasn't very bright and I should have confronted her all along but while she was at my house to get her stuff back, she was civil with me. Here she is, from a safe distance, with her friends no less, yelling things at me from on top of her lungs, from across the street.


The gossip didn't stop. All my secrets I confided in her, she told everyone. Some people just stopped talking to me altogether. One person, I thought I was very good friends with gave me such a horrible cold shoulder when I ran into her. I asked her what I did to her personally. She called me a hypocrite and walked away! Alright, I admit, I probably got what I deserved here but that friend saying what she said and walking away from me, hurt a lot. I remember cancelling my plans I made for that night, turned around and went straight home. I spent the night listening to The Cure and bawling my eyes out in my room.

Thankfully, I had those older friends I hung out with downtown, otherwise, I don't know how I would have made it through this. It always feels like the whole world is out to get you but it is always only a select few that go out of their way to make your life a living hell. I was a shy person back then and when people would make a scene (i.e.: Samantha yelling at me in public places) always embarrassed the hell out of me. I used to get prank phone calls all the time too. I was constantly being harassed by whom I could only assume would be Samantha and her friends. That summer, I didn't want to leave my house in fear of running into her.

I also would meet someone around my age who went to the same high school (some from different schools even) and they would ask me about it! To this day, I bet people remember this whole incident and come to their own conclusions about me. I am not trying to get pity here, I have paid for my mistake many times over, believe me. I just feel for what I did, I didn't deserve to be harassed, especially with my folks who answered those prank calls her and/or her friends made in the middle of the night.

I remember getting panic attacks before I would leave to go downtown. I remember my dad and best friend at that time telling me that I should not let that girl control me. I have every right to go out and have fun and to just ignore her. The people who matter didn't believe everything that Samantha was saying about me anyways and just accepted that I was only human who made a dumb mistake. So what? I acted out in anger, I made a wrong choice. I hurt her and I paid for a hundred times over, time to move on! If I stayed cooped up, I would just show everyone that Samantha was right. I had something to hide. Yes, what I did wasn't right but let's be honest here, she was a lousy friend in the first place! She was really doing me a great service because the people who did care for me, stuck by me. I knew who my real friends were! I am so grateful for these friends who risked their own reputation (remember, high school, popularity contest) for me. I think if it weren't for my older friends and the select few peers who stood by me during those times, I would have ended up doing something really drastic and hurting myself in the process. It was nice to have people hold me up. If anyone of these old high school friends read this, I wasn't able to express it at that time but thank you. Being my friend meant a lot to me at that time and you have no idea just how much you held me up. While I may have not been able to fully express my appreciation back then, I sure as hell can today! Thank you! In my opinion, you deserve to be acknowledged over the "interwebs"!

School started again in the fall. I attended a different school but Samantha's best friend Rebecca (name changed for privacy) was in some of my classes. This was an alternative school and classes were very small. In fact, the whole school had maybe 75 students. It all started again. I couldn't walk down the halls without someone yelling "hypocrite" or "poseur" at me. I can only assume Rebecca told them what I did or enticed them to start harassing me. Again, lucky for me, I had friends from my previous school (as well as some new ones who ignored the gossip) who were also attending that alternative school with me. They stuck by me and I made it through. Halfway through the year, Rebecca dropped out and most people stopped following her example.

That year, I was nominated class Valedictorian and when it was my turn to give my speech so the class could vote for the best one, I told them I was declining the offer. I remember saying how everyone was telling me I was a hypocrite and that yes, I made some mistakes, but I wasn't a hypocrite anymore. I had nothing positive to say about my graduating class. They did nothing but judge me and be-little me all because of what one person was saying about me. They never gave me a chance. I suggested they vote for one of my other classmates, whom I respected very much. To my surprise, so many people clapped and cheered for me and  some even apologized to me! There were others who still laughed and ridiculed me but they were easily ignored and outnumbered. I was even asked by a lot of people (students and teachers) to reconsider my decision about not giving the speech. I stood my ground, I really didn't want to. They all voted for that classmate I suggested and I was so happy to see her give her speech during the graduating ceremony. It gave me a sense of pride that something good came out of all this mess. Little did I realize at that time, I gained a lot more than just seeing a nice person do a lovely speech. Despite all the horrible things that happened, I still studied hard and graduated with very high grades! I was one of the top students in that school! I never realized the full extent of my character, how strong I really was until I got older.

I want to thank you Samantha for making my life a living hell. For all the nights I spent crying, for the embarrassment, the public humiliation, for the harassment you caused me and my family because thanks to you, I got to see who my real friends were. I grew up and gained an inner strength that I never thought was there or even existed. Not only that, I learned to have tact, I learned what to say and what not to say. I still managed to shine even in one of the darkest times of my life. You and your friends tried to knock me down, for a while you did but I got back up and I became a much better, happier, and more self-confident than before. You helped show me just how strong and resilient I am! To this day, whenever I am faced with obstacles, challenges, fears, I look back at my teenaged self and realize that if I survived back then, I could sure as hell take on whatever the world throws at me now!

If any young person reading this is going through something similar, remember hold your head high and be true to yourself. Whether or not you did something to provoke the occasion, does not mean people have a right to harass you the way they did with me. If I can walk away from this, so can you! Keep talking to people, keep going out and don't give up. You deserve to be happy. Life does get easier after high school, believe me, and hang in there. Thank you all for reading.

Sylvie


10 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. While I can't say that I enjoyed reading your pain, I appreciate that you're sharing your story. The nice thing about mistakes (and we have all make them) is when we use them as opportunities to grow. I can't help but think about the alternative. I had a very close friend who was like a brother kill himself right before his 18th birthday (right before *freedom*, right before *it does get better*).

      I've spent a vast majority of my life believing I was never goth enough... or never good enough... or never (insert the feeling) enough. There was always someone who is better. The reality is there IS always someone who is better... but there isn't anyone else who is Me. I had my own little moments of validation. Because of that and the constant living-in-a-small-town-and-dressing-differently experience, I have become the person I am today. I'm grateful that I grew up in a world where the bullying couldn't continue on social media (because that didn't exist back then).

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    2. That is a very good point. I am also grateful that the we didn't have social media when I went through that whole ordeal. I am so sorry to hear about your friend.

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  2. I'm sorry you had to go through that Sylvie. That old saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" really is true. I know you are better person for having gone through this difficult period in your life.

    In high school I didn't have it too rough. I had a group of friends that I hung out with. I'm a little older than you are. Nobody called themselves goth and there was no such thing as a poseur. You were either a freak, a jock, or a nerd. That was your choices. It was the 80s (so think the breakfast club). I was the weird girl for sure. All us freaks hung out at the smoking area at lunch. The punk rockers, the heavy metal kids, the stoners, and the freaks. We were a motley bunch for sure. But we were all pretty accepting of each other. I was teased in grade six for a short period of time because of my red hair and a really bad haircut. I was the only natural red head in my school at the time. But by the end of the semester I grew out of the bad haircut and things were better. Grade 6 was also about the time I started to dress a little different. But I didn't care what people thought of my clothes. I wore what I liked.

    However I did go through a rough time a few years ago. So sometimes it doesn't get better after high school! I had a job at a store I liked. The job was something I really enjoyed but there was this really awful woman I worked with. She made my life hell and pretty much everyone else's too. She was the poster child for a narcissist. She talked about everyone behind their backs and caused a lot of problems for everyone that worked with her. She was nasty and abusive to all she met. And she was the assistant manager so we had to put up with it. She eventually got fired but I suffered with her abuse for over a year. When I look back at that time now I feel like saying thank you to her. She actually taught me to be a stronger person. I don't put up with much crap from anyone anymore because of it. I can easily cut out people that are negative from my life because I won't repeat the same mistakes twice. And I can easily see people for who they really are now. I think it's just because I pay more attention to the actions of a person and not just believe their words.

    So even though those years in high school were tough for you, you are a stronger person for it. And it was a very important lesson to learn. I think living an alternative lifestyle no matter what it is makes you a little stronger. We have to put up with stares and rude comments on a daily basis just for expressing ourselves. Learning how to deal with it and still stay happy and polite to others is a long road. But it's a journey worth traveling.

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    Replies
    1. First of all, thank you for reading my novel. Secondly, it is always the elder goths who were the most accepting and kind, which still holds true today, thanks to your lovely comment. It is very true what you say. It is true that when you live an alternative lifestyle, it does make you stronger.

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  3. Thank you for sharing. Although I had it no way near as though as you, having older, accepting, friends was a life saver. Meeting people who accepted me the moment I walked through the door, who actualy seemed interested in what I had to say and guided me in the right direction was like entering a whole new dimention.

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    1. Good for you. I am grateful for my older friends too

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  4. Thanks for writing this. I went through something similar aged 18, though thankfully without the full scale shaming and harassment. I'd always knocked about with 2 others girls who were good friends in their own way, but always made it clear that I was the spare part in the relationship. One of them started seeing a lad I was friends with, a really, really nice person - and she treat him terribly. I made the mistake of confiding how awful I thought this was to a 4th person, who was a bit of a stirrer. Well, she stirred all right. I got ejected from the group of friends I was in (I have to admit I made it much worse by snogging him publicly n the back of the bus after a night out which wasn't my wisest decision, but like you said, I was young).

    I was due to meet the two girls to go to the cinema, and went to the multiplex to meet them. When they saw me they walked straight passed me, and from that day refused to speak to me. I was very fortunate that I'd just started a summer job and was then off to uni, so my summer was very busy, but I did often bump into them at the bus stop as we lived very close. They then started sending me hate mail - I didn't find out about this until later as my mother saw it and binned it (it was on postcards).

    I got very stressed about it all - I wasn't all innocent in the fallout, but these things are huge when you're a teenager, and we'd been friends for 5 years. I'd always been the subservient member of the team, never allowed to talk to 'their' fancies.

    We now say hello to one another if we bump into each other, but I learnt a hard & valuable lesson from the whole experience. I also grew closer as a result to my now best friend, who I couldn't bear to lose.

    And what a brave decision you made, not to stand for valedictorian.

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    1. Thank you. I tried being friends with Samantha a couple of years ago though. We apologized to each other but with our differences, we went seperate ways again. It is funny how these situations shape us later on and how we learned such harsh lessons. It is like what Goth Gardener commented, it could of been worse, this happened before the age of social media. I can only imagine what kids go through these days. To be honest, I always felt like the outsider of the group when I hung out with those girls. Perhaps it was because I always got along better with people who are older than me. Even today, I don't have many friends my age and the ones I do I dont see too often.

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