Moving is always a topic I have mixed feelings towards. I love traveling, but I always miss the people I have to leave. Sometimes it feels like a loop, a suffocating loop that you can’t seem to get out of. Starting over in new places can leave you feeling helpless or alone. I didn’t always have friends or people I could talk to about how moving felt. I have only had one bad moving experience with less to do with the process and more with fears I ended up unearthing.
The first move I can remember was when I was three years old. We ended up living in North Carolina for six years while my dad was stationed at Fort Bragg and then a year while going to school in Texas. I remember because I used to play on one of the Fisher-Price slides that were red and yellow. I had never known anything different until the end of my second grade year when we got the news that we would be moving. I was sad because I had to leave my friends, but I liked the idea of a new experience. One of my friends had moved prior and I had heard of how much fun they were having, so I was more excited than scared.
We would be moving to California, which had unique challenges. Both sides of my family live on the east coast, and that meant we would have to leave them behind. When I got to California I was the odd one out because of my heavy southern accent, but I was quickly introduced into an accepting and loving community. My best friend there was always so supportive and I was extremely lucky. I was practically living a dream, and when we got orders to move again, I was more excited than ever because I thought this move would be just like the last.
We were originally supposed to move sometime during the summer, but our report date got pushed up and I had to leave with about two months of school left. As a result, we packed our bags and moved to Georgia where my dad was stationed at Hunter Army Air Field. I was so excited and eager to get out of the house and make friends that I went to school less than a week after moving there. Needless to say, 5th grade became a lot different than I could have ever imagined.
However, California's grading system was drastically different from Georgia's. At the time, California was switching their grading system from letters to numbers and everyone had the same grade. We all had grade 2’s, which was equivalent to a B. I wasn’t too worried because I thought I would have no trouble with my schoolwork. It turns out that Georgia was further in the material than California, and I ended up having to make up about three months of extra schoolwork in two months. It may not seem to be a lot to some, but I, unfortunately, was blessed with the gift of worry. I worry about my grades a lot, and around this time was when I started. I had never had a problem because I just did my work and I got good grades, but now I had to work hard and pay more attention to get the grades I wanted. All of this would have been fine by itself, but unfortunately, I had more than schoolwork to deal with.
Please be warned, this next part talks about bullying and the effects it still has on me today. If you are uncomfortable with this topic, please skip ahead or stop reading. I do not wish harm on anyone in this wonderful and supportive community.
For about two weeks, I was “fitting in” and had made some friends. I had no reason to distrust these people because they had been nothing but nice and supportive. But after a while, I told a joke that offended someone, and they told all the girls about it. It was a stupid joke, but I remember walking into the classroom the next day and having no one talk to me. I apologized for whatever I may have done to upset them and sat at my seat. I continued to be ignored until one of them finally told me that I was no longer any of their friends.
I know this all may seem like stupid drama, but to me, it meant a lot. My biggest fear when I was little was not fitting in. I always strove to do what was popular because that meant I had friends. These girls continued to spread rumors about me, and other classes started to find out. Almost everyone in my class hated me. And this wasn't just petty dislike, this was true hatred. Only one of the girls in the group still hung out with me despite the rest of them threatening to shun her. Unfortunately, they ended up convincing her to stop talking to me. She left me alone, and that was devastating. I would come home almost every day crying and tell my mom what the girls would say to me. I can’t remember what they would call me, and honestly, I don't want to. This lasted for the rest of the school year.
I eventually found two people who had also been bullied by the same girl and befriended them. My mom stepped in and threatened to talk to the principal about the bullying, but all my teacher did was separate our seats and tell the girl to apologize. I don't blame my teacher for the way she handled my situation but I don't agree with it. After all, it was their word against mine and I was new. My position as a new student gave her no right to disregard what was happening. We had two weeks left in school, and after the girl weakly apologized I remember the teacher saying that “there simply isn’t enough time left in school to do anything.” The girls continued to bully me but almost never got reprimanded, only having to sit out of some field day games as punishment. I am not as angry about what my teacher did about the bullying I faced, especially with the timing of it all, but I am furious that she watched it happen to my two friends before me and did nothing.
Everyone who has been bullied or is being bullied has a voice. Don’t ever let anyone take your voice. It is the most powerful thing you hold. To this day, this experience has affected me in many ways. When I finally moved to where I am now, I met a group of friends that have done so much to help me. They have all been so supportive, and they understand what it is like to face what I faced. My experience may not have been as severe as some others, but it still matters. Everyone’s story matters.
I have done so much to help my mental health since I have moved here. I have had plenty of ups and downs, but this community has always supported me and helped me through those times. I recently had a bad experience where a kid on the bus started to call my name. They didn't mean anything bad but my mind went to bad places and I ended up crying once I got home. I was so scared of being bullied again that I didn't think that they might have just wanted to ask if I remembered them from a previous duty station, but that was their intent. The lasting effects of something that happened so long ago are not something to be taken lightly. I urge all of you out there to speak about your issues and experiences. If you can get help from a professional, I would advise it.
Just because this has happened to me doesn’t mean that it will happen to you. You may worry about it, but it is improbable for you to be bullied. Don’t let the worry consume you like many others before. Enjoy school and the many wonders it offers. Enjoy the town and the history surrounding it. The only thing you should worry about is being a kid. Now, I know I sound like a mom (I am the mom-friend), but I seriously advise all of you to just have fun. Don’t worry about fitting in or doing what is popular if you don’t like it. Do what makes you happy; it will help in the long run. Now, children, it is time for me to depart and leave you all with this: the foxglove is a flower that resembles insecurity but is also used in medicines. Your insecurities should help you embrace who you are, as a remedy.
Aurevoire mes chéries,
If you or someone you love is a victim of bullying, please reach out for help. If you don't know where to start, check out our Resources page for links to organizations that can provide help and support.