In the 38 years that I’ve been living on this beautiful but becoming increasingly fucked up planet I can only think of one occasion where I’ve really felt like I’ve fitted in with everyone else. A time where I felt like I was Mr Popular and I was the one person that everybody wanted to hang around with. I was 18 at the time and had just transferred to a new college because my time at my previous college had become untenable due to bullying. Yes despite having spent pretty much all of my years at school being bullied and made to feel like I would be better off not living anymore, and nobody doing anything about it, I actually thought that once I’d moved on from my frankly miserable and largely suicidal school years that things would change and I could get on with my life. Clearly, that wasn’t the case.
I remember receiving threats on my mobile at that time informing me that if I dared to come back to that college again they, (Those responsible) would make my life a living Hell or, even worse, kill me. “We’ll follow you to the station and push you in front of a train” they threatened.
The thing is I had already concluded in my fragile mind that there was no point telling my family or anybody else in a position of responsibility that this was going on as they had let me down so badly during my ordeal throughout school, leaving me to be subjected to years of being punched, shoved to the ground and kicked, spat on, burnt and made to feel worthless. So I had to try and deal with this all on my own.
I remember sitting down in the hallway at home with the Yellow Pages and working my way through calling every college in the area. I’d decided that I wasn’t going to let the bullies ruin things for me again this time and was determined to try and transfer my place on my college course to a different location.
After a number of rejections I finally struck gold. One particular college was more than happy to let me transfer mid-term so long as I was prepared for the fact that I would find it incredibly difficult to make friends and fit in because everybody had already formed their friendship groups.
How wrong they were.
From the minute I stepped into my first lecture at that college as the new kid everybody made a huge effort to come and speak to me and get to know me. Seemingly there was only one friendship group there, that was the entire tutor group as a whole and they actually wanted me to become a part of it. Just for once in my previously miserable life I felt like I fitted in. These people didn’t just judge me on first impressions as somebody who was weak and not worth bothering with just because I was someone who was quiet and shy until you got to know me. They WANTED to get to know me, and it felt amazing.
I often think of that day in my life as a real turning point. Kind of like I was a completely different person up until then and the real me only came to life from that moment onward.
These days if you were to meet me for the first time you would probably think that I was quite confident, quite open and not afraid to speak out and say things how they are. But deep down inside that shy, quiet, battered and bruised, suicidal child is still hiding, desperately wanting to fit in and be accepted.