I am a firm believer of the events you go through positive and negative affecting your character later in life. A few events that I believed help to shape who I am today occurred in elementary school.
My first clear memory of this place started in the “cubbies”. The cubbies became a fierce battleground where we stowed away our coats, book bags, and lunchboxes. We were each assigned a hook and a shelf to store our possessions whilst in class doing very important first grade activities such as learning cursive (a skill I never found particularly useful outside of writing my name on a credit card slip). My cubby was the first in the long row due to them being doled out in alphabetical order by last name. My cubbyenvironment was pretty reminiscent of any other first grade girl. I had a pink Barbie backpack, a pink Barbie lunchbox and I’m sure the appropriate outwear for whatever season we were in. While school shopping with my mom I thought Barbie themed school supplies were the way to go since I was six years old and happened to be quite a fan of playing with Barbies. Little did I know having anything to do with Barbies after kindergarten was a huge faux pas. Consequently, I was given a new name, “Barbie girl” by the merciless six and seven year olds in my class. The majority of the bullying occurred during recess and while we were in the cubby area. This was just the tip of the bullying iceberg when it came to the rest of my elementary and middle school years.
For a physical education project later on in elementary school we were assigned to make a poster showcasing a sport we enjoyed. I choose tennis, one of the few sports that I actually like participating in. The poster itself was well constructed but there was apparently a majory flaw I somehow managed to overlook. During elementary school I preferred to make my Gs and Ys with a curve under the line instead of the uniform diagonal extending from the middle of the letter. This combined with the spelling of my last name “Boyer” prompted the kids to think I had in fact written the word “booger”. Being dubbed “Ashley Booger” for quite a while was pretty silly in retrospect. Of course I did try to defend myself even going as far as to point out the fact that their insult made no sense due to the incorrect spelling of the taunt. The words: “booger” and “boger” are not the same. At this juncture in time apparently my peers did not recognize this or were just too ruthless to care. The being said, to this day I am sure they are the people of the world that drive me insane by using the wrong form of the words “to”, “too”, and “two”. Rants about my personal pet peeves aside, I did very well in the spelling bees throughout school due to the fact I actually cared and learned how to spell words correctly. This trait was obviously not something the majority of my peers made a priority.
The bullying stopped briefly in fourth grade when my father passed away in January of 2000. By fifth grade I suppose I became fair game again for torment. The fact that I am a sensitive person is probably what made me more susceptible to the harassment in the first place. I did not have many friends so recess was not very social experience for me. I would sit on the benches and keep to myself reading whatever book I was into that week. I enjoyed my solidarity because I was safe from my tormentors playing a rousing game of kickball several feet away.
The same patterns of bullying followed me to middle school. I however made a really good friend the first day of sixth grade. She was in my class and had red hair. We had a mutual friend so we sat together at lunch. To this day we are still best friends and have been there for each other through everything. However the harassment still ensued. I concocted a seemingly logical solution in my mind one day. I told my mother that getting clothes from a store called Limited Too was the “cool thing to do”. I personally thought that by outfitting myself in this clothing I would fool them into thinking that I was in fact “cool”. I grew out of that phase when I realized wearing a set including sparkly lime green capris, a shirt, and this fashionable jacket did not make me cool. In fact, it transformed me into a “kiwi”. I was also prescribed glasses in seventh grade that just added to my already very relevant problem of getting ridiculed by the ruthless seventh graders of Muhlenberg middle school. There were a number of other issues throughout my school years but these happen to be the most vivid memories in my mind. Growing up trying to be “cool’ was a huge mistake.
“Cool” is not real. There is no gauge to measure “coolness”. “Coolness” is all in your head. If you are still a slave to this false notion of “cool”, stop.
Stop trying to be “cool” and start being yourself, I can guarantee you will be significantly happier.
That being said, I welcome any and all of your childhood horror stories via comments.