If you were bullied at school, you’ve probably read blogs about it. You may even have written one yourself.
If you were dragged across the playground by your ponytail by a boy in the year above because you were singing a power ballad medley with your friends and you did the Meatloaf bit really loudly, you can probably relate to a lot of what I’ve been through. The power of hindsight should feature in comics somehow because it has honestly changed my life for the better.
Two years ago, I suffered one of the worst heartbreaks I can imagine. A friend I’d had for close to a decade chose to completely sever me from their lives after a series of difficult, confusing and gut-wrenching situations.
I’ve assessed this minutely, as is my tendency, and I honestly think that if I had the chance, I wouldn’t do anything differently. Ultimately I understand that things would have panned out this way eventually, whatever I did – because the issue/problem/whatever wasn’t with me, not really.
Nursing heartbreak such as this gives you a lot of time to fruitlessly mull over your words and actions, but also pans out your focus and allows you to take in something of the surrounding detail then eventually, the bigger picture as a whole.
As the light bulbs came on, one-by-one, a few other things had been illuminated; being bullied for 11 years had affected me in ways I never addressed or acknowledged. I built up an emotional skin of leather, I was unapologetically myself, I saw the frailty in other people and was empathetic to a fault, but I felt completely alienated by other women.
Most of my friends were guys and the loss of my one (of two) female pals had hit me hard, leaving me thinking that the types of women I naturally got along with (rather than just tolerated) were impossible to find.
In my quest to be my most authentic self, and my promise not to allow myself to be taken advantage of again, I let go of a lot of what I now know were my flaws. I stopped caring about the insignificant details of other’s lives.
I stopped worrying about things that I couldn’t control. I stopped getting so annoyed by people in general. I’ve always been a confident oversharer, but I began making an effort to be more open. Concurrently, I gave into the hype and downloaded Instagram. I worked out the hashtag thing and found myself quickly fascinated by a whole world of women – the likes of which I can honestly say I’d never really come across before. #comparisonfree #bodypositive #nobitchzone – is this real?
There are women in the world who like stuff I like, are happy and fun and have absolutely no interest in pitting themselves or their friends against other women in some weird pseudo-competition where there are no winners?
There are women who compliment you and mean it?
There are women who ask where you got your jacket from so they can buy it because they think it looks great on you, not because they want to make fun of you for having the wrong brand then blame it on you having no Dad (actually happened – my parents got divorced when I was 7).
So as I started to double-tap and follow, and started getting them back, I think I actually felt my heart sing. There are girls like me who were bullied, who are interested in tarot, who have tattoos and there’s probably even one out there who has an irrational hatred of oranges. I got followed back by women I’d followed, then we exchanged DM’s and eventually phone numbers.
I didn’t have a gang of galpals at Uni or a posse of females who all went on out first sun holiday together after final exams were over at school. But, what I have now is something that all of my experiences up until this point told me I wouldn’t have – the knowledge that not all women see others as their competition.
This discovery and my authenticity lead to me forming beautiful friendships with two more megababes who inspire, excite and support me in ways I honestly never thought possible.