If you’ve read my post ‘dear young holly…‘ you’ll probably have gathered that I didn’t have the greatest time at secondary school. [Side-note: Americans – secondary school is five years long and you begin at age eleven/year seven and finish at age sixteen/year eleven. It culminates in two years of GCSEs which are exams and/or coursework in every subject you study. I ended up with 12, all A*-C grades]. I’ve decided to tell you a bit more about my time at school. I’ll try not to go on for too long!
In 2006 I started at Littlehampton Community School, also known as LCS. It was a huge step, as I went from 90 people in the entire school at Primary School to nearer 2000 people. Even so, I was excited and eager to make friends and learn.
But, I was a nerd and did well in school rather than try and become popular or look, er, nice, so I got bullied on-and-off for my entire time there. It was either that I was fat (I was a UK size 10-12), had curly hair, was weird, clever or had no friends. Mostly true, so it wasn’t very creative but it was still pretty rough. Luckily I never had any physical bullying other than people stealing my stuff every so often.
In year ten the school changed into Littlehampton Academy as a last-resort measure to improve the school’s OFSTED ranking. I had a group of friends I felt fairly confident with, and wore a fitted blazer which made me look slimmer, so I was happy! It was then that I met my first boyfriend. Let’s call him Jim. The relationship wasn’t abusive but I would be made to feel very jealous, his friends hated me for ‘taking him away from them’, he had anger issues that he sometimes took out on me and I thought he was cheating on me. It turns out he was. One person I was certain about, but I know there were others that I never found about who they were. Of course, as it as school, everyone knows everything about everyone, so it was difficult when people would tell me things about my relationship that I didn’t know. After eleven and a half months, I asked to take a break. I hadn’t really ‘loved’ him since a couple of months before but we were stuck in our ways and I missed him awfully. He moved straight on.
The rumours started. They were everywhere and they were horrible. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I felt ill all the time. My school work was going downhill. Teachers would give me funny looks in the corridor or invited me to their office for a chat. I knew Jim had started most of the rumours and I knew he was seeing the first girl I was worried about which meant I had a few breakdowns in the middle of lessons (it was then I realised he had been cheating on me) and embarrassed myself in front of many people. The worst rumour was that I had lied about being pregnant, then faked a miscarriage. This made me feel sick, because I knew it was Jim who was trying to make me seem like a heartless cow. I could neither confirm or deny the rumours because no matter what I said, they didn’t listen. I got called awful things on a daily basis. I felt so alone all of the time but decided to just concentrate on my GCSEs and get by. Which I did, because I ended up with really great grades (A*AAAABBBBBBC) and a place at Chichester College to do my A-Levels.
In April 2011 I got the opportunity to go to Sri Lanka as part of a volunteering team and I won’t go into it in detail (I’d be here for hours!) but it was honestly the best experience of my life and really helped me get out of the sad, dark rut that I had found myself in. I spent two weeks with some lovely people and actually felt happiness for the first time in months.
School ended with Prom, which was pretty awful on its own but great because we got dressed up and had an afterparty – I got drunk for the first time and went home at 4am which was quite an experience. I liked my dress but I wouldn’t wear it now. I think it’s the same for most people!
Secondary school was awful, but it wasn’t all bullies and ex-boyfriends. I did make some friends and have a laugh, even if I didn’t get invited to any parties. It’s just five years out of my life where I got great grades at the end of it (which is the most important thing) and didn’t succumb to drug, alcohol, or nicotine addiction like many others in my year. Even Jim is married now, to someone he started seeing at the end of year eleven (one of my friends until that point!). We grow up, we move on, we create our own lives and forget about school. If you’re reading this as a student and you’re having a rough time, just know that it ends and feels so insignificant once you start your actual life.