I didn’t have the best time at secondary school [FYI: our ‘high school’ is from age 11-16/Year 7-11 if you’re not from the UK] and in my recent poll, you wanted to see some more personal posts from me so I thought with the time of year – back to school! – this would make a good topic to talk about. This is actually an old post from September 2016 that I have updated and rewritten.
In 2006 I started at secondary school. It was a huge step, as I went from a small primary school that consisted of 90 people to a huge comprehensive of nearer 2000 people. Even so, I was excited and eager to make friends and have new experiences.
I was clever (I actually had the highest Year 6 SAT scores in the entire year) and generally the smarter kids at school don’t tend to be the most popular. I didn’t keep up with the latest trends and was considered quite weird. I was a UK size 10-12 and was considered fat and I wasn’t beautiful like the popular girls, so I didn’t have the greatest time. It was a rough time in terms of people calling me names and occasionally stealing my things for the first three years.
In Year 10 the school changed into an Academy as a last-resort measure to improve the school’s OFSTED ranking. I had a group of friends I felt fairly confident with, had my uniform tailored so it made me look slimmer and I was pretty happy. It was then that I met my first boyfriend. Let’s call him Jim. The relationship wasn’t necessarily abusive, but I would be made to feel very jealous and obsessive due to his actions, his friends hated me for ‘taking him away from them’, he had anger issues that he sometimes took out on me and I was sure that he was cheating on me. It turns out he was. One person I was certain about, but I know there were others. Of course, as it was school, everyone knew 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 when I realised I didn’t have the same feelings anymore, 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 and invited me to into 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 him cheating on me with. I had a few breakdowns in the middle of lessons and embarrassed myself in front of many people, including the people who were bullying me. 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 psychopath. 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 and everyone turned against me. I felt so alone all of the time but decided to just concentrate on my GCSEs and get on with the last term at school, which I did and I ended up with really great grades (A*AAAABBBBBBC) and a place at 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 after-party – I had never been invited to a proper party before and I ended up getting quite drunk and falling home at 4am. At that after-party I was threatened with physical violence (she was known to carry a knife) by a girl who had been my main bully over the past few weeks. Luckily I talked myself out of harm, plus there was around 50 people witnessing everything.
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 and 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 11 (who was 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.