Column: The worst years of my life

‘I enjoyed unconventional things, and was rarely able to find someone who enjoyed the same games or music I did.’


AJ Jackson

“Unfortunately, in my case, I was a social target for many bullies.”

I grew up enjoying school.

Of course, that’s every parent’s dream. All students spend eight hours a day, five days a week in a building that once was foreign to our childlike minds. School was an exciting new experience to look forward to every day.

I wished that had stayed true until the end of my high school career.

Bullying is truly an epidemic. Stemming from an early childhood teaching of, “I will always be better than you,” and shoving that onto other children. Back then, teachers could play it off as innocent teasing. Once you hit middle school, everything changes. Physically, mentally, socially and academically. Unfortunately, in my case, I was a social target for many bullies.

I’ve always been considered a weird kid, ever since elementary school. I enjoyed unconventional things, and was rarely able to find someone who enjoyed the same games or music I did. 

Not connecting with social norms at school is traumatic to a child’s mind, especially when you’re consistently bullied from elementary school up to your final year of high school. I always wondered why the other kids whispered when I was further away, or laughed when I talked about something I was passionate about.

Why is the “Warrior Cats” series so funny to everyone else? It was a serious deal between Aspen and I, why can’t you see that? 

How come none of you like the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” video games and fan-made songs like we do?

Why is it funny to bully other kids who aren’t socially aware of what’s happening? I wanted to be just like you too, so why when I pretend to understand your cruel words and conform to your idealistic standards you hold none of your other friends accountable to but me?

Of course, this escalated in middle school.

Girls thought it was funny to attempt to blackmail me with personal photos, even though I wasn’t aware of what each photo truly was. Vague posts on Snapchat about me, that took weeks of putting pieces together to realize the people I considered my best friends, actually seriously disliked me. I would go as far to say those girls hated me. 

If those girls happen to read this, your words still hurt to this day. What were jokes between the three of you, added trauma on top of trauma for me. It made me hate school more than I already did, and fueled the belief I would never be good enough to have friends who loved me unconditionally.

I bounced around friend groups all throughout middle school, before deciding at the end of my eighth grade year that being alone is better than being constantly ridiculed by kids who didn’t even know me. It has stayed like that ever since.

It’s not that I don’t have friends per say. I have a couple close friends online, as Cami and Koi are my best friends who are always supportive of any endeavors I stumble upon, and Adrian will always be my favorite childhood friend who’s stuck with me through thick and thin.

Despite my internal belief that I don’t deserve friends, I’m slowly growing away from that chronic thought now. Becoming closer to my friends in Newspaper, and learning that school could be OK, as long as I allow myself to be the most authentic version of me.