In school I never was the popular kid. In fact I was never a part of the cool group period and although I tried my damn hardest to fit in I just never did. Instead I was normally the target of bully’s and their bad jokes and it didn’t matter which school I attended (and I attended a few due to moving around so much), the story was always the same. I was the dorky new kid and that was the way it was.
I’m not sure what it was about me that first started the tormenting at my latest primary school – maybe I looked at the cool crowd the wrong way, maybe they just need someone to pick on – but it was intensely frustrating. The more I tried to just be a normal kid, the more they found something wrong with me.
The leader girl had an intense dislike for me. This in turn presented a huge problem for her because every sports carnival that occurred she was stuck with me thanks to my sprinting ability.
I’m not sure where I had gained this ability to so run well from because neither of my parents was sporting inclined. And to further to confuse the situation of my sprinting talent was the fact that I’m not tall either. I’m as what most referred to as ‘vertically challenged’. I don’t have a problem with my height because I’m tall enough to ride the fun rides at the annual show (carnival) but short enough to squeeze into tiny spots.
So a new girl had arrived at this school and the leader immediately liked her because she wore the right clothes and said the right things. Heck I liked her too till the leader girl got her claws into her and turned her against me. What really pleased the leader girl however was the new girls running ability. She too was a sprinter.
At school we practically did some form of running everyday during our PE (physical education) lesson. My class would gather on the oval during this time, dressed in our sports clothing and do our warm up stretches.
This particular day whilst we waited for our teacher the leader girl decided to set up a race between the new girl and I. I wasn’t keen on the idea but how could I say no and so I agreed. We lined up to sprint the 100m and on her cue we were off.
The new girl was fast. Not as fast as me but she did give me a good run for my money however I passed the finish line first much to the disappointment of the leader girl and her crowd.
“You nearly had her that time.”
“Yeah a few more metres and you would of won that race.”
It was disheartening to listening to these girls talk about me like I wasn’t even there. It was made even worse when the leader girl approached me with a mean glint in her eye and told me straight out that I had better loose the next race or she would make my life hell and in the next breath she announced we would be racing again.
So we lined up again and we raced and I was beating the new girl easily but just near the end I slowed down enough so she passed me. The crowd cheered at the result.
“I knew you were faster than her!”
“Congratulations new girl you’ll definitely be on the relay team.”
If I thought things would change for the better after that race I was sadly disappointed. The taunts were still made, the isolation still continued and on top of that I was made thoroughly aware of losing to the new girl at every opportunity. I slunk around for months with the knowledge that I threw that race and for what? Another way for the in crowd to taunt me?
Tryouts for the upcoming sports carnival came around and I was once more placed against the new girl. As we gathered at the starting line I looked over at the leader girl who glared at me in return, sending shivers of fear down my spine. I knew without her telling me that she would want me to throw this race like last time but the question was, would I do it? My whole body shook with nerves as the teacher told us to take our marks and I launched off the line when the cap gun was fired. The leader girl took to the lead almost immediately and the lithe one fell into second place. I was following close behind in third but right beside me was the new girl and then suddenly she wasn’t anymore, I was pulling ahead and before I even thought about it I was crossing the finish line ahead of her. The leader girl was livid and she made my life hell for it each and every day after but what she couldn’t take from me was the knowledge that I was still the third best female runner in my grade.
I guess the point of my story is this. If people have a problem with you being good at something don’t feel the need to make yourself less great at what you do just because they want you to. In the end we all run our own races but the only person we need to please is ourselves.