Thursday, July 18, 2013


This is a post that I have contemplated writing for quite some time now. The nature of my blog has always been very lighthearted and fun and I have gone back and forth on whether or not to touch on a dark subject like bullying. But after doing a lot of thinking and contemplating, I've decided that it's time to share my story. 

The purpose of this post isn't to ask for your sympathy; in fact, please don't feel sorry for me. The bullying that I went through in junior high and high school is nothing compared to what so many others go through and tragically take their own lives over. The purpose of this post is to help someone. I'm not sure if there are many (if any) high school students who read my blog, but if there are, I want to stress that it does get better. It gets so much better.

My Story
If you're a regular reader here or know me in real life, you know that I am a unique person with a very distinct personality and sense of humor (I know a lot of people don't really get my humor but at least I can crack myself up, right?). I have always been that person on the inside but it took me close to 20 years to fully show it on the outside.

In elementary school, I was always really outgoing and enjoyed being the center of attention (that actually never changed--I did show choir and speech team all through high school and now I'm a television reporter). I also had a really good group of friends and got along well with my classmates so I never had a real care in the world. During my 4th grade year, I started gaining weight and became heavier than most of the kids in my class. It was never really an issue to me (I didn't see myself as being heavy) but one day during a game of tag at recess, I was tackled by a kid who got up, brushed himself off and told me "Sorry.. Piggy," as he walked off oinking and laughing. "Piggy?" I thought to myself as I picked myself up off the ground. I couldn't comprehend why we would call me that; I didn't see myself as heavy at all! I was able to brush the incident off and didn't really think about it again until a few years later.
The years rolled by and my family ended up moving to a small town at the beginning of my 7th grade year (my parents purchased an engineering company; this was the first time we'd ever moved so it was a very big deal). Truth be told, I was excited to move! This was a chance for new adventures, friends, etc., and I couldn't wait for it all to begin. 

About two weeks after moving, I got a really bad case of strep throat. I had never had strep before and it really knocked me down and I was out of school for nearly a week. I went to the doctor, got a prescription, waited a few days for it to kick in and then was healthy again.. until about a week later when I'd contract it once again. Yes folks, I got strep every other week for almost two and a half months. It. was. brutal. And I was missing a lot of school because of it. *this is beside the point, but I ended up seeing a specialist who gave me a prescription that got rid of my strep once and for all--I still to this day wish they would have just taken my tonsils out. I still get sick all the time and I swear it's because of those swollen bacteria traps at the back of my mouth* One day in gym class, I had a few of girls approach me about where I had been and why I was missing so much school.

"You're pregnant, aren't you? That's what everyone is saying."

Pregnant?? Why would she even think that? I was 12! You had to be older and married for that! 

"No, I'm not pregnant! Why would you even think that?"
"Because you're always missing school and you're super fat. You should hear what all the guys have been saying about you."

I couldn't believe it; I was speechless. I tried so hard to hold it together during class but I finally ended up losing it and running to the locker room (as I was running out, I heard people laughing and saying that I was just emotional because I was pregnant and that I was too fat to be running). It just so happened that my mom was volunteering in my brothers classroom that day so I went to the elementary side of the building (that's how small our school was--the elementary, junior and senior high schools were all in the same building) and cried. My mom was absolutely livid. She went straight over to the gym, pulled the teacher aside, told him the situation, took me to the principal's office to report it and stood by me for moral support the entire time (my mom has always been pretty great). The girl who made the comment had to meet me in the counselor's office, we "talked it out," she apologized and that was supposed to be the end of it.

It wasn't. 

Things just got worse. Two different girls started relentlessly picking on me, throwing my gym clothes into the toilet, calling me horrible names, picking on the way I looked and dressed, spreading more nasty rumors and so on. My self-confidence and self-worth were shot. I was really blessed in that I had a good group of friends and got along well with almost everyone in my class (with the few obvious exceptions) but I became very quiet and kept mostly to myself.

7th grade year finally ended (thank God) and I was ready for a change and what would hopefully be a brand new start. Over the summer, I began to quickly grow taller (and slim down), but I was growing so quickly that my spine couldn't keep up and I developed Sheuermann's Kyphosis. *I won't get into that too much right now but my spine basically became really deformed and curved to where I couldn't stand up straight and had a hump in my upper back--I eventually had to have surgery to correct it.* Guess what nickname I ended up with because of that? If you guessed "hunchback," you're right! I got that nickname from a girl on our volleyball team right as we were leaving for a game. I tried so hard to just blow it off but it cut me really deep. My best friend, Jen, caught wind of the situation and proceeded to confront the girl about it (thanks Jen) but I'd still hear people making comments and laughing about it. 

Between being called fat, ugly and a hunchback, I began to develop a terrible self-image which lead to the infamous black jacket years (8th and 9th grade). It didn't matter what time of the year it was, I was wearing a jacket and jeans. Go figure, this only lead to more comments about how poor my family must be since I was always wearing the same thing but I wasn't about to wear any less. Ooh, but the jabs at my family didn't end there. A guy in my computer class decided he needed in on it too and started making comments about my parents (whom he had never met/couldn't have picked out of a lineup), my brother, etc. He would also call me an ugly idiot, but I could handle that better than the comments about my family.
By the end of my freshman year, several of my bullies moved away or dropped out (more on that in a minute..) so things began to slowly get better but I noticed myself becoming a person I didn't know or like. I was really good at shutting things out and started to become very controlling of everything around me. I had my group of friends in high school and I just stuck with them and tried not to interact with anyone else at school when possible.

I went off to college planning for a new start but I was still really shut off, judgmental and defensive; I was an angry and bitter person and I didn't like it. My sophomore year of college is when I finally decided that something needed to change and I began taking the steps to do so. I transferred to an out-of-state college (where I didn't know a soul), started making new friends and becoming the outgoing and driven person that I am today.

High school will not define me. I will define me.
I'm so happy about where I am today; I am a caring, confident, outgoing, fun and compassionate person with a much kinder and forgiving heart. I am crazy blessed by my husband, family, friends, job, cat (you had to know that Bitsy would come up at some point in this post) and community--I'm a stronger person now than I was ten years ago and I pray that I'm somebody my kids can talk to and confide in.

What ever happened to those kids who picked on me? Well..
  • The girl who approached me about being pregnant dropped out of school our freshman year because she became pregnant (not going to say anything..).
  • The two girls who called me names, threw my clothes in the toilet, etc. both moved away and got pregnant in high school (still not going to say anything..). Actually, one of those girls did a complete 180 and really changed her life around--she is now a really sweet person who is happily married with kids and I'm happy for her. 
  • I have no idea what happened to the girl who gave me the nickname of "hunchback" but I understand she had some family problems so I pray her life has become more peaceful.
  • The last time I saw the guy who made all the comments about my family was when I had to go inside to pay at one of our hometown gas stations.. he didn't say much as he rang up my order but I was very friendly and smiled the entire time. He really hasn't changed a bit but for his own sake I hope he someday will.
If I could give advice to kids or teens being bullied now, it's this: things really do get better. High school is such a difficult time in most of our lives but once it's over, it's over. Don't let high school define you or your life; teenagers are stupid and don't think about the things they say and the consequences it could have. If you're a victim of bullying, please talk to somebody; you are not alone. Talk to a parent, friend, mentor, teacher, counselor or somebody who you trust--they can help. If you see someone being bullied, step in and be their friend--talk to them and find out what is going on. If you see bullying in action, stick up for them or find somebody who can help.

Something that I have noticed is that many schools don't offer any sort of anti-bullying campaign or awareness program; my school never had one when I was there. There are so many awesome campaigns and activities out there and I think it's a shame that some schools don't take advantage. Two programs that I have researched and recommend are The Kind Campaign (love these girls--this is a great program for one person or for an entire school) and Rachel's Challenge (this program was started by the parents of Rachel Scott, a student killed in the Columbine shootings).

My hope in writing this post is that I can help at least one person; whether directly or indirectly. I appreciate you all taking the time to read my story and hope you have a wonderful rest of the week. The Friday Funnies will be live tomorrow at 8am (CST). 



  1. Schools are a cesspool for kids making other kids feel bad so that they can feel better about themselves. My grandmother alway told me, and I have always told my kids that " Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome". That is a sad commentary. Love ya AnaB, and you are at the top of the heap now. ;-)

  2. Remembering the bullying I went through in elementary school and even by "friends" in middle/high school makes me want to homeschool Quinn so bad.

    You're are SUCH a nice person, I just can't even believe that any one could be mean to you. I don't wish anything bad on others (usually) but it's hard to not be a little happy when you wind up better off than your bullies.

  3. How brave of you to share you story! You are so right with, its does get better! Thank you for sharing this, and lets all remember how important it will be to treat our children kindly and fairly and help them be positive and kind people. We can turn this bullying around by starting from within!

  4. First of all, good for you for sharing your story.

    Second of all, kids can be cruel. So, so cruel. I have to wonder what each of those kids was going through at home? I feel like a lot of bullies are not dealing with very good home situations. I almost feel sorry for them. They had to learn the bullying from somewhere, right? The only thing we can do is teach our children to be kind and loving and to stand up for others if they see them being bullied in this way.

    All of that being said, I definitely can agree with Sabrina - it's nice to wind up better off than the people who made your life incredibly difficult.

  5. I had a similar experience. I was called "the nervous system" and "big bird." they told me those names were really for someone else so they could talk about me in front of me. there was one girl who would tell anyone new to the school not to be friends with me. etc. great post annie. good for you for getting past it!

  6. Girl, I'm so glad you posted this. I too was bullied when I was in middle and part of high school. In fact, I transferred high schools because I was being bullied so much. Knowing this makes me want to meet you even more because I can tell that we have things in common. :)

    You are so right, these bullies will not define us, we define ourselves!


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