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My Bully is Me

Julia Schemmer

When I was in the fourth grade, I didn't care about how I looked or how I dressed. Instead of wearing frilly dresses with Mary Jane shoes, my typical attire consisted of a t-shirt and track pants that swished when I walked. Unlike my friends, who had their hair in braids and bows and headbands from Claire's, I wore my rib-length hair down with my oily bangs from the California heat. I was happy with who I was.

However, there were girls in my grade who sought to "reinvent" my look. Embarrassingly, they bought me the latest outfit from Limited Too, and they gave me lessons in makeup, boys, and social conduct. I was their charity project, and the final result would be even more disastrous than its beginning. I am seventeen years old now, and while my troubles no longer consist of twelve year old girls pressuring me, I still think about that moment often. I wish I could forget being called "Buckteeth" or "Four Eyes" but I can't.

I'm a lot different than I was in the fourth grade. My once wide and enthusiastic smile has diminished into a subtle and pained half-smile. I wear heels to school, I don't leave my house without red lipstick, and my nail polish impeccably matches my outfit. Yet within me longs for the Julia I once knew, the one so hopeful and indifferent to the opinions of others.

My bully is me. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but the words I tell myself kill me. Why do I try so hard to fit the mold of others? Why is being content so difficult to do? I look in the magazines, and once again the voices of my friends fill my ears. Don't walk with your mouth open, Julia. T-shirts are not acceptable attire for a lady. Wear makeup so guys will think you're beautiful. One day, I will look in the mirror and feel confident. There will be no sadness, and I will know that I have everything I could ever need. I tell myself to keep hoping, dreaming, and believing in the day where the words of others will no longer sting, and I will find myself living in freedom from the expectations of people. Until that day, I will fight.