I loathed high school. I loved learning, and I, for the most part, enjoyed primary school. When I started, my entire primary school had less than 100 children, my high school had something ridiculous like 1 000, although it has shrunk in recent years, only 700 pupils now.
I do remember being shown around on a taster day, and feeling so excited, it look huge, but exciting, brilliant facilities, amazing gym, art facilities, library, Mr Mukhwana was the librarian, the first African man I had ever met, he was inspiring, telling us about Kenya and about different books, and all the facilities in the library.
I was really looking forward to learning, discovering more, and excelling at school. The reality was different. When I went to my first “home group” I discovered I had lost a friend, Penny had gone to a different class. All the boys from primary school had been split up, and I was with girls, but no boys I knew. This was to prove significant, because I became a target for bullies. I had been bullied in primary school, which though hard, was, looking back, largely good natured. I was called “spaz” which at the time hurt like hell, however, was partly tongue in cheek, because I was near the top of the class, I just couldn’t run! Or catch a ball!
But in high school it all changed. The bullying was no longer good natured, it was nasty and spiteful. At first I cowered, and then I cried, which of course, made it 100 times worse. Then the bullying became more sexual in nature, which was horrid, and uncomfortable. I had no idea how to deal with it, so I retreated deeper into my fantasy world of conversations in my head. A world where I was popular, appreciated, and valued. I retreated into books, into music, and into the library, it was my refuge.
I listened to bands that sung of injustice, of politics, I eschewed the popular drivel of the day, and fell in love with Aussie Rock. Only later did I find out that many of my bullies loved the same music and perhaps that could have served as a bridge.
I don’t really recall my first day, but I remember the last. A boy I fancied, who shall remain nameless, came up to me and said “I really wish I could have told you sooner, but, you know...”, yes I may not have known the words then, but to like the geeky girl would have been social suicide. And he gave me a big cuddle, and a kiss. And had it happened a few months earlier I would have been thrilled, but right at that moment, it just felt a shallow gesture.
I remember all the girls crying, and the boys back patting, and saying “we’ll keep in touch, you know, things won’t change, we’ll still be mates”. And me thinking, thank God in Heaven that High School is over, I couldn’t leave fast enough, and onto the world of college. In Tasmania you leave High School at 15/16 and go on to either college or work. I couldn’t wait to go to college and hoped that there I might find myself and my strengths.
And I wasn’t disappointed.