Imagine being popular one day, and then the next, you are the target of the most hateful and hurtful things imaginable. It's true for all of us, rather we want to acknowledge it or not. I hated high school, and coming from a small, redneck school in the middle of Wisconsin, I pretty much hated everybody. Teen years are not great, I would be insincere if I said they were the best of my life, but I have much to learn from those years. To pick one is like a parent picking their favorite child…deplorable. You have to comprehend; I was one of 36 in my class, and about three-fourths of them I knew since I was in diapers. You mess up once, everyone will talk about until the day you die (or move away); you achieve greatness, you're the coolest person in the whole world. The former has a habit to take more of a tax on a person than the latter. I have cried from pain, hurt, and embarrassment one too many times when I was junior. And at one point, it became too much for me to handle, and, like any petrified and naïve sixteen-year-old girl, wanted out of that life.

I was a tomboy since I was a toddler; always following my brothers around and hanging out with them and their friends. I become everyone's little sister inadvertently, so once I got into middle school, then high school, I knew many of the guys who were older. After my last brother graduated, I was left all alone, finally ready to be known more than just "Little Levy". But stepping into high school already knowing junior and senior boys and having a few schoolgirl crushes, ended up hurting me deeply. I "had to deal with" (according to the principal) the S-L-U-T etched into my locker until the end of the school year, and I tried desperately to cover it up with pictures, but in the end, they too, were written on with derogatory words that hurt me deeply: fat, whore, lesbian (only because I wasn't interested in dating), and many more that I dare not say. It was a lot to take as a fourteen-year-old. I tried to take the high road, kept my head held high, and continued to live my life like there was no interruption, since there was no help from the school faculty. But the farther I got into high school, and as my older friends started to graduate, I found myself in a predicament my senior year: I was a seventeen-year-old virgin, labeled a whore. The verbal exploitation was beginning to take a toll on my mental health.

I was raised a Catholic, and was taught that forgiveness of others was important to my spiritual health, yet, nothing I could remember could help me find to love myself enough after what society have said and done to me. The depression hurt, and I hid it from everyone: my parents, the teachers, even the few friends I trusted. No one wants to see a straight-A student athlete with issues. I've seen the news; those are the kids who aren't heard of. The depressed kid was the one that was a loner, didn't play sports, and hated everyone so much, that they wanted to hurt the ones that hurt them. That's wasn't me. I hated myself. What did I ever do to make the people who I grew up with, hate me? The coolness of the blade in my hand felt foreign and the feeling of great eagerness to feel the outcome of it. The first time the edge bit into my skin, it was an overwhelming touch. I was nervous and relieved; it was something that took the pain away for once. It would take a long time before I figured out that this was not a brilliant solution to an evanescent problem.

I was happy with my new little system I had. Anytime someone hurt me, rather physically or emotionally, I had a shiny acquaintance stashed away to make it go away and to take me to a happier place than where I was at that moment. I was in and out of abusive relationships (most of them emotional) and the bad habit that I had was the only way I knew. No one questioned the girl who was wearing a sweatshirt in July, even my parents where obtuse to what was going on my life. I mastered the "I'm fine" façade early in the game, and had many people fooled for a while. It took a guy I met online to show me that not everyone in the world is a poison killing the true me. He showed me that not all guys are abusive and it is possible to have love in a relationship. Finally I had someone that understood what I was feeling and didn't judge me, or that matter, speak ill to me. He showed me other ways to deal with the pain and because of him, I turned to reading and writing. I remember hoping that I would not lose this man; since he was the only one that I found that could help me learn from my past mistakes (ones that included a gleaming blade) and to grow on them. Little did I know that he was going to be the one I spend the rest of my life with?

As bad as this experience was in my life, I found that without it, I wouldn't have grown into the "smart, beautiful, and generous woman" I am now. The one person who taught me that there is more to life than hurt is now the one unyielding thing in my life, and he is chock-full of love and life. The scars are there to remind me of how "terrible" life was back then, but then I look at my life that is in the now, and realize that there is much more to life than what a bunch of teenagers think. I find the views of the world are askew: woman with curves aren't beautiful, deceit is the only way to get people to like you, and it's every man for them self. I found myself working in childcare at a young age, and, even if I was still damaged, told every child I taught that they were beautiful, unique, and special. Be that as it may, I don't want another child to grow up and experience the pain that I had. It saddens me, to see a beautiful face on the news and hear that their youthful life was cut short by their own hand due to the cruelty of the ones that are supposed to be their peers. My heart has grown tremendously after this situation, and I find myself reaching out to others in time of need. I know what it's like to feel on your own and that no one is out there for you. It took me four years to find the person to make it okay, but I learned you need to open up to people for help, and not assume that everyone will look down on you for what you have done.