After growing up on sparsely populated islands, moving to the larger city of Lancaster in the north of England when I was around eight years old was quite traumatic for me. School suddenly became much less friendly and I struggled to adapt. I would cry a lot then kids would make fun of me… it was like a vicious circle…
I remember well when it all started: I was at primary school when I was eight, and two of my older sisters who were at the same school suddenly weren’t there on a particular day—they were on a school trip. In the playground I started looking for them and couldn’t find them, and I remember starting to cry because of it. This caused some amusement with the other kids who laughed at me, and that in turn caused me to cry more… I remember teachers telling others in the class about people with “thinner skins” who were more sensitive than others… that didn’t work, for sure.
I swiftly became known as a “cry baby” as I literally was crying at school at least once a day and more often than not, two or three times. This was something that continually inspired others to make me the brunt of their jokes. Other things like an accent that was completely different from that of Lancaster didn’t help: I was seen as the posh kid, which helped to further put a target on my head. Understandably I guess as kids can be cruel to an easy target.
This would continue for years. By the time I was 13, I was pretty much on the verge of some sort of breakdown: another kid just needed to look at me for me to burst into tears, and they knew it. One of the worst moments came when I was 12 and pissed myself in class as I was too afraid to ask to go to the toilet. The teachers understandably became tired of it and rather exasperated by it all, and I don’t think anyone in my family really knew what to do. The only solution that was came up was changing school. And indeed, two primary schools and three high schools later, by the time I was 17, I was only just starting to get that mystical “thick skin”. Still seen as strange and alone, with zero confidence to really speak with people… but… at least I wasn’t crying all the time.
In the midst of all of this, I remember when I was ten not being interested in girls, though that swiftly changed when I turned 11 and went to my first high school. In spite of being deeply unpopular and certainly not cool in way whatsoever, I became infatuated with a girl two years older than myself… so much so that I saved up my pocket money to buy a £10 ring for her at a jewellery store. We all got on the same school bus and she lived quite close to me. One day after we got back, I went to my place via hers to knock on her door and give it to her. Needless to say, my affections were not returned, though at least the ring was given back a few days later.