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March 12, 2014.
After visiting the junior high school that I had attended a good 12-13 years prior, I decided to also stop by my old high school that I attended for four long years of my life. Looking back on it, those years seemed to have quickly went by, I mean, I can barely remember them now in great detail. However, once I passed its entryway, I was flooded with memories. Some good, and a lot bad.
At that moment, I remembered the days I was made to feel nervous and anxious. Those days I thought about; “Would today would be the day I would have to use the Snapple bottle I had packed in my backpack the night before for protection.” Yes, you read correctly. This is a sad reality of what kids sometimes feel they need to do in order to stand up for themselves – I was a teenager and I felt like I couldn’t just let them pounce on me without at least attempting to protect myself – I had to put up a good fight.
Looking back, I must say… I am so, so, sooo happy I never had to (or more like I didn’t have the balls to) use it. Because truth be told, that bottle could have done some serious damage. Damage that I would not dare wish to carry out on another human being, even if they were making my high school years miserable. I know this today but that wasn’t my concern back then. And now that I look back on it, I feel like I carried it more as something to ease my mind so that I was able to get through the day without the constant worry of someone messing with me… it made me feel secure. I never had the intention on using it deliberately, it was just the plan Z, a “just in case”… And although I only carried it maybe 2-3 times (a week tops) during my entire four year attendance there, there is no doubt that there were many times that my best friend and I did not feel safe at school. For unknown, concrete reasons, some girls seemed to have been pursuing a vendetta against my bff and myself.
This was a problem then and it is even a greater problem now – in today’s schools.
After speaking with the counselor at my old junior high school, I was made aware of the bullying that goes on, which I would say is even worse than what I endured. Due to social media “mean girls” are able to taunt kids beyond 3pm. So even when school lets out for the day, the bullying does not stop (as it did when I was in high school – actually sometimes we had confrontations on the public transportation that we all took and relied on, but that was not often). And even beyond that, it has the potential to even follow you to other levels and phases of life, like college and grad school. This ugly truth is not okay. The exact opposite should be happening – the amount of bullying cases should be decreasing and our youth should feel more safe than their parents felt in school. That is how progress is made.
With that said, this is why I do what is that I do. I want to help young girls. I want to reach out to those who are without guidance, afraid, full of doubt or hurting so that I can not only share with them my story but so that I can hopefully inspire and prevent them from feeling a need to carry a Snapple bottle in their backpack as protection. No girl should have to do that. No one should have to do that.
I write and illustrate children’s books as a way to share my experiences, not only with bullying, but also with low self-esteem, shyness, fear and anxiety, peer pressure, and so on. Through my experiences, along with research, I will educate young girls on how to cope with fear, stress and other issues and emotions girls face, in a fun and fashionable way. It is time for girls to see the “cool-ness” in embracing themselves and conquering their dreams no matter what. I intend to show just that. So stick around for the adventures.