The New Kid
By Bobbie Jo Reid
Let me start by saying I’m a straight, white, blond-haired, blue-eyed, sixth-generation Canadian woman. These qualifiers, alone, may have you thinking I’ve never suffered at the hands of bullying. Not so.
When I was in Grade 10, I was the target of vicious bullying by a group of kids in my high school. In addition to vandalism, taunting and physical violence, I was subjected to systemic ignorance by the police and school officials, who, at the time, were blind to the detrimental effects of bullying.
They were sure I had instigated the attack. I hadn’t. My only provocation was the fact that I was the ‘new kid.’ And, as someone who entered a new school every year, I was always the new kid!
I was an introverted, gangly, stringy-haired kid in hand-me-down clothes. Nothing about me was cool! An uninspired academic, a clumsy athlete, a mediocre artist – I didn’t fit in anywhere, which made me an easy target. And I spent my entire youth wishing I was somebody else – anybody else!
The kids in my school and I hadn’t grown up together; we shared no history; I knew nothing of their inside jokes; their parents didn’t know mine. I didn’t view myself as particularly different, but to them, I was an anomaly.
Thankfully, after the bullying incident that involved the police, I was given the opportunity to attend a private boarding school for girls. It changed my life! Here, I learned my strengths – my sense of humour, panache for truth-telling and an ability to laugh at myself – and I found my voice.
Occasionally, my mind drifts back to those instances of bullying – like the kids from my grade school in L.A. who mugged me while I walked a friend home; or the boy in my middle school in Toronto that brought a Milk Bone one day and gave it to me in front of the popular kids – and I smile; not because it was funny, but because I rose above it…eventually!
When I started My Evolution – a t-shirt company with a message of acceptance and tolerance – my goal was to inspire people to love and accept themselves. It may be a bumpy, pot-holed road (mine was), but I believe with my whole heart that the more we accept ourselves, the more we accept others. I believe it because I’ve done it!
In the end, we may all be unique, but we’re really not all that different.
My Evolution and Jer’s Vision have teamed up to offer their first T-shirt Design Contest. Students across the country are invited to submit their slogan ideas or design concepts in support of International Day of Pink. For all the contest details, including prizes, go to the contest tab on My Evolution’s Facebook page