I was never the popular girl in school

Growing up, since kindergarten all the way up until I finished high school, I was never the popular girl in school.

To begin, I was really shy and socially awkward. I had a weird and uncommon name that people never pronounced correctly. Since my name was so uncommon, it was an easy target for name jokes such as "bacteria" and "cafeteria". I had a gap in my two front teeth that resembled the World Trade Center "Twin Towers" in my mouth. If that didn't already place me at social odds, I was nearsighted and had to endure wearing the most ugly and thick “coke-bottle” glasses that caused more name jokes such as "four-eyed monster" and “Velma” from Scooby-Doo. Being that it was the 90s and technology was still on the rise, there were no other choices like contacts or laser eye surgery. I recall going home on the school bus one day when I was in 1st grade and a bully snatched my glasses off my face and stomped on them in front of me. I ran home in tears and lied to my grandmother and mother that I had lost them. I think they STILL don’t know what really happened. Furthermore, I was really skinny with long arms and hands that reached my kneecaps…at least until puberty.

I was MAINLY raised by my Grandma who had no idea what cool was (at least not for my generation) so I never owned what was considered “cool” clothes.  Most of my pants were high waters and I owned a bunch of weird, grandma-looking shirts. To add to the list of embarrassing, I wore sneakers from Payless or brands that no one thought was cool back then like New balance, Sketchers, and K-Swiss. Shit, I didn't wear Nike or Jordan until I got to High school. My Grandma worked as a caseworker for the city and made a decent living, but she cared more about necessities than unnecessary expensive clothing and I understood her for it. Especially since she didn't have to raise me.

I never had a best friend and I never got the opportunity to make steady friends in school because I never stayed in the same school, or state, for more than two consecutive grades. My grandma lived in NYC and my mom always moved back and forth between Buffalo and NYC. The only close friend I ever had, Nia, died of cancer when I was 9. My grandma told me the news when she was visiting my mother and I in Buffalo. I never got the chance to say bye and I sat in my closet and cried for days. I was never part of a school clique and never had a close group of friends I could hang out with. I guess because I truly didn't fit into anyone's group criteria. I was quiet, I wasn't artistic, I wasn't considered "pretty", I didn’t wear the latest cool shit, I didn't play any instruments, and I definitely wasn't athletic. During gym and recess, I was never picked first. Or second. Or third. Most days I ate lunch alone unless someone who was also a social outcast joined me to loathe in our self-pity, which rarely happened. I didn't have anyone to whisper funny shit about the teacher to. And I didn't have anyone in school to share my secrets with. There were times I thought about taking my own life. I even wrote a disturbing note about what life would be like if I wasn't around. My thoughts were, what could be so bad about going where Nia went? But then my grandma and my mother found out about the note and it was the first time I saw them cry. I immediately threw those thoughts away. 
In high school I had small breasts (still do haha) but I was no longer slim. My butt got bigger and my hips spread... I guess from what's in the water these days lmao. My teeth gap began to close on its own and I stopped wearing my glasses. I was blind as a bat, but I only cared about trying to look good. I got a part-time job so I also started buying my own clothes and sneakers. Nonetheless, I still didn't fit in. A part of me really wanted to, but I never did. A lot of the girls were already smoking and drinking, and I wasn't "cool" because I didn’t. Being that I was raised strict, if my grandma smelled or THOUGHT she smelled drugs or alcohol on me, would have resulted in my own funeral. In addition, I was never allowed to go to parties or teen clubs, I never owned a fake ID, my cellphone was checked regularly, and unless I was working, I had to be home before the streetlights came on. 

At some point in high school I got into a lot of trouble. I started disrespecting my teachers, cutting school, failing classes, and started fighting. It began as a reaction to my repressed anger and sadness from being bullied and a social outcast for so many years. But when I saw that people started talking to me and I got attention for it, I did it more. And more. And more. Until, I was finally expelled from school. It was then, that I realized trying to be socially accepted and fucking up my life wasn’t worth it. Wasn’t worth my education, integrity, disappointing my grandma, and it wasn’t worth my life.

So. Was this my life story? Not even close. Am I trying to sound like an after-school special? Maybe lmao. Am I going to provide you with an exciting and happy ending? Here’s one: I’M ALIVE. Despite everything I endured in school, the point is that I didn’t give up and i'm here to tell you my story. I got through shit and I grew through shit. Still am! Growing up all the way up until I finished high school, I used to wish and pray that I were popular and cool so that I could have an awesome story to tell my future children so that they could be proud of me. Turns out, I told this exact story to my son and he told me that “you're my most popular mommy and I am super proud of you”. Shit always comes full circle. Trust it :)

Photos and Visuals by: Dennis Moore Jr.

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