I’ve always been the strange one in every crowd. I’m a bit odd-looking by nature and have a quirky personality. Until I moved to a new city, I never minded it. I moved about 10 years ago and immediately began having problems with self-esteem because of the way I was. In my school, you had to have the right combination of everything to fit in at all. I was homely, extremely near-sighted, smart, a diligent student, and clumsy, which did not make for fast friendship.
In 8th grade, I transferred to a private school. I became good friends with the other three girls in my grade and flourished. At the end of the year, my application to a highly selective private high school was accepted. I figured that my problems would change course.
Unfortunately, once I got there, I began struggling with feelings of inferiority. Since it was such a selective school, all of my friends were brilliant in some way. I began doubting my own intelligence, which was essentially my identity. As a result, I couldn’t find any reason why my friends would want to know me.
Around the middle of the year, I began dealing with suicidal thoughts. I always carried around my pocketknife from camping on my backpack, and self-mutilation became a habit. I would make incisions on my fingers, on my elbows, on the backs of my hands and feet—places where no one would question their existence. Every time I did something wrong or felt inferior, I would make myself bleed for it. Somehow, this self-flagellation made me feel better.
No one seemed to notice, until one day, my World Literature teacher asked to see me during a free period. After a few minutes of normal conversation, she began asking about the marks on my hands. Concerned about the fact that I was on the road to more drastic measures, she became a sounding board—a place where I could go to release my frustrations in a non-violent way.
I’m not sure there’s a way to prevent this sort of thing from happening to other people, but I can say one thing by way of advice: there are people who care about you; turn to them before all.