When I was in seventh grade, I almost switched schools. There was a middle school near the school I'd gone to since kindergarten, and I was very close to transferring there for eighth grade. I was tired of being treated badly by the girls in my class, and I needed something to change. So my mom, grandmother, and I went to an open house for the middle school and looked around. I loved it. I wanted to go there. I didn't want to go back to my current school with the mean girls and busy work.
This wasn't the first time I'd thought of switching schools. When I was in fifth grade, I almost switched to a school that was mainly project based where you were in school for three days of the week and the other two were spent at home working on the projects. This wasn't a new idea, and the mean girls weren't new either. I'd never really felt like I fit in at that school. I went through puberty first which was a whole thing in itself, but I also had more acne, bigger hips, and blonde hair. These are awful things to have when you're thirteen and no one else is the same. (I would like to say, though, that because I went through puberty first, the acne was gone and the hips proportioned themselves out around the same time everyone else was just starting it all. That part was great.) This is all to say that I felt like the odd one out, and I was tired of it.
After school one day, my mom and I drove past the school to see what it was like before going to the open house. I was listening to a song by Tenth Avenue North called "Healing Begins," and as we past the campus this part of the song played:
This is where the healing begins
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The school I was at was creating problems for me. Not only was I feeling left out, but by time I was sitting in the school parking lot listening to the song, I was being ostracized by the other girls. It was a really bad time for me in many, many ways. I didn't end up going to that middle school for reasons that include a sense of wanting to finish what I'd started, feeling sentimental, and being afraid of change. But what I've realized since that day is while I may not have gone to that school, the healing began in that parking lot. It was the day that I realized I didn't have to be in a place that made me feel bad. I didn't have to put up with mean girls forever.
The following year I went to the Bay Area with my mom to look at the place we'd be moving to. While we were there I visited the school I'd be attending for the next two years (though at that point I assumed I'd be there all four. Ahh hindsight...), and I again found myself in a parking lot looking at a new school, one that I would actually go to this time. In the past year, somethings were better and some were worse. My anxiety was really bad but overall I was pretty happy. I was swimming a lot and learning guitar, but my life at school wasn't much better than it had been a year prior. As I looked at this new school, all I could hope for was that it would be a place where I could grow. Where I could grow into someone who knew what a friend was, who was far more confident, and who knew who she was. What I got was a school that, while taught me what a friend was, worsened my self-esteem and confused me as to who I was. When I left, all I wanted was a place that built me up.
In 2016 I found myself in two new school parking lots. One was yet another school I wouldn't go to (but would return to in November of 2017 to take my SAT), and the other was the school that I've been at for the last two years. In the first parking lot, all I could think of was how much it reminded me of my elementary/middle school, and instantly decided that it wasn't for me. But when I sat in the parking lot of the second school, all I could see was the trees, the brick buildings, and the fences. I had this sense of nostalgia for all I hadn't had at that school, and a sense of peace knowing that this was where I'd be going the next year.
I've sat in many school parkings lots thinking of that song by Tenth Avenue North, and each time I've been in a different place in the healing process. That first school was not a good place for me, but I needed it because that last year taught me a lot about myself. My first high school wasn't a great fit, but I still needed to be there because it also taught me things I needed to know for the school I'm at now. The school I will graduate from has been the best of all three, but it wasn't where the healing began.
The healing from bullies, bad family experiences, and perfectionism began that day in seventh grade when my mom and I sat in the parking lot of a school I would never go to. The healing began when I realized I wasn't in a normal environment and needed to go somewhere else. I needed all those parking lots to reflect on what was wrong at that moment and to think of everything I could change for the better. I didn't get the better life I wanted so badly right away, but the process of getting there began when I didn't even know it.