I know they say school is meant to be some of the best years of your life, yet honestly...

I hated it. Right from the start.

I hated it when I 'd be getting changed in the classroom ready for PE, and one of the boys would come over and pull down my pants, pointing and laughing at me until everyone looked.

I hated it when another boy would come over to my table, where I was sat happily colouring, and then punch me in the arm.

Kids doing mean things had started to become the norm and I didn't know what to do at such a tenderly young age. So I had tried to be strong, I tried to be brave, I tried to stand my ground and say "it didn't hurt!" and pretend as hard as could that he didn't bother me, that it really didn't hurt, all so that he'd go and leave me alone. 

Yet he'd punch me again, the same arm, but even harder. Trying to fight back my tears I repeated again - with wavering strength "it didn't hurt!"

Please stop, pleeeeeeease stop - I pleaded inside to myself - yet the tears had started to surface.  

And then he'd punch me again, somehow even harder into my now sore and throbbing arm - until I could take no more and burst with tears and ran away, hearing a table full of laughter behind me. 

I'd run and try and loose myself somewhere. To hide. To become invisible.

Yet no matter how small I made myself, no matter how much I quietened my voice to such an extent that it eventually became lost all together - all in the desperate attempt to be ignored and forgotten, all so I'd just be left alone - they'd find me. 

And on it would continue.

It continued in the girls bathroom. Each time I needed to go to the toilet I'd panic. Sat there, pants around ankles clutching a handful of hard tracing paper like tissue, there they would be - again. 

Girls, standing on the toilet seat either side of mine and peering over. Laughing, calling me names; while I attempted to keep some form of modesty and cover myself up. Pleading silently still - please, pleeeeeeease just forget about me and leave me alone.

I tried to fit in. I tried to play small. I tried to wear the same clothes, to have the same opinion as everyone else and to forget my own.

And yet, I was miserable.

I was miserable, lonely and utterly lost as to who I even was anymore.

And that was just the start. Throughout my school years I continued to try to fit in, holding back and trying to keep myself from being noticed as much as I possibly could. The bullying continued in waves until I left - which clearly was as soon as I could. 

When I started to work, things became a little easier. I had no one punching my in the arm or peering over the toilet seat, but the trying to fit in, the keeping quiet, the 'following' everyone else - their opinions, their path - it was so ingrained into me I didn't know any other way.

I'd lost most of myself years before. 

It took one bad relationship and one VERY scary crunch point many years later to realise what I was doing to myself. How I was allowing myself to be treated. How I was STILL miserable - despite the bullying having stopped some time before.

It took this make or break, fight or flight crunch point to make me decide finally, once and for all to (excuse language) say FUCK IT.

I can play small, I can try to fit around everyone else's rules and expectations. I can try to be invisible and keep doing as I've always done yet still be miserable - or, I well can and truly say screw it.

As weird and as unnatural as it felt, I decided to put myself first. To find myself again - my voice, my wants, my needs. To give myself permission to stand up and be counted, with every 'imperfection' and bruise I carried.

To be loved, just as much as I wanted to give love. And to be… HAPPY.

My arm thumping, pants yanking journey is what has led me to put love, fun, freedom and happiness together, and to wake each and every day to live the very best, most beautiful life and adventure my grand scale dreaming head can possibly conjure up.

Sure it's been scary at times, but it's also been more than been worth it.

This small child is fighting back. Not by 'getting even', but by getting up and dusting myself off more times than I've fallen, or been pushed, or punched - because I refuse to be the victim of (my) life, and instead, it's beautiful artist and designer.

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