Being in a girls' school is hard. Incredibly fun and for me, has been imperative to becoming who I am; but hard.
Why? you might ask.
When I made my decision to join in Year 7, the main contributing factor to that choice was the blatant lack of presence of the opposite sex. After my experiences at a notorious sleepover, I was well aware of the horrible characters that some girls could have. Still, I was becoming a rather awkward individual, and the idea of trying to be myself whilst having to conform to the kind of person that boys would approve of - well, I hated that more than anything. My dad was happy, in the way that he'd read the statistics that single-sex schools had better grades than mixed, and of the obvious fact that he wouldn't have to worry about me "whoring myself around" all day when I was supposed to be studying.
The best thing is that I feel inseparable to my friends, I feel that there are no secrets, no need for them, and there are no relationship issues to tear us apart (though there are incidents from neighbouring schools, and I'll get to that.) The worst thing though, which I learnt from the beginning, is labels.
No matter where you go, you will come across those who want to be judged, and who want the authority to judge. Whether or not they admit it, everybody wants to be labelled. It's how society works, it's how school-life thrives, being able to separate the "nerds" from the "sluts" is how you decide where you belong, and who you want to be. Of course, everybody wants a positive label, and the way to distinguish that depends on who you are. If somebody calls you a slut, whether or not it keeps you in on a Friday night, or rebelliously has you hoisting your skirt up a little higher, that word suddenly defines you, it becomes your epicentre. Your life piles up around it, the reason you do things, the words you choose, for one of two reasons. Either you want it to become your core, to fuel you in your endeavours, or you want to swarm and encircle it, surrounding that label with so many contradictions in hopes that it will one day be overwhelmed and obliterated.
I've been given several labels over the years, each have hurt as much as they have empowered me, "giant," "witch", "freak", "introvert", they're all brands that affect people differently. How did I deal with these labels? I flipped them around, I found the positives in them, because that's all you really can do. Labels peel off eventually, but slowly. Try and rip them away and cast them off and there will be marks, scars of somebody who does not fit in anywhere, scars that others will notice and point out jeeringly. I embraced my labels, I accepted that no matter where I went, I was going to be judged.
In the past, I kept myself in the shadows so nobody could judge how I looked. I said nothing controversial so nobody could tell me I was hateful or discriminatory, and I pretty much did nothing interesting in public outside of walking and breathing. People judge to try and gauge a person, it's a tool of deduction to figure somebody out. When faced with somebody who doesn't match any stereotype, that person will panic and defend themselves, because they're new, different, out of the ordinary. In the end, those that judge you are scared and cowardly.
I always hoped that I could rise above it, rise above caring about what I was, and what everybody else was. I'm still learning, so, unabashedly I say that I still judge people, and if that makes me scared and cowardly, then fine, but I would also call myself human.
I'm still finding my place, I feel like something hovering just above the place I am supposed to be, but I haven't settled yet. Perhaps I never will, perhaps I will always float between spaces, maybe in five years' time, I'll be alright with that. Right now, those labels are welded onto my skin, but I don't have the heard to rip them off. I don't want them to become scars, I want everything I once was to be a memory and a lesson.
I want those labels to turn to iron, and become my armour.