Because of her hearing impairments, Cheyenne began wearing hearing aids to school, but found out that they had an unwanted side effect. Now that her hearing was better, she could hear kids whispering behind her. They’d whisper her name, and when she turned around, they’d pretend no one had said anything, or stare at her and sarcastically ask, “What?”
She was bullied badly through middle school and most of high school, and didn’t have any friends. “If I were nominated for anything—say, Winter Dance Queen or Homecoming Queen—it was so they could project me up so that they could make fun of me even more. Finally, I convinced my parents to forget the hearing aid; it only seemed to make things worse.”
She got blamed for things she didn’t do, and was even thrown out of her own senior prom by a classmate. Several of her peers told her privately, “That wasn’t right,” or other expressions of sympathy, but no one spoke up for her. “I know that even if one person would have stood up, I would have been very grateful for their efforts to stand up for what they believed was right. And it would have given my self-esteem a boost.”
Although she remembers too many days when she came home from school and cried her heart out, the bullying subsided at the end of high school. “During this hard time, I discovered writing and realized I was pretty good at writing out my feelings and describing things on paper,” she says. An English teacher encouraged her, and writing became her refuge. That’s what she’s doing now: working on becoming a full-time writer.
Her torment ended about five years ago; she’s now a twenty-three-year-old single mom, but every day, she still feels the effects of being bullied. “It is never a good thing having to enter the real world with a really bad self-image, because more times than not, the image you see of yourself is the image you also project of yourself to others. It’s not so easy to just wake up one day and feel peppy and self-confident. I truly believe that it takes only minutes to strip away a person’s confidence—but it takes years to build it back up. Some people are extremely resilient; others are not. BBut I find that the people who were kicked around in their school years are also some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They know how it feels to be treated badly and they don’t want to inflict that pain on others.”