Over the summer, I spend a lot of time at my parents’ beach house in Amagansett. The “guest book” usually fills up pretty quickly with their friends or our family, so it is rare that on a prime summer weekend we would have bedrooms to spare. I took the opportunity to invite two of my closest camp friends for a relaxing weekend in the Hamptons. After a long car ride out east, they finally arrived at my house. Without so much as a breath of hesitation, my mom looks right at them and says “Well, I never thought THIS day would come”. You see, 20 years ago, my first summer at camp, these were not my friends. These were my bullies.
There is no “woe is me” here, but I was NOT one of the cute campers. I was an incredibly shy (if you can believe it) chubster who was not very athletic – AT ALL. I made awkward jokes-if I even spoke at all that day. I didn’t have the latest trendy Umbro shorts or the cool 90210 pillows on my bed. I was from NEW JERSEY! None of this would help me one bit.
There were two girls in my bunk who had started camp the year before. They were athletic and outgoing. They were blonde and beautiful and had all of the coolest stuff. All of the older girls and counselors knew who they were, where as sometimes I STILL don’t think they know who I am. They were everything I wasn’t and that was incredibly intimidating…and they knew it!
It wasn’t like they would purposely trip me as I was running at track & field or short sheet my bed when I was out of the bunk. It wasn’t that kind of bullying. It was more of a subtle bully. I would get to our table in the dining room and one would say “Oh, I’m saving that seat for someone”. No one would ever end up sitting there. I would be in line to play jacks only to have the game conveniently end when it was my turn. They would be sharing their candy and run out just before I could get some. If I were picked to play on their team, I would fear getting yelled at for not doing a good job. If I was on the opposite team, I would fear that the ball would be aimed directly for my head. It was a lose/lose/loser situation. I had a fellow chubster in the bunk who had fallen upon a similar fate. We would commiserate nightly over a shared love of Lipton’s Cup O Noodle soup.
I never did anything about this. I never confronted them. I never went tattling to my counselors. I never called for a bunk discussion because X and Y were mean to me. I could have switched bunks but that wouldn’t have solved any problem. I just kept trying. I kept trying for the seat in the dining room. I kept trying to play jacks with them. I would share all of my Tate’s cookies (sometimes only getting one for myself) in hopes of a Chupa Chup lollipop in return. This went on for a couple of summers, yet I would keep going back to camp.
And I kept going back for another TWELVE years. Yes, you may think “Was she crazy? Stop being a doormat”. You see, if there is one thing about myself that I am truly proud of, it is my perseverance. I do not like to give up and let things or people hold me back. Wise beyond my tween years, I knew that if I kept showing up every summer and TRYING and being myself I would be bullied no more.
It was hard-but I did it. The same ol’ Rebecca would show up every summer. And as the years passed the “bullying” seemed to as well. I can’t give you an exact date it happened or even how I knew the tides had turned. I don’t know if they changed or it was just because we were older. But as we got older, we grew closer and closer.
And now, I don’t even know what my life would be like without them. They are my confidants, my shoulders to cry on, my personal tv critics, and my test audience for my new jokes. They encouraged me to write this blog and are some of my biggest supporters.
I sent this post to the two of them before I posted it. I was super nervous that they were going to be upset that I was telling our story to the world (talk about an emotional flashback!). After reading it they, both emailed me back hoping I wasn’t upset with THEM. The thing is, I could never be. I am a stronger person because of my “bullies”. But, a game of jacks and a few Chupa Chup lollipops would make me love them even more 🙂