here were 4 High Schools in the area I grew up in and so when my friends and I left Primary School we all went in different directions. Some of the friends I had went to the same High School as me but we were then further sub-divided into classes and there was not a single person in my class that I had known before. I found the first day pretty terrifying, I think that unless you have a good level of self-confidence High School is a nightmare. I did make a couple of friends on the first day, like me they were nervous and just wanted to get through the first day in one piece so we kept ourselves in the background and looked out for each other as best we could. I found High School very cliquey and it was difficult to find our niche within the myriad of cliques – we were not good looking enough to be in the pretty crowd, not clever enough to be in the academic crowd, not sporty in any sense of the word so we were totally unsuited to the sports crowd; in the end we made our own band of “misfits” and we were happy enough despite the regular ridicule from the other crowds.
I spent most weekends out walking my dog, reading fantasy novels or watching Star Trek movies on video, I absolutely loved Star Trek – it gave me hope in the dark days as this was a show that celebrated diversity and kindness to others. Although it was all very solitary I did enjoy it and I’m glad I didn’t succumb to the pressure to join any of the “in” crowds which would have involved having to watch soap operas, listen to mainstream music and spend money on clothes. My parents weren’t too happy about it, they wanted me to fit in better and integrate with the other teenagers but I didn’t want to be a fake in order to fit in, I wanted to be me, whoever that was.
It was during the later part of my first year at High School that I began to realise that P & Co’s behaviour had not been appropriate. We had a special series of lessons called “Personal and Social Education” which involved a guest speaker coming in every week to talk to us about bank accounts, careers advice etc. After a while the class was split between girls and boys as people came in to talk to us about puberty and relationships. I know it sounds strange but I had no frame of reference beforehand, no sense that I had the power to say no if I didn’t like something; I just went along with what P wanted as I felt beholden to him for protecting me from the other kids. When I did finally realise that it had been wrong I felt dirty and guilty that I had permitted it and I retreated ever further from the social scene as I began to think that people could tell I was unclean, like there was some kind of tell-tale mark on me that people could see. The one good thing to come out of it was that I threw myself into school work in order to take my mind off things and I found out that if I applied myself properly I was actually fairly intelligent. My grades improved dramatically and I was given a number of academic awards as I broke records for achieving high pass marks in end of year exams. I found that I loved science as much as I loved science-fiction and despite struggling with mathematics I did really well in Biology, Chemistry and Physics and decided to enroll in Tertiary education when I finished school at 16.