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My best friend’s daughter loves it when I tell her stories of mine and her mom’s childhood. Katie and I have been friends for over 20 years and we have some interesting stories to tell. Some of the stories are hilarious, some are quite scandalous and others are just typical teenage issues. However, as I watched MTV’s Prom Queen, I was instantly returned to my junior high school and the time I ran for homecoming queen.

Seventh grade was horrible for me. It was awkward, humiliating and I dealt with a ton of bullying. I’ve spoken out about my years of being bullied and to think that I would put myself into the spotlight after dealing with bullying is actually quite amusing. The way I became a nominee is nothing but interesting.

It was two or three weeks before the homecoming game and as I walked into my homeroom class, I noticed several girls from my class were missing. Apparently there was a smoking bust or they were in a fight, either way, the “popular” girls in my class weren’t there. What I didn’t know was that it was nomination day for homecoming queen. There would be a nominee from each homeroom and then that person had to raise money for the athletic booster club. I looked around the room and sighed. I picked up the piece of paper to write down another girls name in the class however a voice from behind spoke up.

“I’m nominating you, okay?” I stared at the girl for a moment and laughed. “You’re nominating me, why?”

She smiled. “Well, I don’t want to be it, that’s for sure.”

I turned around, shook my head and sighed. As I wrote another girl’s name, the girl behind me told all her friends in the room to nominate me. Since I had the most nominations, alas, I was nominated to represent our homeroom.

I was on cloud nine to be honest. It felt great to finally have some sort of recognition. It was a real ego boost. I went home, smiling like a Cheshire cat and couldn’t wait to tell my parents about my nomination. Everything was wonderful, until the next day.

The “popular” girls had returned from their stint in suspension and when they found out that I was nominated, all hell broke loose. One girl started complaining that I didn’t deserve to be homecoming nominee and that it wasn’t fair. They weren’t there to do a nomination and as one girl stood to proclaim that everyone should nominate her, the teacher agreed that maybe they should have waited until everyone was there.

I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. My moment, my time to shine was clouded by someone who couldn’t stand to be out of the spotlight. She even looked in my direction and had the gall to say, “What are you going to cry now?” I tried as hard as I could to fight the tears but they spilled one by one over my eyelids. I was mere moments from bolting and never returning again.

The teacher went next door to converse with another teacher as to what she should do. She came back in moments later and made an announcement.

My homeroom teacher looked at the girls who started the trouble and said that since they were suspended from school, they weren’t eligible to run for anything. I was the nominee for my homeroom.

Hello cloud nine!

I smiled and wiped away the tears. The girl behind me patted me on my shoulder. To this day I wish I could remember her name because I would have shouted it in praise. The next two weeks were a giant blur as I tried as hard as I could to raise money for the booster club.

Closer to homecoming, my mother took me to a local outlet store and found me the most gorgeous sea foam green dress (this was the 80s, don’t judge). It was deeply discounted and I just knew I’d steal the spotlight with the dress. As I walked through the gates of the football field, I stood proudly as my homeroom’s nominee. Even if I didn’t win, I was there and that was all that mattered to me.

I walked towards the stadium seats and as I took my spot next to the nominees, one of the girls from my homeroom passed by. She started laughing at me and pointing. As I stared at her, trying to figure out what was so funny, she walked towards me.

“You have a stain on your dress,” she said, loudly, for the rest of the homecoming court to hear. I blushed and looked down. Sure enough, there was a streak down the front of my dress. No wonder the dress was discounted so much.

She walked away, laughing as loud as she could and as I tried to slink down into my seat, fighting more tears, something in me finally snapped. I’d had enough. I pushed the tears back, stood proudly as they announced the homecoming court and walked across the field proudly. I wasn’t about to let someone who was bitter bring me down.

Just in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t win. Another girl blew us all out of the water with her donations. As I carried my single rose across the field to where my parents stood, I smiled. I felt proud. That was the night that started my do not care attitude towards bullies. I realized that a lot of times people have things going on internally that they have to take out on others to make them feel better about themselves.

I may not have been crowned homecoming queen, but I did walk away with something that night. Confidence.