Insider's Guide to High School The Tattoo

One girl, surviving on an island of boys

MILLERS FALLS, Massachusetts, U.S.A. — When I was in elementary school, I thought it was unfair that there were always more boys than girls.

When I got to middle school, I realized it was really unfair — because I was the only girl in my classes or in my grade. I was the only girl because I chose to go to an all boys’ school.

To some this might seem odd. My friends’ most common response was, “ Oh my God! You are like so lucky, all those boys! Oh that is so like heaven!”

But they didn’t understand.

I didn’t go to an all boys’ school because I would be the only girl, I went there because I wanted to go somewhere. Not on a date, but to a secondary school, or a college other than the local one.

Not that public schools are awful (well, some are), but I felt I would brighten my horizons by going to a private school.

Also, I could go to this one for free because my parents worked there.

On my first days at school, I was intimidated because I didn’t have any friends and it seemed like it was my first day on a new planet, because everyone seemed to turn away when I walked by or a whispered conversation would end or begin as I passed

In classes, no one would be my partner unless a teacher required it.

In sports, no one would pass the soccer ball to me or they would call me names when I missed a pass.

Sometimes, I would hear nasty remarks muttered as I walked by.

I eventually figured out that the boys were as intimidated by me as I was of them. They were afraid I would show them up in classes by getting better grades, or get on a better team than them in soccer practice.

Their defense against this was to humiliate me.

Once both sides realized that the other wasn’t as threatening as they thought, a truce was called.

Once it was called, I got to meet some great friends that I still have even after they’ve left the school.

For awhile, I thought going to an all boys’ school was the worst decision that I had made, because I had to deal with so many people who made rude comments, but I think all the painful moments when I felt alone helped me.

I know when to ignore someone and when to protect myself and stick up for myself.

I know how and when to ask for help, something that I didn’t do well before.

I also have learned a lot, from textbooks and from people like teachers that I wouldn’t have had, if I hadn’t gone to private school.

Maybe, just maybe I did brighten my horizons. Only time will tell.

Catie Moulton is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.