Ashamed?

I’ve got a post rattling around in my head, and I’m not really sure if this is going to be any good or whether it will be the worst thing I’ve ever written. But I want to get it out, because it’s been bothering me for about ten years now and I know that seems like an awful long time- but it’s always sat at the back of my mind.

Social classes. Why on earth do they exist? As someone who has sat squarely in the middle all of her life, I really don’t understand them. The lower classes/working class people look down on those with money, as if they are lower than them because they work for all they have and the upper class get it handed to them on a silver platter. So where does that put the middle class people? And is it easy to swap from one class to another? Can you be born into a lower class and end your life as an upper classman? Even if you work your whole life, maybe strike gold or get lucky- with money, does that just make you a lower class person with a large bank account? If you’re upper class, but you behave rudely and childish, doesn’t that make you a lower class being with a lot of money and heritage?

Does attitude and posterity decide your class or is it the size of your bank account? As I said, I was born into a middle class family. Both my father’s side and my mother’s side were both working class and my parents had saved all their money to give myself and my brother what they didn’t have as children. I never had to ask for anything, and I never felt like I went without. We were not spoiled though, if we wanted the latest shoes or the latest computer- it was either a birthday/Christmas gift or nothing. My parents didn’t have the money to just splash around willy-nilly. I couldn’t have the Kickers shoes that everyone at school had, or Reebok trainers for physical education. Or the leather River Island bag I wanted to carry my school stuff around.

For this, I got bullied. HARD. Especially after I came out of the closet at the age of 13 and realized I liked girls as well as boys. I still do, it wasn’t a phase. I was spat upon, pulled through the mud by my hair, had my things stolen and thrown into the bin. My locker was broken into and my posters would be defaced. From the age of 13 to the age of 15- my life was made a torrid hell. I sat in the corner and kept myself to myself. I kept my head down in school. I buried myself in fantasy novels and played D&D with ¬†friends, if not only to escape the horrific nature of my surroundings. When I saw my bullies coming towards me in the halls and on the fields, I would turn tail and walk away like a scared puppy. I would spend hours at home, plotting my routes around the school so I could avoid bumping into them. They would laugh at me constantly, tell me I was never going to be any good at anything and for all that- my grades at school slipped and my work fell into a bad area. I stopped writing. I stopped caring. I thought about suicide several times, I would get to school in the morning and I would get off the bus and walk out of school.

After a while, my parents found out. They wanted to know why my attendance was so low. I couldn’t tell them. I just wanted to sit in the corner and cry, letting it all wash over me and my life would just pass me by. They eventually forced it out of me and things started to get better at school. My grades went up, people started talking to me again and by the time I was 16 I could say I had a few friends again. College came along, and I blossomed. I came out of my shell a little, now that the people who bullied me were not around. But again, I felt out of place when I was given a brand new film SLR camera for my first year as my 17th birthday gift from my parents. The rest of my course borrowed cameras or had second hand ones. I felt incredibly wrong, like a fish out of water for having this shiny toy in my hands. I passed my course with flying colours, both years and graduated onto University where things seemed to level out because of student loans. I didn’t seem to have anything more or less than anyone else.

Even now. I feel out of place for liking nice things. I was raised middle class. I am still middle class. Just because I work in a retail store doesn’t mean I have to act like a chav and buy my clothes from Primark. Gone are my teenage styles of River Island and Topshop, I’ve been there done that and worn the tshirt. I look for things made out of good materials and good brands. So I won’t apologise for liking Michael Kors and Mulberry, or buying ¬£150 shoes. I’m 30. If I can’t treat myself to nice things now, I never will be able to. I work hard for my nice things, and I save my money while paying my bills. And gadgets! Haha, I’m known as the gadget queen in my family. I love my shiny toys and my handbag is always full of them :)

3 thoughts on “Ashamed?

  1. Brilliantly written, but I felt so sad reading this post.

    My own background is definitely lower working class, and there were many, many times we did have to go without. I grew up painfully aware of this, and was bullied very hard too. Lacking the necessary spine, I let it get to me, and began to let things slide.

    I can relate all to well to the notion of turning up at school, only to turn around again. My attendance at school basically stopped after 1st year, and I left school with no qualifications.

    Unlike you, I never had to deal with the bullying related to being openly bisexual, (just the jibes of being gay because I, “wasn’t like everyone else”). I can’t imagine how horrible that must have been, and I hate that anyone should be put through that trauma over something of such little importance.

    I am very, very glad to read that you were able to recover from it all, and move on as a stronger person. Good for you, for not letting others dictate how you should be.

    Like you, I also appreciate the nicer things now. In my case it may be compensation for feeling I, “missed out” when I was younger, but I definitely believe there is no shame in buying things you like if you can afford to do so. To hell with social strata, and feeling you have to do what others are doing, simply because you are pigeon-holed into a particular class.

  2. I think there’s a grave misunderstanding in this country that we tell people and that is social class is determined by how much money we have – this idea is turned on it’s head when you hear “nouveau riche.” The idea that you can have money but none of the “class.” Classism has always been and remains about social class status, how other people view your propriety, wealth, legacy, graces and lineage. The middle class is becoming a lot smaller as the gap between rich and poor is widening and taking a lot of the middle class (monetarily). But the idea of class has always been tied up in allowing the privilege of wealth to buy power, influence and benefits and thinking that makes you an inherently better person.

  3. Thanks for your comment :)

    I’d like to say that all that did make me a stronger person, and I guess it did in some respect but there are times when people can say hurtful things against me and I can feel part of myself break down inside. I cried the other night about being called ‘talkative’ at work. I don’t know why, I guess I don’t want to be known as it because it stipulates that I don’t get any work done.

    Some days I’m more sensitive about the issue than others. When I’m manic, I’m happy and shit bounces off me like rubber bullets in a riot. And when I’m down and depressed, I let too much get to me and I crawl into bed and cry myself to sleep.

    My mum said to me the other day that it was good that I didn’t let things get me down, and I don’t…for long. Even on the days I have a good sob about it all, it’s only for a couple of hours at the most and then I mentally slap myself and build up my walls again- determined to make the best of the situation. I’m strong in some respects, I know I deal with things a lot better than some people but I still have my weaknesses. I know this :/

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