High school and college isn’t a cakewalk but sometimes walking the halls can cause out right fear.  It’s absolutely tragic that in only a month students have died; taking their lives because of the intolerance and cruelty they felt surrounded by.  Geoff and I created Hot Mess because high school wasn’t great for either of us.  I remember crying in my mom’s car to let me be home schooled.  I was an outcast and I didn’t know why.  My greatest fear came during lunchtime.  I usually got my food and retreated to the nurse’s office to eat alone.  One day, I didn’t escape fast enough.  A cheerleader started yelling profanities, accusing me of flirting with her boyfriend.  I never even spoke to him.  Well, quickly it escalated.  Not only was she confronting me but her pack of her friends as well.  I was scared for my safety and my reputation. I felt vulnerable and humiliated.  A teacher broke it up but I was left heart broken.  I ran to the restroom crying.  I was a loser and no one liked me.  I’ll never forget how alone I felt.  My parents couldn’t possibly understand as much as they tried, my big brother was away at college, and let’s face it I didn’t have any friends.  With my head held low, I went to class then unexpectedly I was called to the Vice Principal’s office…for the first time in my life.  In the VP’s office the friendly face of Mrs. “J” greeted me.  She said, “Diana, I heard about what happened in the cafeteria.”  Immediately, I tried to explain myself.  She continued, “No need.  I get it.  You’re being bullied.  It’s cattiness and immaturity you’re dealing with.  Rise above it.  Be better than them and when you graduate on to bigger, better things these mean girls will be nothing but a memory in your rear view mirror.”  It’s amazing how someone says the perfect thing to put you back on track.  I needed that motivational speech.  Now I would be lying to say school was a dream in the coming years, it wasn’t.  Yet, I was armed knowing it was temporary, knowing it was going to get better.  And it does and it did.  So, thank you to the mean girls.  Because of them, I’m stronger.  Nothing and no one should ever define you.  Take the power and define yourself.  After all, the bullies come and go but you always have yourself. There’s something really assuring in that.