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Zooey Deschanel: "Girls Spit in My Face" in Middle School

USMagazine, Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 9:30am (PST)

She's become BFFs with A-listers like Nicole Richie and Mindy Kaling, but back in middle school, Zooey Deschanel was tormented by her peers.

"Girls spit in my face," Deschanel tells the February issue of Allure. "People were so mean to me. I'd cry every day."

PHOTOS: Zooey's fun and flirty red carpet style

The New Girl actress -- who attended high school with Jake Gyllenhaal and Kate Hudson -- says not much changed during her freshman year at Northwestern University.

"I went to Northwestern because I had gone to a really nontraditional high school. I was like, 'It'd be cool to have a traditional college experience,'" Deschanel, 32, explains. "Then I was like, 'Oh, but none of these people understand what's cool about me. My specialness is not appreciated in this place.'"

PHOTOS: Embarrassing celebrity yearbook pics!

Deschanel eventually dropped out of college to pursue a career in show business. Though she became an indie fave, Deschanel diversified her resume with high-profile roles in Elf and Almost Famous.

"I've always straddled a weird line -- there's a lot of mainstream stuff that I love," Deschanel tells Allure. "At the same, I still feel like an outsider. I'm the outsider who's on the inside."

The actress gained more notoriety when 10 million people tuned in to the premiere of FOX's New Girl in September 2011 -- though the Golden Globe nominee is wary of being hailed the next "It Girl."

VIDEO: Zooey dresses like a "hot farmer's daughter" on New Girl

"'It Girl' is supposed to be something that only lasts a certain amount of time," Deschanel says. "They keep calling me an 'It Girl,' and at this point it makes me laugh, because I've done that so many times: 'You're it;' 'You're not it.' What is 'it?'"

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