Between This and That

October 30, 2010
By , San Anselmo, CA
“Aren’t you going to join in too?” the text message said. I clamped my phone shut immediately and returned to my desk. Staring at me impassively was my computer’s radiant screen opened to a tab displaying the most popular social networking site of the decade – Facebook. I read the offensive comments that my new gymnastics teammates posted onto another team member’s profile. I knew what the right thing to do was, however, I recently had joined their team and desperately wanted to be accepted into their circle, so my dilemma was difficult.

I couldn’t take my mind off the drama that was unfolding before my eyes as the cruel girls continued to post malicious remarks onto her profile. I knew if I wrote something I’d automatically gain approval from my new friends, but I also knew that if I didn’t, I’d feel a lot better on the innocent girl’s behalf and for my own. I took out my phone again and typed back to the earlier text message I had received “no thank you,” and hit the send button. While I didn’t get a reply back from any of the girls the rest of the night, I felt relieved.

The next day as we all arrived at gymnastics practice, the coaches looked furious; they obviously had heard about the incident from the night before from the girl’s mother. They forced us each to have a private meeting with them one by one in their office. While I didn’t participate in the episode, my heart was still pulsating stridently. Finally, I was called into the office. I was shaking slightly and had a hard time meeting their harsh gaze. Once I sat down into the uncomfortable, vomit-green colored chair, both of my coaches’ harsh gazes dissolved.

“Dorian, we are really proud that you didn’t partake in the event that took place last night. I know it took a lot of courage to not join in, however, you did the right thing and showed you are a really great teammate.” My head coach then dismissed me.

I appreciated their praise which lifted a huge weight off my chest. I knew it meant a lot to the girl too as she thanked me herself, and I was in awe at her ability to still come to practice that day despite the malevolent words all her teammates had said to her not even 24 hours before. Making that choice displayed my character not only to my coaches and teammates, but to me. I realize how grateful I am for making that choice, however, I wish I had stood up for her because no one deserves to be bullied.
Throughout the course of my life, I’ll be confronted with many challenging decisions and it will be up to me to make the right choice. We all wish these decisions came easier, but, not all choices are between right and wrong. I have developed expectations for myself to make choices like these that will celebrate people rather than tear them down.
Later in that same year, my entire team voted for me for being the most inspirational team member and I received a plaque with my picture and name on it to hang in the gym. At the team dinner, when I was given the award, the girls who had tried to pressure me into playing along with bullying the other teammate of ours, stood up and explained why they voted for me. They expressed their gratitude for my hard work and positive attitude that helped pull the team together. My role on the team changed from wanting to be accepted, to having an important position on the team where I did become accepted for all the right reasons. My plaque still hangs on the gym wall where I’m constantly reminded of what kind of person I want to be.

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