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So you just sit down on the seat and push the pedals with your feet.
I was spinning, around and around, my arms outstretched wide as the wind my body created flew past my fingertips. My feet glided off the floor and for a moment I was breathless until I came crashing down. I felt my head smack against something hard. When I looked up I came face to face with the marble coffee table in our living room. The tears came as my forehead started hurting really bad. I ran to my mom in the other room who gasped when she saw me. I guess I hit my forehead really hard. When I looked in the mirror, it was split open, right across the middle.
My mom rushed me to the hospital as I closed my eyes against the pain. I returned home with a little butterfly bandage and no stitches.
Lesson Learned: Socks and Hardwood floors don’t mix.
“Freak.” I heard the words over and over. “Loser.” I knew they were coming; it would only be a matter of time now. “Ugly.” Once again the teasing would begin. It was always the same every day. We would head out to recess and the three would come up to me, call me names, point and laugh; they used to be my friends. One day they decided I wasn’t cool enough for their group and then the name-calling began. I cried the first couple times but now I just sit and silently take it all in.
I saw them coming and I prepared myself for the slaughter, but then something in me changed. I hadn’t done anything to these girls, why did they have the right to treat me this way? The answer was simple, they didn’t. Before the leader could even get the first words out, I stood up and stared her down.
“Get away from me and get over yourselves. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”
I walked away, my head held high as my hands shook beside me. I felt proud.
“Attention everyone.” Hannah, my best friend, called the class to attention. My teacher, Ms. Abernathy, had left the room for a second and we were to behave like angels.
“So I have an announcement to make,” She started, “Kalyn likes Brooks. She told me at recess.”
I felt my face turning slowly red, my whole being, mortified. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. My only solution was to get out of there. I got up, walked quickly to the door, grabbed the hall pass and got out of there. Once I was safe in the hallway, I ran all the way to the bathroom. There I locked my self in a stall, not knowing what to do next. After what felt like an eternity, I made my way back to the classroom, sat down in my desk and noticed a piece of paper folded neatly on top of my workbook. I opened it.
I like you too. It read.
“So you just sit down on the seat and push the pedals with your feet, it’s simple.” I watched my dad as he demonstrated the art of riding a bike.
“Let’s give it a try.” He said moving off the bike so I could mount it myself.
Once I was firmly seated in the hot pink seat, my dad showed me how to place my feet on the pedals. He moved to the front, his eyes daring mine. He thought I could do this, I knew I couldn’t. “Ready?” He tested me. “No.” I replied.
“Trust me, Kalyn, you can do this.”
I looked him in the eyes, “No, I can’t.”
“Yes you can. Trust me.” The sincerity in his voice coaxed me into believing him.
He let go of me and I made my first push on the pedals. I was surprised at how easy it was and all of a sudden I was doing it. It was one push after the other and eventually I was flying. My dad’s words echoed in my mind, trust me.
The summer after fourth grade my mom was diagnosed with cancer. More specifically, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I was devastated, confused, lost, everything that comes with despair. I had been a catholic my whole life but my relationship with God hadn’t been exemplary, we were at odds on a lot of different things. I found him in that summer. I realized that there were bigger problems than my minute complaints. I had almost everything, while some people have nothing. I turned my life around here and stopped taking so much for granted. Age was no factor in this experience, I grew up fast and suddenly life had a whole new meaning. I strived to fix everything I had let fall behind in the past ten years. The new Kalyn was now in construction.
“Kalyn, Jackie, can you stay after class today please.” Ms. H asked us near the end of class. Being the star student, this didn’t surprise me. I had stayed after many times, filing papers for her. The bell rang and we moved to her desk.
She slid the worksheets we had been doing in class across the wood. There was a big F circled in red across the top of both of them.
“I know you two cheated on this worksheet. Your answers are identical as well as incorrect. I need you to get these signed by your parents and bring them back to me tomorrow.”
My heart sunk; there went my star student award. It wasn’t my idea to cheat either; it had been Jackie’s. We were rushing to get them done in time and she told me she had found the answer in the book. Well, she lied. She made it up and I had
Once I got home, I received a scolding and punishment for my actions. I felt horrible. I had disappointed my parents, my teacher, and most of all myself.
“They are moving you up to a higher math level.” My parents broke the news to me while we sat around the dinner table.
“Wait what?” I asked, confused.
My dad explained once again that I would be moving up to the higher math level at my school and that all my classes would change. I became angry. I didn’t want to move up with the smart kids. Then I’d be one of them, I didn’t want to be a nerd. I was at a new school and I made it my goal to be “cool”. But I didn’t have a choice, they were moving me up regardless and I would be starting on Monday.
It turned out that I found the best group of friends in these new classes and I was finally beginning to be challenged. I now know that being smarter than others is always a positive when it comes to excelling in life. What I thought would be the worst thing ever, turned out to be the best.
I found out we were moving at the end of my 6th grade year. My dad told me that I’d love it in California; it would be a whole new experience. My friends threw me a surprise good-bye party and I cried, I didn’t want to leave my home of seven years. But nevertheless, I was on a plane a week later, on my way to the land of possibilities. I was not excited.
When we got to our new house, a couple blocks from the beach, I was shocked. I had imagined some dingy place in the middle of the desert. But my dad had been right. I loved it, and I still do.
Lesson learned: Change is good.
It was the morning of the Monster Mile and I was terrified. The race consisted of a one mile run and one mile swim on the beach for a program I was in called Junior Guards. In the pool, I wasn’t the strongest swimmer, but I enjoyed it. Swimming in the ocean however, was a different story. I hated that, with a passion.
I didn’t talk to anyone as I sat and ate my breakfast, my whole body shaking in anticipation and fear. The silence lasted all morning until I was standing amongst a cluster of kids my own age; all of us waiting for the starting gun to signal the take off. The shot rang through the air, and we were off.
I fell behind instantly, but I didn’t stop. I completed the first mile, entered the ocean and was on my way back. That mile in the water was the longest half hour of my life, but I made it home. I might have come in with the ten and eleven year olds, but I did it. I conquered my fear and completed the race, in one piece.
Ninth grade, I had the hardest teacher I’d ever encountered before, Ms. Emily Waldrip. She made my life miserable. In previous years I was the student with A pluses in ever class, and school was a piece of cake. Well, she took that cake and slammed it into the ground. I actually had to work for once and strive for my perfection. Instead of having it handed to me on a silver platter. School became hard and I had to work my butt off to keep up.
Being me, I did it. I pulled through, got my A. And I thank her to this day for pushing me like that. It was a much-needed wake up call and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Crash. I stood open-mouthed staring at the front door to my house. The window, lay, smashed into a million pieces on the carpet. I looked up at my supposed best friend, staring back at me. She pointed at my other friend, as if blaming her for everything. Granted, she had thrown the ball, but it was my best friend who told her to do it.
I was done. That was the final straw.
I pushed all my worries and fears aside and said goodbye to that group of friends. I was not going to accept the disrespect, pain, and issues with my family anymore. I wanted out. I knew it would mean that I might be alone, friendless, but nothing was worth the pain I was dealing with.
So I left. And I couldn’t be happier today. I love my new group of friends, I’m happy, and my parents and I are getting along again.
The song finished and it was my turn to speak. My whole body was once again shaking with nerves, but these were excited nerves. I was finally conquering the last of my fears, public speaking.
I was a teen leader on a church retreat up in Big Bear and I had been asked to share my faith journey by my youth minister. I took it on without thinking because I knew, if I thought about it, I would chicken out.
I stood up and the words started flowing, just as they were supposed to. I felt free of all my struggles and fears and for once in my life, I felt confident and happy with who and where I was in my life. Everything fell into place, in that one moment, it was magic.