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Seeing Clearly This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Sitting at a table in my school cafeteria, I looked around, slowly taking in everything. For one of the first times in my life, I realized I had been seeing without really seeing for the past two years.

Student after student passed my table carrying a tray with that day's lunch special, but if you looked deeper, there was more to observe. There was more than just the uniform they were wearing, or the way they had styled their hair that day. It suddenly hit me as I cautiously watched classmate after classmate walk by, that I did not know much about anyone at my high school. Sure, I knew how many siblings some had or what grade school they had attended, or what their favorite movies were, but there was a lot more hidden under the surface.

Catching the eye of a girl in my grade sitting at a nearby table, I waved politely. She smiled weakly and then continued to pick at the pasta in front of her. If I hadn't heard recently that her mother was dying of leukemia, I would never have suspected anything was wrong. I may not have been as understanding and compassionate either, had I not known. But isn't that how it usually works? Don't we judge others too quickly, not knowing the whole story?

This is the crazy epiphany I had one day at school. I realized that everyone has a story, and everyone may have something tough they are facing in their lives. I suddenly understood that I was so caught up in my own life, I was forgetting to look out for others. We are all going through something, so why do we so often make it harder for each other? Why not support one another and create one less burden?

I have cystic fibrosis, a terminal lung disease. No one at my school knows – I don't show any noticeable symptoms except for a few coughs here and there. I go about my day like any other kid, but with the realization that I have a dark and terrifying future.

Before that day when I decided to look at the world with a new perspective, I pitied myself almost every day. I thought only about myself and my heavy burden. But I've now realized that I am not the only one suffering: everyone has their own mountain to face.

So, let me ask you, what if that girl or boy you made fun of yesterday was secretly battling a disease or losing someone they loved? Just take a moment to see others and the world around you each day. No one is perfect – we just need to accept each other the way we are.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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This article has 8 comments. Post your own!

RonnieAnn said...
today at 3:02 pm:
I totally understand where your coming from, my mom got locked up in prison for 14 months and only a small handful of people from my school knows. I got distant and people would ask questions or make fun of me for being out there; I just missed my mom and know one had a single clue.
 
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HannahBanana23 said...
Nov. 12, 2010 at 2:13 pm:
Wow that is really deep it makes you think of how others can just put on a mask and make everything seem okay when they really are not. Many people dont know who others are because they judge them because of their outer apperance. That really speaks to me. Thank You :)
 
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dnm509 said...
Nov. 1, 2010 at 11:02 am:
This sends out a great message but I myself am facing a serious condition. I have ovarian cysts and I have a back condition. Luckily I will be getting it taken care of with surgery. I wish you the best of luck and this will make me think every time someone passes me now.
 
riley1516 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm :
Best of luck to you also! and thank you for your comments.. they mean alot to me
 
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littlebrownpet said...
Oct. 31, 2010 at 8:37 am:
great piece - life is really much deeper than what we see. 
 
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forgottenpenname This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 30, 2010 at 4:10 pm:
Great message. You're an excellent writer... I'm so sorry about your illness, but at least it's given you this outlook on life. I get so caught up in my trivial little problems all the time. People like me need people like you to point out what truly matters in life. Good luck with everything. =]
 
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magic-esi This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 30, 2010 at 11:57 am:
That happened to me too. I also realized that nobody ever knows anyone's whole story. Great writing, and I hope that you have a good future.
 
riley1516 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm :
Thank You!
 
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