Eyes Open to the World This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     As I sat in the cold holding cell, wondering what they were going to do, I suddenly felt like an oddball. Looking around, I thought, What am I doing here? I'm no criminal. As days turned into weeks I tried to isolate myself from the other inmates, leaving my room only to shower and eat. I told myself I wasn't going to take part in anything those animals were doing. I felt strongly that they were really corrupt.

After a few months, the female unit started to get packed. Women were coming in by the dozen, and I got a roommate.

The girl was light-skinned, heavy-set, and had a deep voice. She spoke when she came in, but I just turned my head away. A few days passed and still no words were said between us. She would say good morning to me but get no response. The girl seemed like a thug, and I felt I couldn't associate with her. She scared me a little.

One day I decided to take a trip to the day room and see what was going on. From my room, it sounded like the girls in my unit were having fun. My roommate was out there playing cards with a few others, and when they asked me to join I accepted. Everyone introduced themselves in their unique way and I began to realize the girls weren't that bad.

When I went back to my room to get ready for shower time, my roommate was already there. She'd told me her name was Sharon while we were playing cards. The name really didn't fit her, but I couldn't change it. While we were at the sink brushing our teeth, she asked how I felt being in there. I told her I didn't want to associate with the others because they would be a bad influence on me. Then I asked her how she felt. She explained that the people here were actually friendlier than those you'd meet outside. I took her word for it, and after talking to her I didn't feel so afraid. She didn't really seem that much of a thug after all.

I started leaving my room more often and found that the girls were in fact nice. I started socializing with the other inmates, erasing my previous thoughts that they were all thugs with no goals.

I was crazy to think everyone was bad, to judge them by where they were and how they looked. Shame on me! I taught myself a lesson I will carry for the rest of my life - to like people for who they are, not for what they're wearing or how they look or where they are. I misread people for so long that I made myself believe that I wasn't supposed to talk to those who were lower than me socially or physically.

But now I smell the Folgers, and am a very open person. I taught myself not to jump to conclusions about people. I look at others differently now. Accepting all who are different is not as difficult as it was. And yes, Sharon and I still talk.

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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