Learning to Stand Tall

April 2, 2008
By Alyssa Whittington BRONZE, Gibsonia, Pennsylvania
Alyssa Whittington BRONZE, Gibsonia, Pennsylvania
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

My shoulders slumped as I entered the school. Everything seemed darker than before. I warily looked at people shuffling in the hallways around me and couldn’t help but feel like they were staring. Only yesterday, the school had stood for challenges to come, challenges like fitting in. I’d been watching silently and analyzing, trying to get a feel for my new classmates for weeks. Then I’d started speaking other than to reply to the question, “Why are you here?” I’d found a lunch table.

Things were alright until my new friend Amber approached me with some news she thought I needed to know. Hesitantly, she informed me of another girl, I’ll call her Beth, and how that girl had vocalized some hatred filled words toward me, including a few swear words. I wasn’t shocked. I knew that people probably didn’t like me, but I’d never even spoken to Beth. The only things I knew about her was that she was quite popular, was in a high level Spanish class, and sat three desks away from me in social studies. How could she hate me?

I didn’t dwell on it. After elementary school, girls thrive by talking about one thing or another. I was just another topic, and I didn’t mind too much. But every time someone talked about Beth, almost always in a negative manner since she was popular, I put in my two cents. I didn’t repeat what she’d done exactly, but I made it clear that she was certainly not a kind person. In social studies, I acted normally. Well, as normally as a person in my position could. I lent her my calculator. I clapped like everyone was supposed to do at the end of a presentation, even hers. I smiled.

Near the end of the year, our enthusiastic English teacher decided to cover the walls of the lobby with the poems we’d written during the year. They slowly went up, but I never took much notice of them. Then one day, after gym, everyone was standing in the lobby waiting for the bell to liberate us to lunch. I looked at a poem, and saw it was by Beth. I inwardly was quite evil, assuming that it would be vain and about makeup. I read.

It was an apology, starting with the lines, “I’m sorry to all those I hurt this year/ with my words and actions not kind.” And suddenly, I felt like crap. In about seven months, not once had I considered truly forgiving her. In that time, I’d spread the same exact hatred and stupidity that she had. But she’d recognized her mistake.

What was the chance that I’d found that poem? Some may say one in approximately 300, that being the estimate of poems covering the walls. I say it’s a hundred percent probability. Whether or not you believe in God or Fate, I know that poem was meant to be read, by me in particular. I’d been taught something I’d been told for years about the negativity of holding grudges. You don’t want to admit that you’re shallow enough to hold on to such meaningless incidents, so you pretend you’re over it, and that it’s not significant. Lying to yourself doesn’t change how you feel, and you can’t move on until you recognize that you haven’t moved on yet.

Beth went to another school after that year, and I haven’t seen her since. But she remains alive in my memory, not as the girl that sent offensive words about me out into the world, but as the person stronger than I who was able to recognize her own faults. All a person must do is realize their error to be able to correct it. Pride is not nearly as important as fixing something you’ll later regret. It’s odd, but now I can stand tall again, knowing that I’m going to do things wrong every day of my life.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jun. 15 2009 at 7:21 pm
Amazing! You opened my eyes. Tomorrow I am going to look at the person the same way you did and forgive them like any body, and every bod should


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