February 12, 2008
By Catherine Gasaway, Mabelvale, AR

Kelsey's the "loud one," the outspoken one. Michael's the "oblivious one," happy to ignore what he can. Anna? The peacemaker. Grace is the one who "keeps her opinions to herself." And me? Where do I fit in this group, this group I call my best friends? The "attitude." I'm the attitude.

"Sarcastic, stubborn, obstinate." Those are the three words most used to put me in my place. I'm told that I "lack self-control," allowing my sarcastic ways to dominate my attitude towards every aspect of my life: school, family, friends. I'm the "sarcastic one," all because I finally decided to speak my mind; I finally decided to release the words that have always been on the tip of my tounge. One time and I'm labeled "the attitude." One time and I'm labeled for life.

Two of my best friends: a couple. They were best friends, boyfriend and girlfriend. They'd been together, off and on, for two years. He treated her like a princess, picking pretty yellow flowers for her after long walks around her neighborhood and never forgetting an anniversary. "Michael and Kelsey"--you never heard one name without the other following closely after. Never saw Michael without Kelsey's hand clasped tightly in his grasp. Yet he was able to stand there and yell at her, able to question her motives, able to question his best friend. She stared back at him; every comeback, every question trapped behind lips shut tight. She was silenced by his unyielding accusations. Silenced by this person she didn't know. She turned to leave, crying. Lies and jealously were to blame for her tears, not her own shortcomings.

I was the "quiet" one. Silent and mocking of the circumstances taking place around me--the silent mocking of one who doesn't mean to rock the boat. But there she was, sitting on the ground by the band room, defeated. She clutched her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking with disbelief. She was my best friend: the one there for me when rumors were spread, the one there for me when my heart was broken, the first one to stand up for me. I watched with narrow eyes as my beautiful best friend wilted there on the ground, a once brilliant red rose left to die. He had all but killed her spirit. I was done. Forever done being the "quiet" one.

I all but exploded in his face--an atomic bomb of observations and months of mocking what noone else seemed to notice. I was calm and even-toned, but I let go of everything I'd been holding onto. I let go of the frustration I felt over his treatment of my best friend. The way he didn't talk to me the way he used to. The way he looked at me now: just another nameless, unrecognizable face in the crowd. I became "the attitude."

Sarcasm literally means "to tear flesh." Deciding to be honest with those around me earned me the reputation of "tearing flesh." Ask a majority of those who know me and they'll say, "Oh, Catherine. She's the girl with the attitude." Nine times out of ten, I'm the girl with the attitude. Ask a majority of those who really know me, and they'll say "honest." Become some weren't accustomed to complete, unabashed honesty, I was shoved kicking and screaming into a stereotype: "to tear flesh." "To tear flesh" gives the connotation of pain and causing others pain. The last thing I'd ever want to do is hurt someone; in fact, I go out of my way to avoid causing pain. However, I won't allow someone I love to be hurt, not if honesty can save him or her. In that way, being honest helps me go above and beyond in my duty to help those I love.

I'm the girl with the attitude. But I don't want to be her. I refuse to be held prisoner by a steretype, by a role I'm supposed to play. I don't want to get accustomed to the costume and theater makeup of "the girl with the attitude:" my starring role. I don't want to see that name up in bright lights. Honesty is important to me: the me that stopped being silent and started speaking up for herself and those she loves. It's real. It's me, regardless of what one thinks.

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