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Lessons from Michael

At the Playhouse freshman year, I met Rob who could make anyone laugh, Jeff who was an incredible actor, Juliannah who always managed to be the loudest person in the room, but the most exciting person was Michael. Michael was a skinny boy with a raspy Janis Joplin voice and long blond curly hair that he loved to play with. He smelled of American Spirit cigarettes, and you could only catch his attention if you referred to him as “gurl.”

I had never met anyone like Michael before. The kids I grew up with in Durham were all very similar; the girls all had straight hair, Abercrombie clothes and Coach bags and acted exactly how they looked. The boys were their counterpart, trying to impress people with their toughness and athletic skills rather than handbags. Michael though never ceased to amaze me with his uniqueness. He was always getting skinner, and his clothes were interesting, colorful, vintage, and revealing of his bony body. One day he surprised everyone by cutting off his precious locks and dying what was left platinum blonde.

He would come into the playhouse, smiling and joking with his interesting friends, never losing his sassy attitude, not even for a second. He was always content with who he was, which for a long time was the opposite of me.

When I first met Michael, I was an awkward freshman, one of those quiet ones who did whatever possible to fit in. I had a pair of Ugg boots that didn’t quite fit right and uncomfortable Hollister shirts. When I had the time, I straightened my wild red hair. I wanted to look like everyone else at my school.

I tried all the styles and tricks, but never ended up with friends that I got along well with. They were always competing academically and socially with one another. I used to get upset when I would see one of them get a new expensive bag that I couldn’t afford. I believed a new bag was what I needed for other people to accept me, but then in the afternoons I would go to the playhouse where nobody would have those bags. I would look at Michael; he was absolutely ridiculous, but many loved him. It took me long enough, but I finally realized that to make friends I get along with they had to be able to know me.

Today I am happy to say that I am more like Michael, maybe not with the obnoxious clothing and flamboyant and reckless personality, but like him I feel comfortable with who I am, and I show it off. I wear clothes that most of those girls from middle school wouldn’t dare take off the rack, and I feel comfortable in school speaking my mind even if others do not agree. I am able to be myself without relying on anyone else. Yet, today I have more friends than ever. I have my good group of friends from my high school, but I also enjoy the adventure of going out with the many friends I have met through the playhouse. I always kept changing myself to please others, but what I learned is that it is more important to please myself.





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