There’s a first time for everything. Perhaps it’s your first time eating ice cream, or your first time getting a bad grade. For me, this was my first time realizing people weren’t as great as I thought they were. As I lie there sobbing, I wondered what had happened. I mean, true, I had gotten myself into this situation, but I never thought it would escalate to this. There I was, in kindergarten, lying on my back in the cold, unforgiving grass, having just been kicked, some sense finally knocked into me. Maybe she didn’t want to be my friend.
I woke up with a smile on my face, and a positive attitude that radiated out like sunlight through the cracks of a dim sky. I had high hopes for my first day of kindergarten, and my feet sprang off the ground lightly, a genuine smile covering my face. I had bright young eyes pooling with ignorance, and though I was a socially awkward only child, I thought I was ready for my first day of school. So, I hugged my parent's goodbye, then skipped into the school proudly, full of hope.
From then until midway through the school year, I kept friends no longer than four days. There was always someone better for them to play with, so I got used to the isolation, and resolved myself to the temporary happiness found in friendships, and how it was the journey that mattered, not how quickly it ended. Until I met Ava. Her smile was warm and comforting, and her tears full of sorrow and care. I met her by happenstance one day as I was playing after school with all the other girls, the grass poking at my legs as I fled the wrath of my companions. Then I noticed her sitting alone, as I often did, and out of curiosity and kindness, went up to her bearing a soft dandelion gift, asking what troubled her. It seemed she had been banished from her friend group and was now bawling behind the school. Melodramatic, sure, but I could relate to some degree, and from that day on, we were the best of friends. However, our friendship was not past its difficulties, especially concerning the friends she had in the past. For becoming friends with her, everyone else hated me in a violent way. They wanted her to be exiled from all social circles, but I had not gotten the word, and once more, did not agree with it.
That was my first strike against the violent kindergarten hierarchy. Everyday forth I dealt with their harassment, from pinning me down in the field after school, to throwing me to the ground or cutting in front of me in line. I couldn’t care less most days, as I still glowed with radiance, unable to comprehend their malicious intentions, and much less how they involved me. Besides, I never gave much mind to their acts when I went to pick roses from my backyard, or when I played dolls with Ava.
Then, two of my older friends came to visit me after school, and we played tag in the field, right in front of the envious girls who terrorized me. In a heightened position of power, I decided to confront my arch nemesis behind her tree, which was similar to her castle, to discuss our quarrels, and get everything sorted out. I had my two friends distract her guards and passed behind the tree, to see her collection of beautiful field treasures, many of which she had stolen from me. “Sidney,” I asked, looking downward at the colorful leaves and eggs she possessed, “I--” However, the rest of my statement was cut off, as she pulled me in, and planted a kick right into my stomach.
Suprise. Anguish. Fear. My stomach stung, and tears pushed at my eyes, pooling and rolling down my cheeks. My thoughts cleared as I lie there, covered in icy water and mud, and I felt a firm sense of resolution. I would not fall prey to this treachery again. I would not be weak and trusting. So, up went my walls, and I retreated behind them, a scared little girl afraid to see the light. I learned that day, through the blood pulsing in my veins, and the rage in my heart, that weakness was only rewarded with pain.
I worked only for myself, not caring for others, uninterested and connected to nothing but my thoughts, bored and alone. I was unable to handle failure, and though I was successful, I never felt true happiness, found soaking in a moment. It’s since taken years to dull the sickly sweet voice nagging at the corners of my mind, luring me with false promises and statements that isolation is key, and success the only goal. However, I know better now and realize there is more to life than avoiding pain. I will not become what I once despised. My happiness, though its own end, will not be the end of others, and my success, though my goal, will not be at the exclusion of all else. The future awaits me, and I am excited to live and to cherish it, one moment at a time.