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I Want Acceptance

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Everyone has a best friend in kindergarten. It is usually someone who lives right around the corner, who you spend all your time with. Your parents set up play dates and you know each other really well. I had a best friend in kindergarten. We met just before school started and when the big day came, we stood in line together while parents took pictures. We were the best of friends for years.
But then came third grade and a horrible thing happened: we were put in different classes. I didn’t know what to do without my best friend. I didn’t know how to make new friends, because I had never had the need. I was sure that when the next year came, we would be in the same class again and everything would be exactly the same.
Well, we were in the same class for fourth grade, but we weren’t friends anymore. She had her new group and I didn’t have anyone. I was a loner, so I became the teacher’s pet and got a reputation for being smarter than everyone else. No one wanted to play with me because everyone thought I was stuck up and way too smart.
It was like this for years, until I got to high school. I went to a private middle school that the people in the regular middle school called the “smart kid school.” Luckily, when I got to high school, a girl who lived in my neighborhood took me under her wing. For once, I felt accepted.
But then her group split up. I tried to stay with her, but she kept making comments that implied I wasn’t wanted around, comments like, “Well, Claire and her friends,” (the other part of the group) “eat lunch in the cafeteria now. Why don’t you go join them?”
Finally, I got the message that they didn’t want me and I went to the cafeteria, though I hardly knew who Claire was.
Claire became my best friend; the only one I felt really accepted me among her friends. Over the next year or so, the others gradually began to acknowledge me and talk to me. All except one.
David Pike was the friendliest boy in school. He was nice to everyone, and everyone knew him. He was smart and funny. But most of all, he gave hugs to everyone he knew. Everyone except me. The thing that I wanted most was for everyone in our group to admit that I was there and that they were okay with that, but David didn’t. I was the only one he didn’t give a hug to. Everyday I worked at him, trying to get him to be friendly to me. I said hi to him in the hall, I made comments at lunch—a new thing for me—but still I couldn’t get him to give me a hug.
Finally, I spoke to Claire about it.
“Don’t worry about it,” was her advice. “It’s just David being an idiot. You have to talk to him, tell him how you feel. You have to sit down with him and say ‘Look, I want you to say hi to me; I want you to hug me. I want you to treat me like you do everyone else.’”
“But what if he has a real reason for it?” I asked. “What if he doesn’t want to? I would feel like an idiot. Besides, you know how shy I am. It is probably that he doesn’t want to treat me like a friend.”
“It isn’t you,” she said. I was comforted for a little while.
That night, we all went to a football game together. It was the Civil War, the biggest football game of the year, even bigger than the Homecoming game. It took place on the joint football field. We had to take the guest seats this time, since the other school had them last year. We were all packed in there so tightly, there was barely room to move and cheer. I was stuck between another group and David.
That game was a turning point for me. It made me hope. He stood right next to me the entire game without moving away. At the end of the game, we all ran down to storm the field and paint the goalposts, the reward for the winners of the Civil War. When we were leaving the field, I decided to take a stand. “David,” I said bluntly. “I want a hug tonight.” It was terrifying, saying that. I hadn’t realized until that year that the reason I had such a hard time making friends was because I was really shy. Saying anything forward frightens me.
“Okay.” He shrugged, oblivious to the fear making my heart pound. He reached out and squeezed me around the shoulders. Even now, writing this, I can still feel that first hug he gave me. It was a monumental change.
In the car ride home, I talked about it again with Claire. During the game, another friend of ours had brought a friend of hers over to stand with us. Throughout the course of the game, David was laughing and joking with her just like anyone else. He even gave her a hug goodbye. I assumed they all knew her from somewhere else, but when I asked Claire where they had met her, she said, “We didn’t meet her until tonight.”
“Oh.” I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. “So, David will be his warm, funny self to a girl he has known for all of two hours, but I, whom he has known for almost two years, have to ask for a hug.”
“I told you, he is a jerk. You need to talk to him about this.” But somehow, I couldn’t follow her advice. All through that night, I dreamt of that one hug.
Over the next month, I noticed that David was warming up to me. I didn’t know if it was the hug I’d demanded, or if Claire had had a talk with him, and I didn’t care. I was starting to be able to talk to him without fear of rejection.
Just a few days ago at lunch, we heard the bell and started dispersing. While David was hugging Claire goodbye, I said jokingly, “Hey, what about me?”
I didn’t mean anything by it, and I didn’t expect anything, but David reached out and hugged me anyway. He is the warmest person I know and it was a delight to finally be hugged by him again.
The next day, it was the same situation. We were all leaving for class when David reached out and hugged me, without any prompting.
I could have cried with happiness. After many long years, I finally felt completely accepted. I had friends, even a best friend. I felt at home.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

phoenixqueen said...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 5:24 pm:
Awww, thanks. It's amazing to think that people like my writing!
 
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jessi said...
Oct. 29, 2009 at 11:13 pm:
thats awesome, love the ending. glad he stopped being a jerk, hope somethin like that happens to me soon :)
 
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