To Walk in Someone Else's Skin

December 9, 2009
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus tells Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Miss Caroline, Scout’s teacher, had done something that seemed foolish to the students. However, if Scout had looked at things from Miss Caroline’s point of view, she would have seen that it was an honest mistake. Like Scout, there have been times in my own life when I should have looked at something from someone else’s point of view.

I was thirteen and at home on a Thursday night. My dad was still at work and my mom was at a meeting, so I was left to fend for myself that night. I opened the fridge to see what I could microwave for dinner. We were out of spaghettios and I wasn’t in a waffle mood. I closed the fridge and opened it again, expecting good food to have appeared there. Nothing.

For the next ten minutes, I moped around my house until I decided to watch some TV. The only thing on was an episode of “Spongebob” that I had already seen a million times, give or take a few. I went to bed soon after that. Another night wasted.

It wasn’t until the next day that I realized how terribly I have been using the time that I had to myself. In English class that day, we began reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Anne was around my age. Because this was during the Holocaust and Anne was Jewish, she was forced to remain hidden. For years, she had endured horrid conditions in a small attic shared with two families. She was not allowed to move or speak during the day. She was not allowed to look out the window or have the luxury of going downstairs to use the bathroom. She heard stories from the outside of friends that left for school and were never seen again back at home. Anne, along with her family and the other family that shared the attic with them, lived in fear each day, that this would be the day the Nazis would come and take them away.

Despite her terrible situation, Anne always found a way to stay happy. She passed the time by reading, dancing, and making polite chit-chat. Not once did she seem to give up hope that she would be rescued and would resume her normal life in Holland.

I thought back to yesterday, when I was left all by myself in a beautiful house with nobody to tell me what to do. I thought about how I wasted my time thinking about how things could be better. Then I thought about Anne. After reading The Diary of Anne Frank, I realized just how good life is. I thought about how upset I was with the choices I had for dinner. Then I thought about how positive Anne remained, despite her days spent without dinner. I had made a mistake.

The next day, when I got home from school, my dad was working late and my mom had a meeting. This would seem to anyone else like a repeat of last night. But I knew it was not. I went into the kitchen and made myself a delicious stack of frozen waffles. Then, for no reason at all, I let out a shout of joy at the top of my lungs. I ran up and down my staircase five times, for there was nobody there to tell me otherwise. Then I looked out the window and took a good long look at the beautiful world in which I lived.

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