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The Black Sheep's Cocoon

Middle school is the worst thing and the best thing to happen to a girl. Elementary school girls look forward to the day they start middle school, but soon after that day comes, want to get out. Middle school is the dark cocoon that caterpillars must spend time in before becoming a butterfly. The caterpillar is isolated from others inside the cocoon; possibly feeling alone, but when it leaves will be a butterfly with wings strong enough to enable it to fly away. Although difficult at the time, I later discovered that middle school was the best thing that happened to me.

When I was in middle school, I was the ugly duckling, whose feathers were grey while everyone else’s was white. When I was in middle school, girls were labeled as either popular or not. When I was in middle school, the popular girls were the same: dressing in the same manner, listening to the same music, and even reading the same books. I, on the other hand, was the black sheep in a herd of white. The white sheep were like Cinderella’s stepsisters, buying expensive items that showed off their money in order to remain with the crowd, while ostracizing those who were different. Not surprisingly, I was excluded. I remember one incident where a group of girls said I couldn’t join them because I wasn’t like them. Initially I felt as rejected as the ugly duckling when told by the other ducklings, “Quack, get out.”

Later, however, I realized their friendship wasn’t worth a penny. I would rather be a black sheep, ostracized for being different, than a white sheep, whose popularity depended on listening to Lady Gaga or owning a hundred dollar pair of jeans. Instead of being in the hive of the clique and conforming to the style of the queen bee, I stayed in the backstage of the middle school drama, enabling me to stick to my morals, be an individual, and focus on the purpose of school: learning. My books became my best friends, and I developed a passion for my studies. Even today, I would rather read or study than do anything else.

In a recent conversation with a friend, I mentioned being on the autism spectrum (though the truth is, barely). He replied, “Aren’t we all on the spectrum?” Something about that statement clicked inside of me: if we are all on the spectrum of a complex developmental disorder, then aren’t we all different in some way? Maybe in the pasture, the white sheep are only white on the outside, conforming to everyone else, but on the inside are as black as the sheep that they ostracize. In this situation of the pot calling the kettle black, middle school boils down to a misunderstanding of differences as girls attempt to both conform to popular culture and remain an individual.

Thus, middle school was the worst part of my life because of exclusions and calls for conformity, but the best in the sense that I became an individual. When I left middle school and entered high school, I was no longer an ugly duckling, but a swan. And although it was difficult to be the caterpillar in the cocoon, when I finish high school and break through the cocoon, I will be a beautiful butterfly.



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