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The Epitome This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Every day, I walk home from school and-

And I see you. I see you sitting there, on that corner. That exact garbage-ridden corner that you call your home.

But I don’t stop. I don’t stop to look at how your back is permanently bent because you don’t have a chair to sit in.

I don’t stop to look at your overgrown hair, and that same crusty shirt that adorns your underfed stomach. I don’t stop to look at those crinkled pages you write on, that same pen you desperately grasp. I don’t stop to look at you because… I’m afraid. I am afraid to go outside my comfort zone. To accept that there are people in such poverty all around me. I don’t stop to look because accepting that you’re there means I accept the fact that I’ve done absolutely nothing to help you.

And why is that? Why do I shrink when I hear the word “homeless”? I know why. I certainly do.

I shrink because I feel guilty. Yesterday I complained about the dirty towels laying on the bathroom floor at the hotel we stayed at. And you know what? Those people can’t even afford to go one, but there I sat, whining about the “unhygienic-ness” of it all. You know what’s also unhygienic? Street corners. Street corners that, mind you, get littered on every single day. That is someone’s home. That is the place where they tuck themselves in at night. Huddled up in a shredded blanket, with no one there to kiss them on the forehead and tell them it will be okay. Not even the sun’s whisper to comfort the bitter chill.

Mother Teresa once said that a life not lived for others is not a life. Oh and how I savor that quote. Oh, how I grimace when I read it now. You know why? Because I loved that quote before I changed. I had it pinned up on my wall, giving it a pedestal. But you know what I didn’t give a pedestal back then? Other people that were less fortunate then me. I had the pure audacity to pin that on my wall, when in fact I was the human form of that quote. I myself was the epitome.

I was the epitome of selfishness. The epitome of garbage-ridden and homeless. I was the epitome of empty. The epitome of an unpopulated heart.

But now… I don’t shrink. I don’t shrink in clouded guilt when I see beggars on the highway. You know why? Because I’ve stopped being the epitome. I’ve stopped not stopping. And I’ve started looking at everyone like they’re gold and treated them as so.



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