To many, reaching out to people who they don’t usually interact with or people who tend to be alone is really difficult. However, I knew what it felt like to be lonely — all alone with no friends to lean on or to converse with. I knew that I shouldn’t judge a person based on only what we see and hear about him. I knew that everyone has at least a small amount of goodness in them.
So, in the year of 2014, I reached out.
Flinching at the clamor, I came out of my stupor to find my friend’s hand hovering in front of my face. She can be annoying sometimes, I thought. Currently, I was in a bus with my 6th grade class, going to Salzburg, Austria. It was a field trip where you get to find new friends, my teachers claimed. But I disagreed. Every one of us was already in a group, whether it was the geeks or the jocks or the Asians, where I belonged. So, in my opinion anyway, this “field trip” was pointless. The only thing that got me going was the scenery.
With clouds wrapped around them, the rocky mountains that lined up at the horizon soared into the open skies and demanded every tourist’s utmost attention. It was hard to take my eyes off them, but as I slowly lowered my eyes, a picturesque scenery greeted me. The combination of little houses clustered around and the Salzach River with crystal clear water formed a painting that had no painter. Its beauty rivaled the mysteriousness of the mountains, which was no exaggeration. All in all, this place seemed magical.
When the bus finally came to a halt, we all gathered around for the announcement of the room arrangements. Crossing my fingers, I meandered around my friends, glancing every second at my teachers. I did everything to occupy myself, and failed. Seconds felt like hours, and at last, the announcements were made. I was paired up with two of my friends. Smiling broadly, I raced into our hotel with my friends in tow.
After we got settled in in our respectable rooms, we went out of our room and roamed the hallways. We found out later on that a girl named Megan and her two friends got assigned to the room right next to ours. Even though we were disappointed that Megan and her group of friends were not in our “group”, we tried making conversation with them nonetheless by inviting them over to our room.
The conversions were awkward, until Megan stood up and declared that she needed to use the bathroom. As Megan left, the awkward conversation was nowhere in sight as the atmosphere of the room became a little bit more relaxed. I wondered why for a second, then shrugged it off thinking it was just my imagination — or so I thought.
As the conversation kept going, Megan somehow became our topic of conversation. My friends and Megan’s friends then started to become engrossed in the conversation and completely unaware that I was not joining in the conversation they were almost giddily having. When they finally did realize that I was still there shifting uncomfortably and asked, “Amy, we know that you are nice and all, but can you honestly tell us your opinion on Megan? Isn’t she such an egregious person?”
Honestly, I didn’t know that much about Megan but since my friends wanted an honest answer, I gave them one. I told them that Megan wasn’t actually that bad and began to exonerate Megan in front of my friends. I was nervous with their lurid gazes fixated on me, but as I continued talking, my confidence started to build up. I knew that I was doing the right thing.
But my friends seemed to disagree.
They told me that I was too soft-hearted and they talked as if I betrayed them. I was saddened by the fact that my close friends, of all people, derided about a schoolmate and tried to force me to agree with them. So, I ditched them.
The next morning, I woke up and as I went to the cafeteria for breakfast, I saw Megan sitting alone, confused. She didn’t know that her friends had betrayed her and just sat there, like an outcast. At first, I was conflicted. But, I had already defended Megan and I thought that I should just stick up with what I had said to my friends. So, I went up to Megan and we hit it off. I thought it would be difficult to talk to her since we weren’t that close to each other even though we see each other every day in school. And well, I was wrong with many things before, and I was wrong again. We started talking and I elucidated to her the situation she had gotten herself into. Then, after I was done, there was utter silence.
I didn’t like the silence and fidgeted when she frowned and stared intently at me.
“What?” I asked, scared that I might have said something wrong while I was explaining the whole situation.
After a few torturous seconds, Megan opened her chubby mouth and the words she uttered left me flabbergasted: “Thank you”.
“What for?” I asked incredulously. I thought her response was totally uncalled for.
“Usually, people stick up for their friends, not a classmate you barely know. But you stuck up for me, a person you have never associated with in school before. That means much more to me than my friends just being invective. So, thank you, for defending me.”
This mini-speech of hers shocked me but I had this warm feeling inside that made me realize that I was mirthful. Unbelievably mirthful. This “field trip” might not be that bad at all, now that I really think about it. I felt like I was floating in the clouds, with sunlight tickling at my skin and classical music playing in the background. Maybe my friends being antagonistic wasn’t that bad when I did the right thing.
This was all occurring at the same time and after a while, when I calmed down a little, I grinned broadly at Megan and replied:
“Well, I just followed my instinct and my instinct told me: do the right thing.”