This I Believe

Cara - Plantation, Florida
Entered on October 11, 2006

Imagine what tomorrow would be like if someone held the door for you, bent down when you dropped something and picked it up, and complimented you as soon as you entered a room. It would be a pretty good day, right? It’s astounding to think that your day was made by a few random acts of kindness, a few polite gestures on someone else’s part that required nearly no effort. It may not seem like much, but this is why I believe that it doesn’t take a lot to be somebody’s hero.

When I was in 5th grade, an overweight girl named Marcia came to my school, who quickly became the subject of many rude comments and cruel jokes. People called her “whale,” and when she became upset they would taunt her by saying, “What are you going to do, sit on me?” I didn’t know her, but one day while we both sat out of P.E with injuries, I decided to strike up a conversation with her to avoid an extremely awkward half-hour of smiling at one another and looking the other way.

We ended up having a lot of fun that day, laughing and telling stories of our childhoods. Before I knew it, Marcia was coming to me to talk or when she needed somebody to cheer her up after being teased.

Some people teased me for being kind to Marcia and many gawked when I waved “hi” to her in the hallways. However, I never gave in to their cruelty and simply shrugged them off.

One day the 5th grade had a picnic in a park, and Marcia’s mother came to chaperone the trip. On the way there I overheard Marcia say to her mother, “That girl over there is my friend Cara. She is the nicest girl in the world.”

I have always considered myself a nice person, but this surprised me. I was even more confused the next week when people told me that Marcia had said that I was her best friend, and asked if it were true. In truth, the answer was no. I had never actually considered Marcia as much more than an acquaintance, a casual friend at best. I was baffled; I wondered how Marcia could possibly consider ME, someone who rarely saw her, her best friend. One day, the answer struck me. With a sinking heart I realized that the only reason that I was Marcia’s best friend, was that I was her only friend. It was then that I realized that I could make a monumental difference in somebody’s life by simply treating them with respect. I had benefited Marcia’s life by being polite to her and by providing her a shoulder to cry on.

I haven’t spoken to Marcia in over four years, but the lesson I learned from knowing her will last me a lifetime. It doesn’t take a lot to be somebody’s hero, and no matter who you are, you can be somebody’s hero, too.