When I was nine years old, I moved from Denver, Colorado to Florida. I was devastated when I had to leave my friends, my family, and everything I had known since I was born. In my new hometown, my parents enrolled me in a small private school. Everyone there had been together since kindergarten and it was hard for me to not be accepted right away. My first day there a girl named Lisa walked over to me and introduced herself. I was polite but inside I was thinking, “Oh no, I hope I make other friends. She isn’t very popular.” Next, a girl named Rayna introduced herself to me. She, like Lisa, hung out with the unpopular group of girls. I tried and tried for my entire fourth grade year to get into the “in crowd” which proved to be no easy task. Finally, I made it. Even so, I was the girl chosen last for our little kickball games and the one who everyone made fun of when they were in the mood to feel superior to someone. One girl controlled it all. She silently played everyone against each other and caused the most trouble for me. All the girls were vying for her attention so they would step on me to get lifted up. One day, my “friend” Ashley had a sleepover. All the girls were eating ice cream and suddenly Ashley got the idea to take a spoonful of ice cream and wipe it all over my face. It seems simple and innocent, but it hurt me. It hurt because in my eyes it represented underlying issues: they didn’t like me. I wasn’t pretty enough or athletic enough or whatever they wanted me to be. I ran into the other room and sobbed for ten minutes and no one came in to comfort me—except Natalie. She was one of the girls who stood out from the in crowd. She was friends with everyone and no one had any issues with her. I realized then what I really wanted to be like. After that, Natalie and I were best friends. I realized that everyone at my small private school had something good to offer and I became someone worth being. I had more friends than I ever would have if I’d have kept trying to be in with the “in crowd.” What surprised me the most is that after I stopped trying so hard, the mean girls tried to be friends with me. I no longer had to fight for my position with the popular girls. Instead, they all became my friends. Still, to this day I believe in acceptance. I don’t think we have to agree with people or become like people to be friends with them. I hope that I’m never seen as the snobby girl who won’t talk to certain people. I believe that by accepting everyone, we can solve problems. Some people may say that I’m selling out on my beliefs. I disagree. If I want to influence someone, the best way is to be their friend—somebody they admire. Acceptance is all it takes to change someone’s life, so why can’t we use it to change the lives of everyone we come into contact with? In this I believe.
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