This I Believe

Seth - Webster, New York
Entered on March 1, 2007

I believe people are like snow. In the springtime, whenever I look out and see the snow gradually melting away, I find certain patches of snow lasting longer. In the large piles, the snow divides the heat and shares the cold so that there’s less heat to melt each individual ice crystal. That way, the whole pile resists melting and the crystalline beauty lasts longer. With people, sharing one’s anxiety and suffering with others dilutes and lessens it, while sharing the joy and wisdom benefits everyone, just like how the snow dilutes the heat and shares the cold.

When I was young boy, I was different. I was transferred from a Montessori school to the Webster public school system at the beginning of elementary school. Everyone already had friends and didn’t need another one. I was the new kid that would sit alone, while everyone else talked with their friends about all the things they would do together at recess or during the weekend. I was a snowflake who fell late and didn’t land in a pile, and I began to melt away in my own puddle of anxiety and resentment.

By middle school I was essentially an emotional wreck. Middle school is when everyone is insecure and needs to attack anyone different order to be self-confident. In middle school, I was still different, and therefore a common target. Often I’d find myself peeling cheese out of my binder or listening to half-whispered derogatory and sometimes racist comments. Every time that happened, I’d feel my cheeks burn and a warm sweat develop on the back of my neck, right underneath the collar. The heat was unbearable.

As middle school neared its end, it became easier as everyone was gaining confidence, including me. One day, in high school, I shifted over from my usual seat in math class to sit next to someone who was having problems understanding how to solve the math problems. He was pored over his five subject notebook and complaining that he didn’t understand the questions. I looked over his work, and pointed out that he had forgotten a negative sign. All of a sudden, I felt a sense of purpose and importance. Now, when I look up in math class I occasionally find my new friend’s notebook in my face as he whispers, “what did I do wrong?”

There are still times when I’m the lone snowflake that fell away from the pile; times when I’ll be hearing people talk and joke and all I can say is “I don’t get it.” Still, I now feel the “cold” of others much more than I have before. I can go unload my problems by ranting for three minutes and twenty seconds about a low score on a standardized test to a friend. I can go rethink how I want to live my life with consideration for the wisdom of my peers, mentors, and pupils. That way, I go dilute the heat and share the cold, and preserve my ice crystal.