This I Believe

Tess - Portland, Oregon
Entered on June 7, 2007

The first day of third grade consisted of emptying your markers in the communal tub, getting to know the other students at your assigned table and selecting a locker mate. My best friend was in my class and on the first remark that we could choose our locker partners, our eyes shot across the room towards each other, sparkling at the excitement of the freedom of alphabetical constraint. I don’t remember how the chaotic decision-making process was planned on being carried out, but I do remember my teacher announcing we had a transfer student who could choose first. Since she didn’t know anybody my teacher asked who would like to be her locker partner, clueless to the silent and rapid agreements made throughout the classroom within the first 10 seconds of this announcement. The new girl sat quietly, looking around the room and waiting for an arm to rise, but none did.

She was big for her age, larger than any other girl or boy in the class and in most of the 3rd or 4th grade. Her cheeks were puffy, her hair frizzy and she smelled of body odor that nobody else in the class had yet to develop. The class set in silence as 10, 15, 20 seconds passed. Her head sank in embarrassment. I reached my hand up said I’d like to be her partner if she would like to be mine.

I hated sharing a locker with her all year long, but I knew it was the right thing to do all year long too. I believe in doing the right thing, even when it’s the last thing you want to do.

While there are so many times in my life when being selfish seems to make the most sense, I think I overlook the importance in seeing the big picture. By placing myself back at in the third grade and remembering how badly I felt for this girl and how this simple gesture, even though it felt so big at the time, really made a difference to her.

The answer seemed to be so simple at the age of nine. Sometimes with the complications that come with growing up, I lose track of the right answer and only see what I want to. Now that I can do what I what whenever I want I don’t stop enough to think how my actions truly affect others. Whether I let somebody in while driving, give a dollar to a homeless person or donate time or money to a worthy cause, it makes me feel better to know I did the right thing.