Always See the Purple

Chandini - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 20, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: tolerance

I believe in always seeing Purple. That is, I believe in exploring stereotypes before accepting them.

I live in a place where most of the people see blue. They think that those who see red live in the middle of the country. That their views are meaningless. I don’t know what I am. I’m not eighteen yet. Yet in this city there’s an unconscious pressure to lean leftward. At my school, where most aren’t old enough to vote, students shun others who are conservative in their views. I’ve begun to realize that I’m not as liberal as I hoped. In fact, I think I’m closer to the middle. Purple.

I pride myself on being politically correct. However, I’m judgmental.

It began with my father’s unforgettable phrase “You have to do something this summer. Something productive for college.” I just wanted to do nothing. After a hectic sophomore year, I wanted nothing more than sleep and T.V. I applied for a summer program with Habitat for Humanity only after my dad printed out the application himself and sat with me while I filled it out. As I filled out the application, I only thought to myself, “I don’t want to meet freaks on this trip”. My already low expectations fell lower when I found out that my only location options were Missouri and South Dakota. As red as red can get.

I received my acceptance letter. My dad wouldn’t let me pass this up. What’s more, I would be staying in South Dakota. When I told my friends where I’d be going that summer, they wished me good luck, most likely because of the location. I was terrified, but excited, too.

I arrived in South Dakota before the program started with my family. We explored the area. After the hustle of California, endless miles of greenery agreed with me. While there, my parents pointed out something interesting: there were no gyms there — no concern with appearance. At first I found this sickening, but afterwards, liberating. Despite the lack of diversity and few options for vegetarians, I enjoyed the solitude.

I was the first to arrive at the airport. I met the councelors. It turned out well; I liked the people. I get along better with adults, so this wasn’t exactly reassuring. We waited at the airport and there they were. Fifteen other teenagers. I cannot describe all ten days of this trip in 500 words or less, but I can try.

I met people that I would have never befriended had I been in California. There, on that Native American reservation, nobody knew each other. We all started at the same place. No where else would I participate in a sweat lodge or bear my soul to people I hardly knew. I actually became good friends with a devout Christian who’s not at all that liberal. In fact she’s purple.

Some people are red. Some are blue. But for now, I believe in being purple.