This I Believe

Taylor - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 17, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

The Ability to Ignore the Ignorant

I believe in the ability to rise above insults. This ability is a gift I’ve had since elementary school, and I’ve discovered that it’s an essential personality trait for the unpopular kid attempting to survive high school. I’ve always been able to ignore those that try to break my spirit.

When I was a fifth-grader at Sope Creek Elementary, I usually hung around after school because both of my parents had jobs that prevented them from being at home. The majority of the time spent in the after school program consisted of four-square, a game in which four people stand in a square, which is broken up into four smaller squares, and hit a ball from square to square. If you win a round, you move up to the next square, and continue up until you are “king.” If you lose a round, you leave the square to join a line, and everyone else moves up. It sounds monotonous, and it is, but then again, the kids in the after school program were somewhat easily entertained.

I remember one particular afternoon at Sope Creek. My friends and I were, as usual, playing four-square in the parking lot when a group of seventh-graders strutted up to us. I’m not sure whether they were bored or had nothing better to do than play with fifth-graders, but the reason is not important. They stepped in line as if they didn’t care less whether we wanted them to be there or not, but we made no protest; after all, they had two years on us.

During one round, I hit the ball too hard, and it bounced across the parking lot and rolled beneath a car. This sort of thing had happened before, and we always managed to get the ball back somehow, but apparently my mistake was completely intolerable for one of the seventh-graders. He whirled on me and swore: “Hey, retard. Why can’t you aim? Did your idiot mom drop you on your head?”

I don’t know whether he wanted me to try to fight him or start crying, and I guess I’ll never know because I laughed. I laughed at him; I laughed at his anger; I laughed at his inability to accept the fact that a fifth-grader like me could make a simple mistake like losing a ball.

Since that day, I have ignored every attempt to lower my self-esteem, no matter how crushing it might be for others. I don’t care what people will say. I feel that everyone should approach every endeavor with this sort of attitude. Follow your dreams; don’t worry about what anybody else thinks. Let them say what they want; let them mock you. Don’t give up; laugh.