This I Believe

Shana - La Quinta, California
Entered on January 11, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

In seventh grade, association was a big deal. To sit with the older kids on the bus was a must if I wanted to uphold a decent social status as a seventh grader coming into the drastic changes of middle school. Looking back, I tend to wonder why I was so enthralled with the ‘ideal clique’ even though it was merely superficial. Essentially, I was a kind-hearted girl. I never cast a rude remark; I just wouldn’t speak up when others were making snide and condescending comments.

Kyle typically wasn’t a person I’d hangout with, but I had a few classes with him and said hello to him occasionally at lunch. I could tell he was a nice kid, even though we were only a little more than acquaintances. One Day on the bus, a friend of mine named Eric was making fun of Kyle. Kyle had braces, glasses, and wore his pants higher than the average Joe Shmoe. Eric was sitting next to me on the bus, ridiculing Kyle for his hair, clothes, and even nationality. I recall holding back tears upon my sympathy for Kyle and quick handedly chimed in, not on Eric’s side, but on Kyle’s instead.

I told Eric how wrong he was to be criticizing someone for their individualism. For him to hurt Kyle’s pride was uncalled for. Eric and the other eighth graders looked at me with cold contempt and I realized that they probably wouldn’t be my friends much longer. I knew I was standing up for what was right, and a few nasty looks cast my direction wouldn’t have held me back. I repeatedly told Eric that Kyle was the same as everyone, hoping to instill even the slightest bit of decency into his heart. I instantly got up to sit by Kyle to get to know him deeper than his thickly glassed bifocals.

It was then that I realized how far kindness goes, and the slightest words can change someone’s day. Though I lost many friends in the act of defending, I gained an better friendship with a genuinely kind person in the process. After that bus ride, I defined “cool” as ultimately having a kind heart.

I believe that character is a significant representation of who an individual is and what they stand for. Whether it’s helping someone less fortunate, or looking deeper into a situation to fully understand the meaning, I enjoy taking hold of what life has to offer. Sticking up for Kyle impacted my life and has aided in molding me into a young lady with confidence, respect, and leadership. I’ve determined that many of my attributes shine through today because of that first day I stood up for what I believed in. Overlooking my years, I can come to the conclusion to say I am an optimistic leader with drive and motivation that will push me into a bright future with aspiring potential. I aim for more prosperous outcomes in my future to help my school, community, and someday impact major societies.