Cowardly lion? I think not

courtney - taylor mill, Kentucky
Entered on December 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: courage

Courage is a trait that not many people have, and those that don’t wish they did have it. It is a valuable trait to have because it makes people emotionally strong. It is a characteristic that most people are born with, but it is something that can be learned throughout life. Courage includes doing things like standing up for yourself, family and your friends. Many people can muster up the strength to stand up for others but some can find it difficult to stand up for themselves. One event made me the outspoken and courageous person that I am today.

In high school, I had always been a very studious student. I always had A’s and B’s. I cared about my grades, but started to think more of what people thought of me. For my senior year, I changed groups of friends. I wasn’t unpopular but I just wanted to seem cool and hang out with the “in” crowd. But the crowd I chose to be friends with were not the brightest crayons in the box and didn’t have the best reputations. They were known to go out every night, do drugs, and were always in trouble in the principal’s office at school. I didn’t mind though, I just wanted to be accepted into that group.

In the beginning I would have never guessed how much they would change the true me. At first, I thought being in their group was a good time, but they ended up bringing out the worse in

me. The dynamics of my character gradually started changing. They pressured me into trying drugs and heavy drinking. I also joined them on adventurous activities during school nights that I probably shouldn’t have been joining in on. My grades started to fall and the relationships I had with my family and true friends were quickly disappearing. I didn’t really see myself changing until it was too late.

One day at the mall changed everything. We were in Macy’s and one of the girls suggested we steal a bunch of clothes. I knew I would never have enough money to pay for them all, and since I was going out on a nightly basis, I needed more clothes to keep me from repeating outfits because I hate doing that. I was initially reluctant, but they kept on encouraging me to join them. They said, “We’ve done this so many times. It’s fine. Just act cool, like nothing’s wrong”. Unfortunately, I eventually agreed. I felt like I could not say no to them, because I didn’t want to seem un-cool and didn’t want them to think differently of me.

As we were leaving the store with clothes under own and some in our bags, a security guard asked us to look in our bags to see if we had anything. He knew what we were doing. We said we didn’t have anything, but our faces gave us away. He checked our bags and saw all of the clothes that we had taken.

He radioed for backup and other security guards soon joined him. Being surrounded by them in the store was the most embarrassing moment of my life. Everyone in Macy’s was staring at us, and they knew what we had done. I still suffer consequences from that day, like being banned from Macy’s for two years. That was nothing.

The consequences that my family had for me was even worse than the law. My parents wouldn’t even talk to me, let alone even look in my direction. I could tell my face just disgusted

them at this point. It was hard to see people I love deeply to be so disappointed in me. They took everything away from me, including my car, phone and freedom. I realized then that I was so caught up in that group I couldn’t see what was occurring. I had changed.

I went through a numerous amount of consequences for something so stupid. Now, I realize that was the best lesson I have ever learned. I later told the girls that I could no longer be friends with them because of how I was around them. I did stupid things when I was with them, and my general attitude about everything was awful.

They didn’t seem too upset that I would no longer be their friend, it was like they understood why. I told them that they would regret everything they’re doing now later on in their life. That ended up being true.

One of the girls, Allie, has already been kicked out of the University of Kentucky for having all failing grades. I am glad I got out of the situation earlier, rather than now in college. That could have been me possibly being kicked out of school, if I didn’t leave their group of friends. Even though I wasn’t friends with the popular group anymore, I didn’t care because I started to be myself again. My true friends forgave me and I was so relieved.

It took a lot of courage from within to stand up to them. Standing up for yourself is not always an easy thing to do. But the rewards from it are well worth it. From that event, I am a much more emotionally strong person. I am no longer afraid to stand up for myself, and tell others what I am thinking. It is something that I value because I am much stronger now. I will never change the person I am again just to be friends with a certain group of people. I am glad I learned that lesson.