No Harm

Jessica - Wellesley, Massachusetts
Entered on March 9, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

I had never seen my sister cry: my sister, who never shows even a prick of emotion, who never removes her veneer of indifference. And yet, there she sat, defending herself. She’s always gotten straight A’s in school, goes to Yale, and never asks for anything. She was always the perfect one and I was always the bad seed. I had forever blamed this misfortune on her, assuming her intention was to make me look bad. I accused her of this and she hit a level of emotion that I had never seen from her. She poured her heart into my hands, telling me that everything she had done, she had done for me. She never gloated or basked in her achievements so as not to make me feel insignificant or lesser. What she hadn’t realized, however, is that this act beamed maturity and humbleness and perfection. Anyone would have looked that much more pathetic in comparison.

I felt awful. She had molded her life around my happiness. She had done everything for me, and I accused her of overlooking me. I knew I had done wrong, and I knew I had to change something. I decided I would no longer point a finger at someone and hold a grudge without knowing his or her true intentions.

The first time I used this new consideration for intention was when it seemed that my coach Cathy-Jo’s mission was to find something I had done wrong, even in a sea of my hardest and most perfect work. It’s pretty upsetting to have one of your best meets end with an insult. But, I wasn’t sure of her intentions. Knowing her, I didn’t think her honest motive was to discourage me. But, I didn’t want to question or disrespect my coach, so I asked my mom to talk to her for me. Upon hearing how I felt, Cathy-Jo was stunned. She hadn’t even realized her negativity. Since then, she has been enormously encouraging and this change has helped me improve.

During another instance, as I walked into science class one day, one of my best friends Anna, more supportive than a mother, than a grandmother, touched my hair with unease. She usually praised my hair, calling it gorgeous but I was having a bad hair day. The gel had seemed to multiply in my hand. As she touched my disgustingly crinkly, straw-like hair, she asked me what I had done to it. I told her it was simply a mistake and she begged, “Please don’t do this to your hair ever again!” The old, hastily judgmental me would have been hurt. I would have jumped to the conclusion that her clear intention was to upset me. But the new me searched for a motivation. I then realized that she only wants everyone to see my hair and think of my hair the way she always has. She only cares for me. With this realization, I released my contempt and mirrored her loving smile.