ANN ANONYMOUS / Teen Columnist
Well as another school year is underway, I can’t help but notice some consistency in the way that peers establish and navigate through their classroom relationships.
Funny how where a friendship once blossomed, a dynamic dance now replaces the laughter and easiness with judgment suspicion and overall nastiness. I witness first-hand the crushing blow experienced by a Grade 8 student who made the mistake of assuming that the friends she had missed so dearly over the summer had long since dismissed her because she apparently was no longer “cool enough.” Further to this assumed lack of “coolness” was the distinction of having “ugly clothes.”
I was left feeling both angry and sad. Had I ever treated a “friend” with such unkindness? Had I ever demonstrated a shallow and unintelligible way of selecting people to share in my high school year follies? Not to mention my personal development time after said classes? I had; I know I had. Why?
It goes back to an issue I have address before today; multiple issues, actually combined. Self-confidence, keeping promises, failure — most of the things I have written about to date.
I was forced into another ponder. Why? We have the cognitive knowledge do we put ourselves above others. Jessie Jackson once said, “Never look down on anybody, unless you are helping him up” What makes practicing that which we all look for so very difficult? I have only been able to come back to authenticity. Authenticity of self, of actualization, of purpose and of goal. I was forced to once again accept that I had not practiced all that I know to be true. I made and renewed a commitment to myself.
I committed to standing and bearing witness for my peers. I committed to not having an opinion, not judging. I committed myself to my own good friendship first, and further offering that friendship without expectation or reservation. I committed to being a better person.
I have been forced into an acknowledgment that not everybody will have the good fortune to live in a home full of love and support. I have been forced into the painful acknowledgment that those factors alone affect every part of our human development. I have been forced into the acknowledgment that in my judgments and opinions I have both compromised further the very people that need my love and support the most.
In addition I have to acknowledge that “soul pain” felt by those who need a friend, a peer, or even those things aside — maybe just a break —that that pain alone deserves at the very least a validation. I have no right, nor do we as a people, have the right to take the dignity from another. I may not like them, I may not understand them, but I will never again allow myself to take from somebody what they do not willingly offer me.
This is the legacy I choose to leave. What will yours be?