What I Have Learned as a Fourteen Year Old Heading to High School

In fourteen years on this planet, if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s this: Kids can hurt. (I’m no exception myself.)

A few years ago, I would slap someone in the stomach when I disagreed with them. My hand would fly and before anyone knew, they would be doubling in pain. But it only lasted for about ninety seconds. I don’t know how I ended up stopping, but eventually I learned to use words. Should’ve learned it in kindergarten when we were taught the (in)famous I-message: “I don’t like it when ____________. It makes me feel ____________. Please stop.” And it is always important to look straight into their eyes.

I remember a friend I had around the same time(who moved away a while ago), and she, too, had a similar habit. Together, we could beat someone up, but we both ceased to cause pain. I’m unsure of how, but it simply happened. I assume we both realized that it hurt.

The other day, another friend mentioned one of the so-called “popular” kids of our school. In what seemed to be envy, she cursed at them for “trying too hard” and “growing up too fast.” And although, like every teenage girl, I wished to be accepted by them, I had no desire to join my friend in the ridicule of the school celebrities; when, in that moment I realized something: We, as a society, have held the stereotype of the “popular girls” to always be the “gossip girls,” when more often than not, it is quite the opposite. The common students of the school often start and spread rumors about those certain envied kids. It was then I decided: I would not talk negative about anyone behind their back. I would not insult their personal love lives or their grades. Nor their posture or their choice of clothing. Why? Because it hurts. It always does, no matter who they are.

I recall one afternoon three years ago. School had just ended for the day and I was walking home alongside two of my friends, whom I will call Jenny and Maya. I remember them isolating me as they went on to talk about someone named “Sarah,” whom I had never met. I overheard statements such as, “Sarah is so nosy”, “Sarah is so annoying”, “I hate Sarah.” Clearly, Sarah, whoever she was, must’ve been a horrible person. When Jenny said to Maya in a low voice, barely audible to me (who was lagging behind), “When you say Sarah, you do mean…, right?” Her eyes flashed towards me for a second. A if-you-blink-you-miss-it second. And in that if-you-blink-you-miss-it second, the truth came rushing to me. Sarah, the horrible, nosy, annoying, much hated Sarah? Me. I was Sarah.

Clearly, Maya and Jenny were oblivious to my figuring out, as they continued with their derision of Sarah, a.k.a me. I kept silent. I listened to their complaints. Eventually we separated as we arrived at our homes. I went to my room, and I cried. I cried because every word they had said was a piece of me ripped off. I cried because I believed them and in all those flaws. I cried because their insults were needles in my skin. I cried because it hurt.

Nevertheless, these were only the tip of an iceberg I have only just begun to face. After all, I have only just begun high school. I have four years ahead of me of what could be either hell or heaven. I decide.

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