← Back to all stories

Photo ofundefined

In South Dakota, the home of Mount Rushmore, there is a town called Harrisburg, and in that town there stands a little elementary school. That school was home to some of my worst memories as a child from 2016 to 2020. It was not the school or staff’s fault; it was just an experience I had there. I’ve never really felt comfortable in my own skin, and that elementary school was the place that made me feel that way. It was not fun or easy to go to school, and I didn’t want to go, but I did and I got through it.

When I went to elementary school, I had a tough time making friends, so naturally I tried to fit in. I did that because I didn’t feel people would like me for who I am. I now know this approach is wrong. One thing that I did was I started to talk in a lower voice to sound cooler. I thought it would work, but then someone walked up to me and asked, “Why do you talk like that?”

Then I started to wear different clothes, but they were uncomfortable, so I stopped. That’s when I stopped and just coped with having no friends. The new plan to survive school was to hide away, to blend in so much I basically disappeared. That didn’t get by for long.

I felt I was alone until someone talked to me who I now know as one of my best friends. He made me feel different, noticed, and wanted. There was a fuzzy tingling feeling in my stomach that made me think to myself, “What is this feeling, it’s different, he’s different.”

I didn’t know how to react, so I just stood there not responding. He didn’t go away; instead he was looking at me and acknowledging me. With that moment he became my best friend and also my first ever real friend.

Next, I got to middle school and I loved it there. I had tons of friends, and I was never lonely. I became comfortable in my own skin, and I loved to just hang around and be myself. That was what made me happy with lots of people to talk to and no one ignored me. I felt very likable, if I do say so myself.

Those were the most important moments of my life back in kindergarten to fourth grade in that little elementary school. It was fun, super fun in fact, I loved life from then on; my life was very awesome.

At this moment of my life I had very long hair and I loved it so much. I discovered I was comfortable in my own skin, maybe too comfortable. It was then I realized I was obsessed with my hair. That was when I learned there is a difference between comfortable in your own skin and self-centered. It was a good lesson to learn before I got older. I could have grown up to be a huge jerk. Though I still bought newer clothes, I didn’t let it become who I am. That pretty much saved my life in middle school, let me tell you!

Looking back, I wouldn’t call that experience bad anymore. I felt pretty good about myself at that time because one person was kind enough to talk to me and befriend me. That experience taught me two things: be kind to others knowing it might save someone’s life, and be comfortable in your own skin. That is the most important point in my entire life that I was not confident in myself, but now I’m very independent. I learned how to grow confidence, and that is something I could teach other classmates or other people or even my friends.

© Gannon Yerdon. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.