We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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All my life I have been a reserved kid. I would never really get into trouble, but I had a bit of a hard time making friends. The only friends I had were my two cousins that lived in the apartment above me. Up until the later half of third grade, I didn't have many friends so my days were filled with loneliness. I also didn't really like school. I would always beg my mom to let me stay home and the result of all my skipping was that on the final day of my first third-grade year, I got a letter saying I would be held back. My reaction was that I would lose the small amount of friends I had, which was a nightmare to me and made me dislike school even more than I already did. 

Eventually my family had to move, and I moved away from my two cousins. I had to switch schools, which felt like a fresh start for me. During the move I made a vow to myself that I would make friends and not allow myself to get held back again. My first day at the new school eventually came. I started a month later than everyone else, and my first day was typical for a new kid. Everyone was intrigued at the new face. Me? I was a little bewildered, but my teacher introduced me to everyone nonetheless. She told me to sit next to someone who introduced himself and his friends, one of them being a kid named Brennan. 

Eventually recess came along and I told Brennan that I would climb to the top of the highest place I could reach and jump off. I wanted to impress my new classmates. I climbed up to the top of the Spider Pyramid Net, a ten foot tall tower made of netting. Looking down, I stood there for a few moments and thought about my previous anti-social ways. Then, I took a breath and jumped. 

I flew through the air and then landed on the ground, doing a roll to break the fall. I stood back up with my head held high. My new classmates gasped and cheered for me. After that a lot of people started talking to me more and that’s how I met my lifelong friends. Around eighth grade I started to revert back to my awkward behavior from the past because I was going through puberty at the time, so I was trying to figure out who I was. Luckily, I still had all of my friends. 

Then highschool started. I still had my friends from middle school, but I wouldn't be able to see them everyday like I did before. I wasn't too discouraged because I had started a new school before, so I knew I could do it again. I couldn’t make friends by jumping off of a Spider Pyramid Net, but I had more confidence in myself and my ability to make friends. Eventually, I found other people with the same interests as me. I was still somewhat reserved in my first meeting with them, but as the years went on, my new friends helped me come out of my shell even more, and I am genuinely happy I've met them. 

© Joel Latimer. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.