“What's the plan for this weekend?”
“Uhh I don't know, we could go to the mall in Manchester and then get lunch.” suggested someone. After some silence and no other ideas, we planned to meet at the mall at 11:30 on Saturday. The three of us would hang out every weekend. Sometimes we would be doing something fun like going to the mall or just hanging out at my house. They always liked to make Tik Toks, go shopping, or take nice photos together. This was new to me because I grew up on a farm and always loved playing in the mud, roughhousing, and listening to country music. I started to grow out of all of those things and even began to start hating country music. This was a surprise to everyone but I saw it as just changing and growing up.
The next couple weeks I kept asking myself, Am I changing because I'm growing up or because of my friends? Would I still be listening to country music and rough housing with my other friends if I didn't meet them? I wasn't sure but I couldn't just not talk to them, they are my best friends and know me better than anyone else. I can't find other people. I didn’t want to upset them by asking a dumb question or ignoring them. I continued thinking about this idea that everyone put in my head from little comments: _Why do you go shopping so much?¨ ¨Stop being such a girl and get your hands dirty.¨ ¨It's just dirt.¨ _Was I just taking these little comments too far and overthinking? I decided to just carry on with my life and go to the barn in Auburn that I ride at. I just started going there so I didn't know anyone. It was very awkward but I got used to it. I didn't get to hang out with my friends every weekend anymore and felt very distant. Maybe everyone was right after all.
After a short time, I began to get to know Sam, a girl who works at the barn. I never talked to her because she grew up with brothers and was a lot more country and tough than me. She was also a lot older and I figured she just looked at me as a little kid. Having a friend at the barn made it so much more fun and enjoyable.
Then, because of COVID, I finally found myself again. Because of COVID and Sam living so close to the barn, it was better for me not to go back and forth all the time. I started staying at Sam's house then going to the barn. We did everything together, all day, everyday. We made fun out of everything. From the large loud paper shavings bags that flew out of the dump truck on Wednesdays, to a dolly that we now look at and use as a stroller to push each other up the steep dirt rocky hills.
When I was young, I used to be a tomboy and was always playing in the dirt. I had all guy friends and was very rough. Once I started doing everything with Sam, riding, cleaning up the yard, sharing our crazy stories, barn chores, that side of me came back and I felt like myself. I didn't worry about something I was going to say or that I wouldn't fit in. I did more things that interested me and didn’t feel like I had to try to have fun. The smell of sweaty horses and freshly cut grass on a warm sunny summer day felt a lot better than the scent of new clothes and the strong cologne from Abercrombie. I learned that I shouldn't change who I am for others, because being myself is a lot more fun.
© Kylie Harrison. 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.