"Would you rather date her or me?"

When I was in elementary school, my best friend moved away. Four years later, in fourth grade, she finally moved back. I was overjoyed!

But our friendship wasn't the same as it used to be.  She would always tell me she was prettier, better than me, etc. 

One day at lunch, she went up to every boy in the cafeteria, pointed at me, and said things like, "Would you date her?" and, "Would you rather date her or me?" Every single guy said they would rather date her. 

I was only in fourth grade, and my best friend had just become my very first bully. 

"...if it weren't for your attitude problem."

Junior year of high school I started dating the sweetest, smartest, and most handsome guy I'd ever met. It was heaven. But soon we started fighting a lot and we broke up and got back together a million times.

In April and we were supposed to be married. I got a little bit of cold feet, so he called off our wedding. I was devastated. 

About a month later, he started acting suspicious. He was on his phone a lot, changed his password, and never let me touch it. I saw him texting another girl that he wanted to be with her. He packed all of his stuff up in the middle of the night and left.

Late June he left for basic training for the Army. He messaged me the morning he shipped out, saying, "If you stay faithful while I'm gone, we might get married when I come back. You're my one, if it weren't for your attitude problem."

I waited two months and heard nothing from him. That was a month ago. Now I'm with a really sweet guy who goes out of his way to make sure I know he loves me every single day and that he thinks I'm the most beautiful creature on Earth. We're planning on getting married on Halloween.

"Thank you for all you do!"

A few years ago, I landed my dream job, but it wasn't what I thought it would be. My supervisor always demoralized me. Nothing I ever did was efficient enough or even warranted a passing "thank you." I was constantly criticized and told that I needed to be better. I felt so dejected by the end of the year. I was stressed, anxious, and couldn't sleep at night because my dream job was turning into a nightmare. 

At the end of the year, I quit and got hired for a different position under a new supervisor. A very kindly, warm person that actually made me feel like a human being. 

This new supervisor randomly sent me a note that said: "Thank you for all you do!" I realized that I HAD found my dream job, and that I had always been pretty good at it. For me, it wasn't the wrong job; it was just the wrong supervisor. 


"That's not how repeat is spelled."

When I was in 5th grade, I was a spelling champ. I always received 100s on every test, and I studied really hard. One Friday, we had a test, and there was a bonus question that asked, "What is your pet's name?"

Before we adopted our dog his name was Pete, but since my brother's name is Pete, we named the dog Repete. So I wrote "Repete" on my test, and the next Monday I received my test back, with a big red "X" over my bonus question answer. I waited patiently until recess to confront my teacher about it. I have always been very soft spoken and shy, and it took a lot for me to confront my teacher. I explained that this is how my family spelled my dog's name, and I gave her the backstory. 

She looked at me, frowned and said "Well, that's not how repeat is spelled." I dug in my heel and fought, albeit quietly, with her for a couple minutes. She eventually said that because it was spelled incorrectly, I would definitely not be getting credit for that point. I was heartbroken and upset.

Obviously, this is such a small insignificant speck on the atrocities scale, but picture this: a small, very shy child gets up the nerve to confront someone about an injustice, and gets shot down. The teacher must have known how wrong this was, but she used her position of power to make it clear to a 10 year old that people in positions of authority are always right, and the little guy can never succeed when they stick up for themselves.

It was one of the last times I stood up and defended myself in a time of injustice until college, and even then, I was wary. I didn't think I had the power to change any injustices, or speak up for myself when I was clearly right. I think it all goes back to this one instance, which my fifth grade teacher probably doesn't even remember.

"There is just something about you..."

At the end of high school and beginning of college, I dated a guy who I thought I loved. He was intelligent and seemed to really understand me when nobody else did. The first year was great, but after that, he started becoming angry easily and yelling at me a lot. Eventually, he started hitting me and raping me.

Most nights ended in him crying and apologizing. One night, however, he looked at me and said. "There is just something about you that makes good guys do bad things."

I'm now married to a great guy who helped me escape that other relationship. Though my husband has told me it wasn't my fault, I still wonder sometimes what it was about me that caused the abuse. I don't think I will ever be 100% okay.

"You know nothing about story writing."

I was sitting at a table in art class next to this annoying, rude boy. He was telling me about this fan fic idea he had. 

After I gave him my opinion on it (which he ASKED for), he started acting all offended and said, "No one asked for your shitty input," and "You know nothing about story writing."

This stuck with me because I want to be an author. If I supposedly don't know anything about writing, then maybe I should give up.

"Who do you chill with?"

In third grade, I started sitting with a group of girls at lunch. I didn't really talk to them, but they seemed really nice, and for some reason I felt very safe in their company. 

One day one of the girls turned to me with a smile. I was excited to start to get to know her, but then she asked me, albeit in a harmless tone, "Who do you chill with?"

She was basically asking who my actual friends were, implying it was clearly very random to her that I had chosen to sit there. 

What I wanted to say was, "You guys!" But instead I scrambled and said something like, "Oh, people at a different lunch period." 

This was the first time I realized my role in the world as an observer, a fly on the wall, who is extremely stimulated by her surroundings, but whose impact on said surroundings is less profound. 

"...until I fit in."

I've always admired my mom. She married my dad, moved to the US from Mexico, and got her citizenship via naturalization. She worked hard to learn English, and worked even harder to provide for four us after a bitter divorce.

At one point she was working three jobs, and she still always showed us the positive even though we were really poor at the time. She often faced a lot of racism in our small town because of her (and our) heritage. 

One day, I asked her how she does it. A Hispanic woman in a small, Midwestern community making ends meet with a smile on her face, not letting the haters bring her down. She looked at me, smiled and said, "If I'm in a new place, I squish and squeeze until I fit in." 

That's always stuck with me. She made a place for herself and worked hard for it. I'm lucky if I'll ever grow to be half the woman she is.

"I'll see you in August."

I had a lot of issues with depression and suicidal thoughts in high school. Junior year, I took a college history class with a teacher who was known to be laid back. 

When the end of the year neared, I became wary of the summer because I would no longer see this wonderful teacher. He had become the only thing I looked forward to, and I think he knew that. 

When I went to say goodbye, I asked him, "What was your favorite part of this year?"

He smiled and said, "You were my favorite." 

With a few tears cascading down my face, I said, "I'll miss you, you know?" 

And he nodded, smiling, and said, "And I'll see you in August." 

It was because of him telling me I had to be back there in August that I stopped feeling suicidal. I stopped feeling as sad. Following a pretty awful breakup that summer, and a summer of pains, coming back to school and seeing my teacher's bright face and calming demeanor made me feel whole again.

I realized that he wasn't just my teacher. He surpassed that and became my friend. And seeing his face light up with such simple joys, well, it made me feel at home. And there is no place I'd rather be.