Chantal White was my first crush in 5th grade. She had luscious blond hair, clear-blue eyes and a beautiful smile to fit her infectious personality. She and I would always play basketball during recess with our friend Andrea, shooting hoops on the court behind the “ blue equipment.” As we approached the end of our last year in elementary school, Chantal ended up in a relationship with Zack Buzard, the new kid that came to our school. I entered the 6th grade with high expectations of being more mature and more responsible. I felt like I had more freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. I was still eager to get into my first relationship. While riding on the school bus my best friend introduced me to Megan Richey. It was kind of ironic her last name was Richey because she always lived on Poor Road. She captured my attention, not just because she was beautiful, but because I wanted to be like her. She had attracted every guy’s attention when she walked into the room.
Megan and I were in a physical education class together. During that time we exchanged questions, shared laughs and it seemed like everything was going well until Trevor Brodt showed up in seventh grade. Trevor became Megan’s boyfriend and since then, Megan and I started to distance ourselves from each other and my chance of being with Megan fell through. 8th grade was the worst year for me. All of my friends were in relationships with other girls and I felt like the odd man out. I wanted to feel loved and wanted someone to appreciate me. This was a tough year for me because instead of doing things for the right reason, I started to do things for the wrong reason. I tried to impress other girls by being someone that I was not. I would offer them to cheat off my homework so I could fit in. The more time I spent with them the more I let them take advantage of me. Throughout eighth grade, everyone formed their own cliques. It was hard for me to fit in because I didn’t fit in. I was teased for being obese and nobody wanted to sit next to the fat kid.
I remember riding the bus home and my neighbor, Chelsea Gregg, asked me to be her boyfriend but I had feelings for another girl. I didn’t know what to tell Chelsea, so I nodded my head no and she responded by saying, “ It’s ok, you’re fat anyways.” I felt so insulted by her remark and that’s when I started to overindulge myself with food. Katie Myhr caught my attention not like any other girl has done before. She was honest, open, accepting and she was the superintendent’s daughter. I tried out for the basketball team and played as a switch player: someone who plays for both Varsity and Junior Varsity. I wanted to impress Katie by showing that I could play well. There were a couple of moments where I outshined the team and she told me I did a great job and she also caught me when I performed poorly too. I would skip my advocacy class just to spend time with her. She was very athletic herself. She played for the girls Varsity team, she knew she was good and her confidence attracted me that much more to her. She and I had a steady friendship going on until she fell for Tyler King, the best athlete in our school.
Tyler was a multi-talented athlete. He played basketball, baseball, and track and placed in Varsity for all three sports. After basketball games Katie would wait for Tyler to come out of the locker room to hang out. I was so jealous and built animosity towards Tyler because he was stealing the girl I grew the closest to. Towards the end of my eighth grade year, Katie told me she was moving to Arizona because her father received a better job offer as a superintendent for one of the schools down there. As I was heading out to the bus on the last day of school, I saw Katie with Tyler. I hesitated to head straight out to the bus because I wanted to tell her I’ll miss her and how much she meant to me. As I took a couple steps toward her, Katie’s friend Taylor stopped me. She told me Katie doesn’t have time to spend with me and I should leave her alone.
As summer went along, not being able to tell her how much she meant to me ate me alive. During my freshman year of high school, I decided that I was done with girls. Girls were complicated people and I didn’t understand why they didn’t want to spend time with me. I took my frustration out with overeating food. I gained 50 lbs in a year! Being overweight wasn’t just hard for me but the toughest part for me was that it was the year my parents declared bankruptcy. My parents overused their credit and I couldn’t do the majority of the functions a typical high school student would be able to do. I couldn’t do sports, I couldn’t hang out with my friends as often as I would have liked since I lived thirty minutes south of the school and I just wasn’t popular enough. It seemed like when there was a birthday party of one of my friends, the whole class would be invited to his birthday party but me. I felt depressed and had nobody to turn to.
During my freshmen year, my brother Yaseen stole from my parents too. He stole money from my mom, flaunted his new car and he broke the front door three times without helping my father clean up his mess. I always thought freshman year was supposed to be a fun year but as it progressed towards the end of my first year in high school, it continued declining for me. During adolescents I was excluded from the cool kids and people were not very accepting because of me being overweight. During school I was focused more on my love life and how to embrace the bankruptcy situation. Throughout school, I was never well-liked and I was an outcast. Adolescents are a confusing and stressful time period where I was faced to understand my emotions, develop my self-esteem and grow up more quickly than the ordinary high school student.
With my experiences, I have become more aware that adolescents go through so many experiences whether it is building relationships, family issues or just personal growth. I am more open minded and better prepared to help encourage students to achieve their full potential because I have relatable experiences that I can apply with my own project. I fear I can be too assertive sometimes where I can talk more than I listen but with my work, through this class, I can become a stronger listener and let the students speak up more so they can take more initiative in their lives and empower the individual to help place themselves in a better position than they were in before.