By Laurel Button, 7th grader and cast member in this weekend’s CTC performance of The Hundred Dresses, adapted from Eleanor Estes’ Newbery Honor and Caldecot Medal book, set in the 1930’s. When Wanda Petronski tells classmates that she has a hundred dresses — even though she wears the same one everyday — she endures relentless teasing. While the heroine, Maddie, doesn’t tease Wanda, she does nothing to stop it for fear of being teased herself.
Look at me; I’m the typical American teenager. I’m in Seventh Grade. I obsess about how I look. I love to hang out with friends. Now, look inside me; you’ll see someone completely different. Someone who’d rather read than watch television. Someone who can’t tell the difference between Jay-Z and Ludacris, or doesn’t know the words to Justin Bieber songs. You’ll see someone whose brain’s been placed in the wrong period of life- an adult’s brain in a child’s body. And I’ve never lived that down.
I have learned that even if you’re different, people don’t have to treat you differently.
My first day at Forsyth School was the first day of my life. It was the day before Halloween in fourth grade, and I walked into my new school for the first time since I had visited two weeks prior. I looked around at the grinning faces as I gazed about the classroom and heard a few girls yell “Hey! Look! It’s Laurel!” They remembered me; they’re excited to see me. I prove my belief through their ability to not care I was different.
Throughout most of my life, I wasn’t accepted. I felt out of place, friendless, weird, stupid. The funny thing was, I was excluded because I was smart. Don’t get me wrong, there’s more than one reason. Not only was I intelligent, I was overweight; on my way to becoming obese. When I moved into Forsyth School in fourth grade, I stayed there until graduation. There, I had friends; People who actually accepted me for me. There, I first heard “I thought you were weird, but now I know you’re just cool.” Hearing that statement, to this day, is the exact reason for my belief.
I was lucky for my new-found friends because if I didn’t have them I’d be a statistic. According to CNBC, Seventy-one percent of suicides occur in girls, ages 10-14. A chief reason for these deaths? Emotional bullying. I could’ve become one of the many victims of the horrible genocide caused by preteen girls’ emotions. I could’ve been one of those girls who were bullied until they couldn’t take it anymore. Girls who didn’t. I think that if someone had shown them compassion or acceptance, like I was, they may still be here today. If they’d known that people had the ability to see past their differences, like I did, they‘d still be here tomorrow.
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. The blazing bon-fire was flickering between the people crowded around it. I look around at the warm, smiling faces that I’d come to know after camp. Countless times today, I’d heard the same thing, “…You’re just cool.” Like the fire, these people’s opinions of me started out low, cautious, and then grew, to like me, until, like the blue and oranges hues of the fire, we blended into one.
So, my fellow humans, speak equally to, and about, all people, and know with great certainty that they’ll speak the same. This, I believe.