But what struck me most was what these 7th graders were writing their essays about. The essay prompt related to A Christmas Carol which they just finished reading, and it asked "what was an event in your past that changed your life?" Upon hearing it I was surprised such a deep question was being asked of these youngsters, but I did not expect the deep answers I read.
One girl wrote that the day she got her teeth knocked out was the day that changed her life. Ever since then she has been self conscious about her smile and refuses to ever smile. She told me about how she doesn't like to smile because she doesn't like the way she looks. That broke my heart honestly. She had an adorable smile to me, an outsider, but it just shows how our own self deprecating thoughts get the best of us.
I walked past another girl and glanced at the top of her paper and in big letters she had written "When I learned it's better to just give up." The fact that an 11 year old girl thinks that it's better to just give up it so sad. What is our world today that this is what kids lives are like? Looking back sometimes I know it feels like there's no light at the end of the tunnel, but there is ALWAYS an end to the pain. Giving up is never the answer.
A boy wrote about the day his parents told him his dad was not his biological dad. He wrote about how he sat in the family counselors office anxious, but as soon as he heard the news he wasn't anxious anymore and he told his dad that it didn't matter because he loved him and that's all that matters. I was speechless that such a young kid was able to take such a complicated concept and simplify it. It's funny that the older we get the messier we make things, but in his mind all that matters is love, not DNA.
Another girl wrote about her cousin that died last year in a motorcycle accident and that now she has learned to be careful because you never know what is going to happen. I felt so terrible for her, but also happy for her that she realized to cherish life at a young age, even though it came from something awful.
I just found it interesting to listen to what these kids had to say and the lessons they have already learned. I remember being in that school and everything seemed like the end of the world, it seemed as though one day it would all become too much to handle, that with each step the weight of the world got heavier, but looking back it doesn't hurt anymore. People are so quick to think kids are dumb and disregard their thoughts, but honestly if you take the time to listen they could probably teach you a thing or two.
As for me, I think there's a lot of things that have happened that have changed me and taught me things. My biggest moment where life as I knew it changed was in 6th grade when all my friends turned their back on me and bullied me, it was the first time I learned what it felt like to be completely and utterly unhappy. I was alone and learned that people will turn their backs and leave you in the cold. But I also learned that it's okay not to be happy all the time, and I learned how to be strong by myself.
What event changed your life?