Navigating life with a teenager….who happens to have bipolar disorder

Today’s DP Challenge

Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today? (Didn’t have one? write about a non-imaginary friend you haven’t seen since childhood.)

elephant sweater

I don’t think I had an imaginary friend……or maybe I did and I didn’t realize that they were imaginary.  I thought I would write, instead, about a childhood friend that was in my life briefly, but made a huge impact on how I view people.

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It was about a month or so into the sixth grade. A brisk fall day in the Connecticut town where I lived.  As I sat in class, I heard mutterings about ‘the new girl’.  From the whispers I found out that she was in the other sixth grade classroom. Before I met her, I was informed that she was tall, with beautiful blond curls. They said she was quiet and she dressed kind of different, but that must be because she was cool…..she had to be cool, she was from another state.  Anybody was cool that wasn’t from around here.

It was time for lunch, as I left the classroom and started to walk down the hall, the blond curls caught my eye.  She was tall and pretty.  She walked in an almost haughty way down the hall, never once looking around her, like she owned it. I was a bit surprised, however, about her attire…..everyone said she must be cool…..but she was wearing a bright red sweater with a big white elephant on it. This was what everyone thought was cool???? If I wore something like that, I would be laughed out of school.

I brought my lunch, so I was the first to sit down at the table where my small group of friends usually gathered.  The new girl spotted the empty seats and asked quietly if she could join me, she brought her lunch, too.  I was confused.  Wasn’t this girl too cool to be asking to sit with me? We spent about ten minutes chatting before everyone else  made it through the lunch line.  I found out that she was pretty shy. She was self-conscious about her height was afraid that people were going to make fun of her.  She was nervous about being in an unknown place, but said that she made sure to look straight ahead when walking down the halls so the new surroundings wouldn’t bother her as much. And the sweater…..she had just moved from a warmer climate and her mother made her wear it because it was chilly out and it was the first warm thing that was unpacked.

She and I became friends for the year or so that she lived in my town.  It may seem insignificant, but that experience taught me to never feel less than anyone else. That morning, because of other people’s words, I found myself believing that I would be unworthy of this girl’s friendship…..not because she was too cool to be my friend, but because I imagined she was.  I think this was the start down my road of self-confidence. This was that moment in my life when I learned to trust in who I am and be ok with that. It also taught me to form my own opinions and not base my thoughts or feelings on other people’s judgements.

The truth was, she never even noticed all of the whispers about her.  She was too nervous about being in a new school to pay attention.  Months later, when I actually told her about her first day at school, she laughed and said “That’s funny,  I was cool for a day and all this time I just thought I was a nerd in a stupid sweater.”

 

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