I have learned that it is better to be yourself than to try to be something (or somebody) you're not.
It was a hard lesson to learn, but I now believe that this is the better way.
For years I used to try to impress others by being someone I'm not. Case in point: the time in eighth grade, when I hung around with a group of girls who, in the end, turned out to be troublemakers and liars. I got into a lot of trouble myself for lying to my parents, and I had to owe a lot of people an apology.
It was not a very fun time for me. It was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn.
One of the worst things we did was make fun of others: namely this girl, Chandra, who walked on crutches (or used a wheelchair) because of a juvenile form of arthritis. We gave this girl grief. We used to try to trip her or throw things at her, so she would fall, and while she wasn't hurt most of the time, Chandra did oftentimes cry. Every time.
Well, we ended up getting reported by a teacher to the principal, and the principal, in kind, had our parents, who came to school. It was very humiliating to all of us, especially me, because up until I started hanging around with the group of mean girls, I had never really been known to be much of a troublemaker. We then had to apologize to all the people we had made fun of.
It was very humbling.
I have since asked Chandra to forgive me for being so mean and rude to her. She happily accepted, and we are slowly starting to form a relationship. She and I are starting to become friends and getting to know one another better. I have learned that Chandra, even with her physical disabilities, is very much a person, too, just like me, and that she has dreams, desires, and feelings.
Chandra also happens to be very nice. I am learning to see past her crutches (or wheelchair) and the fact that she can't do a lot of the same things I can do because of severe pain in the joints, but she still can do some things quite well (like draw, read, sing, as three examples). She is very talented.
As for the Mean Girls (as I have christened the group I was once in), they are still going around school, tormenting others, but I (as well as Chandra) try to steer clear from them as far as possible; we are both better without them. We have enough of our own problems; we don't need to add to them at all!
IF there is one thing I have learned from this experience, I was not cut out to be a Mean Girl. I was cut out to be a nice girl, one who has compassion and empathy towards others. It's the way God designed me and I am glad that I have put the meanness behind me. In the end, I have gained a valuable friend, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Chandra Mahapatra is one of the sweetest blessings that God could have given me and I am better in having her in my life!