I held the assignment in my hand. I was proud, but also apprehensive.
My paper said one hundred percent. My insecurities had trained me to think that I wasn’t worth a good grade anymore. I tucked my assignment into my backpack silently. I almost felt guilty. I knew not everyone had done as well so I didn’t want anyone to know.
[bctt tweet=” It was filled with familiar faces, but none of them were my friends. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
I scurried off to class, and I didn’t think about that assignment the rest of the day. It was a big deal to me, but not something I wanted to make a big deal out of. And that’s how I wished for it to be, not something big, just a little part of my schoolwork tucked in the expanses of my backpack.
After class had been dismissed I wandered off to lunch. I felt a bit unsettled. There was a lump in the back of my throat like I had done something wrong, but I didn’t know why. My mother’s mantra kept repeating in the back of my mind: “When you wish for something, the exact opposite of what you wished for will happen.”
[bctt tweet=”I knew not everyone had done as well so I didn’t want anyone to know.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I sat down in the theater hallway to eat my lunch, next to the student wall of fame. You know your school sucks when you can’t even eat lunch without being outshined by a wall of too-happy-to-be-real teenage overachievers. My train of thought was thrown off track when I was joined by my two best friends, Lillian and Samantha. I had known both of them for most of my life, so you could say they were my best friends. To any outsider we were the inseparable trio you read about in every young adult novel published, and I wanted us to be that way. But the truth was that we were friends due to familiarity, and I had felt isolation since we started high school.
I just didn’t want to admit it. I wanted to be a part of that trio.
I pulled out my lunch and I started eating while reading through my AP Biology textbook. Lillian and Samantha were just background noise until I heard them discuss the assignment. Lillian first complained about her ninety percent, arguing that she deserved better, that she was above such a bad grade. I closed my textbook and let my eyes wander the theater hallway. Samantha usually was quiet, but she spoke up too, adding that she had only received an eighty five percent.
Insisting that she had worked harder than that. I decided not to speak until spoken to, and wished that I would be ignored as usual. Lillian then asked me, “What did you get?” her ego evident in her tone. She expected that I would score less than both of them, as usual. I reluctantly replied a hundred…
[bctt tweet=” I just didn’t want to admit it. I wanted to be a part of that trio.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Her eyes widened in disbelief and jealousy. Samantha just looked into me, as if I had turned into a purple penguin or something.
My stomach turned, but I was their friend so I listened. I listened to Samantha argue that she deserved more because she worked harder. I listened to Lillian argue that this was her best piece of writing. I listened to them blame everyone, but accept no responsibility. After watching Lillian, who was a bit more aggressive with grades, break down, come unglued, and lose all her composure, I spoke.
I told them that they weren’t doing anything to help themselves by putting responsibility on something else. I told them that if they tried hard then it’s okay. I told them to look at this as a new point to start from. A place to improve from. I told them these things because I was their friend. I told them because I struggled with science, and they had always made me feel stupid because I got a B, while they complained about their 94%. I told them because I had been in their shoes a million times in the past, and the only thing I ever wanted was for them to tell me the same things. I told them because I didn’t want them to be treated the way they had treated me for years.
[bctt tweet=”Her eyes widened in disbelief and jealousy.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I thought they would appreciate my words, think about them and realize that there a sliver of truth behind them. Instead they looked at me in the eye and spat, “We can’t all water down our expectations down like you.” I felt as if I had been punched. As if the floor beneath me crumbled. I felt my gut being twisted. I wished that they had just slapped me, and told me that we weren’t friends anymore.
I left. I picked up my lunch box and I moved to the commons area. The chaos calmed me down, and I found a table to eat at. It was filled with familiar faces, but none of them were my friends. My friends had always been Lillian and Samantha. I had never known anything more. I watched as the kids at other tables shared food, laughs and trust. They talked about what they wanted to do over the weekend, not how to get an A on the test. They talked about old stories, not worthless study groups. They talked about their appreciation for each other instead of making fun of each other’s failures. I learned what friends do.
[bctt tweet=”I told them that if they tried hard then it’s okay. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
After lunch I couldn’t think straight. I wanted to tell Lillian and Samantha how I felt. I didn’t hate them, I just hated how they acted. I wanted to go back to elementary school, when the only thing we thought about was whether to color with markers or with crayons. I wanted to be friends again. I wanted to be honest again, and tell them how they had made me feel. I wanted to tell them that I never wanted to take AP Biology. I only took it because I thought they would think I was stupid if I didn’t. I wanted to tell them that I tried as hard as they did, but I just wasn’t gifted in science. I wanted to tell them to be my real friends.
Except this was real life, not a YA novel, and I couldn’t force a friendship where there wasn’t one. Lillian, Samantha, and I acknowledged our shared past, but accepted that our future wasn’t the one we had made plans for. I made new friends and so did they. I moved towards becoming a debate nerd and they competed for valedictorian.
In the end we all did what we made us happy. In a way I guess we all lived out our own young adult novels.