When we first arrived in North Dakota I felt life was about to look up. My asthma was no longer acting up so I was able to come off the steroids and I began dropping weight. My skin cleared up a little and, I thought, with all new people I could really reestablish myself in a positive way. I loved the country, the flat fields of flax and sunflowers that looked like a watercolor painting, the cool, windy weather that you could stay outside all day in, and a church where I was able to establish myself in a “Uth Group.”
School was another story. It was eighth grade and I found myself facing a curriculum much like the year before. The school was academically behind, and the students were far more concerned with popularity and their own well defined cliques than study. First day of lunch I was invited to a table of girls who proceeded to gossip about everyone else in the cafeteria. I could not believe how cruel they were in their judgments. The following day I opted to sit away from them and found a table by myself. It was a lonely while before one girl from the table came to join me. She told me she did not feel like she fit in with the other girls but they were the group she went with from the beginning so she could not establish herself elsewhere. She was a little ditzy, but she was a very sweet girl and, from then on, we shared lunches together and little else.
I am a highly social person, I have always craved the presence of others and I find energy in conversation. It comes with little surprise, then, that this new-found isolation cut me very deep. I was still a very awkward looking person, I was becoming somewhat shy because I feared deepening the negative impression I gave by talking, and I just felt like I didn’t belong. Nichole had become tied up with the wrong crowd and she was becoming mean, having little to say to me and disrespecting our parents constantly. I was isolated and I had reached my breaking point.
One day I refused to get out of bed, I told my mom I was no longer going to be attending school and that was that. She was very upset and called my father at work. He asked me to come to lunch with him and I obliged, ready to make my firm stand to him as well. He spoke to me kindly, never scolding me for my feelings but simply, softly, encouraging me. He told me I was a sweet girl and that everyone faces parts of life that are hard to take. He told me that what makes some stand out from others is how they endure those trials and live joyfully regardless. Life would not always be this way for me, he said, and when the trials were over I would be happy I had stuck through it. It was that day I decided to adopt a new attitude: no matter what I would choose joy. I would fake a smile until it turned real, I was going to get through this.