'Different' is simply different -- not bad

Feb 28 2011 - 11:58am

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Have you ever noticed those people out there who don't quite fit in? They are too short, too long of hair -- they are just different.

Why is this sometimes looked down on? I mean, being different should be good. It's what makes us all special in our own kind of way. It's just plain bad to not like someone without getting to know them, just because they look different than anybody else.

Here's an example. Freshman year, I decided to have a bit of fun. From five minutes before first period until reading period half way through the day, I put a piece of duct tape over my mouth, not taking it off intentionally except for lunch.

At first, it was fun. But when I walked out in the hall, I was treated a lot differently. I got a ton of funny looks, was laughed at, and had attempts at ripping the duct tape off coming from everywhere. I didn't know that you could be called a freak and a weirdo so many times in a day. Early on, I was even held down by some friends who removed the tape.

School is a place of learning. For some teens, it's also a sanctuary from a home they don't like or problems that are going on in their lives. This is what it should be. But that isn't always so. What exactly is going on with our schools? What things are there that teachers don't see, but really happen? As a student, I can see these things happen and there are times when it isn't pretty.

I see kids who are tripped or pushed into walls or lockers and other things like that. Is this what school is meant to be? Something to "toughen us up," as some might say? I've had my share of that happen. It wasn't supposed to hurt or anything, but in case some kids haven't noticed, lockers are metal and have a handle and lock sticking out that you can run into as well.

So how do the kids who really get bullied and harassed feel? I am 100 percent positive I haven't felt anything close to what some kids experience. With my friends, it truly is joking. Not for some teens, though, and it isn't too fun if you really think about it.

Some kids who get beaten up in school then get out in life and become criminals because they hurt other people by showing what it is that they went through. You can't hurt a person and always expect an apology to fix everything up. Some things go deeper than that. The same year of my duct tape experiment a kid was intentionally tripped in the halls by one of the "popular" kids. The story went around much of my grade.

One more thing that really impacted me is that another kid from my grade got "canned" that year by another of the "popular" people who act like idiots. I was at the opposite end of the hall when I heard it, and when I turned the kid was in the garbage can -- stuck -- and the other guy was walking away. Not only that but there were three girls just sitting there on the wall and none of them stood up to help him.

Even though I personally had no love for the kid, I'm not the biggest fan of seeing that kind of thing happen so I walked over and helped him out. The kid in the can said that the other guy did it, and the other guy said the kid just threw himself into the can. I don't know for sure what happened but we have to be careful with some things that we say, because they can be spread around, and the story can change as it switches ears. It is like that whispering game, where you start with one saying and it really changes on the way to the end, often times by people just misunderstanding what happened.

But whatever it is that happens, we need to remember that we are not all the same. And we have no right to treat others like garbage just because they are different than we are.

Bryant Studebaker is a junior at Weber High who likes water polo. E-mail him at studebakerbryant@yahoo.com.

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