Four Words: One Defining Moment
by Laura Geary Dunson
She was wearing a bright shirt with a logo for Root Beer on it, looking perfectly manicured and peppy. She had a big bright smile and an attentive expression that said nothing but interest and friendliness.
And I hated her more than anything.
Let’s rewind. Flashback to me in eighth grade where I was caught in the grasps of adolescent angst and a nasty ring of bullying, feeling like my friendships were failing and like I had nowhere and no one to go to. I was spiraling down in a mess of anger, depression and self-loathing that reflected in rage towards everyone in existence, myself at the top of the list.
Thankfully my parents saw this and made the decision to transfer me into a new high-school. Although I certainly didn’t disagree, I wasn’t expecting a fresh start. And when I trudged into my first social event with my new classmates, decked out in a series of black choker necklaces, thick black cuffs, heavy eye-makeup and a black boy’s tee-shirt with a wicked red dragon on the front I was doing everything in my power to chase them all away.
Then came Laura. It was only a couple hours into the first day and she came practically skipping over to comment on our shared first name. I didn’t say much, loathing her entirely based on how she reminded of the kids from my last school. And then she said three simple things that unlocked a door and opened up an entirely new chapter of my life. “I like your shirt.”
Prep say what? And the weirdest thing was that she meant it.
What happened then was the budding of a friendship that is still strong ten years later. That single act of kindness by striking up a conversation built-in friendliness and compassion instilled in me the hope for relationships and truthfully a new faith in my fellow humans. It made me feel less isolated and alone, less like I was a freak or something subhuman.
That single act of kindness has utterly transformed my life. Now I focus my life around eliminating dehumanization and trying to pass on that same feeling that Laura created in my life nearly a decade ago. What for her seemed like such a simple and easy thing to do was my defining moment and the best thing I can even think of doing with such a moment is just to pass it on.
Laura is a graduate student studying Mental Health Counseling, with experience in interfaith and spiritual studies along with social issues including homelessness, women’s issues, and mental health advocacy. She is a native Clevelander living in Pittsburgh with weak spots for underdog sports teams, mint chocolate anything and good harmonica.
Find her at http://www.lauratheredheadedstepchild.wordpress.com.