I knew a student who witnessed someone get shot seventeen times, and that wasn’t the worst of what he had been through. His rough past has affected him so much that some people would call him mentally retarded. But to me, he was my good friend.
For this story, I’ll call him Gabe. He sat next to me in ceramics class. My first impression of him developed when the teacher was treating him like he was slow, so he started messing with her and pretended that he had no idea what she was saying. I thought that was hilarious, and also that he was a lot smarter than he looked. From there, we became really good friends. He told me about his hard past, and I realized that most people who have a problem, whether it is that they are mean, or shy, or even impaired, there is a reason they are like that. If I had judged Gabe before befriending him, I would have missed out on a unique personality, one that I will never encounter again in my life.
The other kids in the class constantly laughed at Gabe when he spoke. I felt bad for him, but sometimes I laughed at him too. Eventually, our friendship dissolved, and I think it was because I was afraid that people would judge me for hanging out with him. I would sacrifice a good moment so that people wouldn’t see me talking to him. Now, I deeply regret doing that because even though he had trouble speaking and socializing, he was pretty cool. In fact, he was the realest dude in the whole class. Now I know that a real friend is infinitely better than all the little acquaintances I make with people at school, and I won’t hesitate again to stand up for a friend, regardless of what other people think about the friend or me.
I know not everyone has as many problems as Gabe, but many other situations are similar. With every new person I meet, before I judge them for any reason, I give them a chance to show me who they really are, and because of this I’ve made some amazing friends that will value all my life.
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