JUDGED, LABELED, AND EXPELLED
By Jael Shatlock I'm 17 and a junior in High school. I started this year fully confident that I was changed. I believed I would live my life for the better, and be a good example to others.
Unfortunately, that confidence went down the toilet pretty quickly.
I had no friends last year, and I trusted no one. So when I actually became close with two new girls this year, I got pretty caught up in it. I couldn’t stop thinking about how “cool” they were, and I quickly found myself turning back into my old self. I didn’t realize right away how costly this friendship was going to be.
I used to wear a lot of labels. “Rebellious Partier.” “Druggie.” “Horrible Sister.” Stuff like that. I thought I was past it, but after going back and forth with this new friendship, I somehow found myself in the woods, bag of marijuana in one hand, makeshift pipe in the other. I knew it was a mistake, even if they called it “experiencing life.”
As I walked out of the woods, that feeling of guilt and shame hit me. I had snuck out of my little brother’s basketball game to get high, and I was ashamed of the example I was setting for him. I lay in bed that night, and all those labels came spinning back into my head. I started wondering they were true. Maybe I was better off as a druggie…
I tried to cut the friendship off, but it turns out we had been spied that day in the woods, and someone turned us in. I got suspension that first time, but I could never shake the impression I left on my school administration. After a few more bad decisions, and a few genuine mix-ups, I was expelled.
The worst part is that out of all the dumb things I’ve done, the final thing that got me expelled was a lie. The girls made it up, but my labels made it believable.
And that’s where I am now. Expelled, and caught up again in the same old labels. Plus a new one: victim.
I have 3 choices, going on from here:
- I can live in the past, and refuse to forgive myself for my mistakes
- I can accept the labels and let them dictate my future choices.
- I can forgive myself, forgive the girls, move forward, and start fresh.
I choose #3. Why? Because no matter how much I sometimes believe those labels, I know they aren’t me. They can describe me if I let them, but I can also be something different. So day by day I’m rejecting the labels all over again, and trying to embrace yet another second chance.
On this NO QUIT MONDAY, I choose to move forward instead of letting my labels keep me trapped in place.