The cold fall wind blasted my face as I left the warm atmosphere of my high school. My body kept telling me to return it to its comfortable and relaxed state of heat, but my mind was desperate for a hug from my bed and blanket.
It was Friday, the day when people unwind after the long, boring, stressful five days of school. When I took those first few steps away from school, I saw the smiles and joy people had with talking to one another. I slowly put my head in my jacket and befriended lonesomeness to give me company. I wanted to smile like everyone around me. I wanted to wipe away the straight face I had from the stress of the week, and feel the happiness of freedom I would get from the weekend. But I kept walking with my dream to find company as lonesomeness and the chilly wind poked at my face.
It was only when I could see the train station two blocks away, I felt a vibration in my pocket. I grabbed my phone and held it in the wind. It was my yearlong friend, who had been with me through difficult times and let me be open to him when others pushed me away. A dim grin formed on my face as I answered the phone and held the icy cold screen to my ear to hear his voice: “Yo Danny! When you tryna play some chess bruh?” My grin slowly turned into a smile as I realized I wasn’t alone. I had people who accepted me as their friend. I had people who wanted to smile off the sense of stress the world puts on a high schooler. I boomed out, “YO, YOU BEST BELIEVE IMMA PLAY CHESS AND YOU’RE GONNA GET CLAPPED!” Everyone around me turned their heads and put on a disgusted look — like I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt instead of a coat. I turned a blind eye and kept laughing and talking to my friend. Lonesomeness got embarrassed of my booming laughter and left my side.
Before I had met my friend, I was in middle/elementary school. It went from fourth to eighth grade, and each grade had a class of 16 students. When sixth grade came, there were always conversations of Sky Zone and laser tag among my classmates. I didn’t get what they were talking about until they ended the conversations with “yeah, that was a good birthday party!” I didn’t want to ask the person why I wasn’t invited because I thought that time was all it would take to connect us, that I would be a part of their outside-school lives. Seventh grade was a year of hope that I could be a part of the lives of my classmates by trying to help them with work and by being smart enough for them to rely on me during projects and by having them see me as smart. The plan backfired. I shared a lot of my homework, and my classmates slacked off on projects and made me do most of the work.
It was in the middle of eighth grade when the truth was revealed to me. One of my teachers gave a speech on how my classmates were my brothers because of the four years we had spent together. After that speech, all my classmates were giving each other pats on the back saying, “Yo, you’re my brother!” I laughed at them like it was all a joke, but in my mind I was upset and angry. I had spent four years of my life chasing their approval, only to be a ghost to them.
My eighth-grade graduation followed a few months later. I was expecting a few phone calls from classmates who would be going to the same high school as me, thinking we would be going through the process of high school together; it was only a fantasy, because none of my “brothers” gave me a call.
I wish I had known that for four years I had to prove my worth to people who did not accept the person in front of them. The people who enjoy and appreciate who you are — those are the people who make you better and sure of yourself. I found my group of friends from three different schools, and all I did was accept the people who accepted me. I call them “The Bois.” I want other people to find their group of friends and feel as if they are still true to others and to themselves in those friendships.