I wouldn’t have said the word “jerk” in 4th grade. I was too nice for that. I was also too nice to realize the far-reaching ramifications of 8 words.
These musings came about as a result of a Socrates Cafe discussion led by the magnanimous David Ebert. Thanks, Debert. As soon as I sat down and heard the word “alienation,” this memory was all I could think about.
It was the summer between my 4th grade and 5th grade year, and I was attending VBS at Prestonwood Baptist Church … aka Prestonworld … aka the Baptidome.
The implication here is that I didn’t have any friends. With 5 or 6 sections of 4th grade VBS classes, I felt lost. Homeschooler me was still discovering social skills, and the best I could do was find a group of people who would tolerate my presence and hang out with them.
This worked well until one day after a big assembly time, when we split up to go off to group activities. My group of people got up to leave, so naturally, I grabbed my stuff and jumped up to go, smiling. The lead girl (there’s always one of those. I even remember what she looks like.) turned around and huffed. “Isn’t there anyone else you can follow around?”
And they left. And that was it. And the last two days of VBS I spent by myself. But that was life in 4th grade, I figured, and I just needed to deal with it.
My self-image is horrible, in most every aspect, and it wasn’t until Saturday night that I realized how much those 8 words have informed my view of myself.
Still, I’m surprised when people want to hang out with me.
I’m skeptical that people actually enjoy my presence.
I don’t believe it’s possible that a guy will actually like me. And if someone does, I hang on emotionally past my better judgment, because obviously this couldn’t happen again.
8 words. That’s all it takes.