By Shanice, age 15, South Africa
A few years back, I used to be close friends with this girl. Let's call her 'Caroline'. Caroline was really funny and I enjoyed spending time with her. But she could also be really mean. She picked on me occasionally and laughed at me whenever she could. She always made snide remarks and comments that were indirect insults.
Surely, then, I should have left her alone, right? Well, I tried, and she never left me alone. So I was stuck with Caroline, hating her whenever she picked on me and being friends with her whenever it seemed like she needed me.
Then one day, Caroline and I had a fight. We never spoke to each other again. Well, I never spoke to her. She still picked on me. It didn't make a difference to me. She had always been like that.
Then, we went into high school. Caroline was not with me that time, thank God. I became friends with better people and was now one of the most popular girls in my class.
All was good ... until three years later when Caroline decided she would attend my high school. Of course, she didn't attend the school with the sole intention of torturing me. Or, maybe she did. Who knows?
But I was terrified of seeing her again. That day I spent the entire morning fixing up my hair and fighting away tears. I spent half an hour doing my hair, and nothing seemed good enough.
Then I remembered my dad complaining, years ago, about how my hair looked fine. The last time I had been upset about the way my hair set was when I was friends with Caroline.
It was a startlingly, sad realisation that she had made a great impact on me. I had always thought that I was okay with the way she treated me. You know, 'sticks and stones,' and all that.
It was then that I decided there was no way I would allow her to rule over my life. I was not that dowdy girl who thought of herself as a loser. I was a cool, confident young woman who could achieve anything she wanted to.
It was with this change of attitude that I tied up my hair - for the last time - grabbed my backpack, and walked out the door to face my demons.
My point? Don't ever let anyone bring you down, and if there is someone who brings you down, then stay away from them. You are what you think you are. Or, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."