It’s safe to say that I went through an awkward stage primarily during my middle school days. Foreign endorphins, peer pressure and poor judgment basically describe grades six through eight. This period of self-identity stretched into my high school years as well. My common conformist attitude shined brightly during these stages when I succumbed to the bullies by not speaking out and joining them in jeering an innocent girl, who I later found out suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. The girl, Leah, is to me as Boo Radley is to Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.
Harper Lee writes, “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.” Boo Radley was an innocent man who always minded his own business. Leah was the exact same way; she never bothered anyone else. In fact, she was usually found reading Hugo’s Les Misérables or a nonfiction book about the Titanic. Her unkempt appearance was the main source of ridicule from her peers. Jokes about her frizzy hair and later, in high school, her unshaved legs bounced from wall to wall. Although I never witnessed any physical harm, I strongly believe that words can be the worst form of torture, and since I never spoke up, I consider my younger self an accomplice to the bullies.
Soon enough, the bullies’ obviously short-focused attention soon found its target on me. People said harmful things that have stayed with me to this date. Traumatic experiences aren’t as easily forgotten as pleasant experiences are forgotten. Even through my own suffering, I never realized that this was the exact same thing that was happening to Leah.
Hurtful drama and incessant jeering continued into tenth grade for both me and for Leah. In my Advanced English 10 class, we started to read Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Upon finishing the novel, I realized that my experiences were almost identical to Scout’s