May 2002
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OPINION

"The Lone Wolf: The Outsider In All Of Us"
By Theresa L., Age 16, Holy Heart of Mary High, St. John's, NF

"She can't do the colouring contest. She's too good. She'll win."

"No, you can't play with us. We don't like you."

Little kids can be so cruel. Those comments were thrown at me in the first grade by a vicious group of six-year-old girls when I tried to fit in. Sometimes, they would even go as far as calling me names like "flat-face". And no matter how hard I tried to talk to them, play with them, or join in during some other childish activity, I was the outcast. The outsider.

In Grade Two, I was pushed into a mud puddle, supposedly unintentionally, by a careless boy who was too busy looking backward while fleeing from his pursuer to notice me standing there. (And I don't blame him. Most people still can't see me.) In Grade Five, a snobby classmate turned his nose up with disgust, and remarked, "Eww...you have the same pencil as me! Gross!" In Grade Seven, I was hit in the eye, also a supposedly accidental incident, by a paper wasp the new fad of folding little pieces of paper into rock-solid squares to fire at others with rubber bands. (Trust me, it wasn't a pleasant sting.) But as far as I can remember, I have been ostracized from the rest of the crowd.

I have always wondered why I was such a loner. My mom often expressed her disapproving concern with the lines, "You have to be more social." That was her philosophy. The more social I was, the more friends I'd gain, and my life would be completely flawless because that would just solve all my problems. Yeah right, Mom.

But I wasn't the only one. All around me were children who were always picked last for soccer teams in gym, always had their intellect questioned or insulted, or always labelled with an nonwashable "L" on their foreheads, to signify that they were losers, and that no one should speak to them. Ever.

I put it off. I shrugged at the problem as being a part of nature: some people are born popular, some people are born outsiders. However, near the end of the seventh grade, I discovered the truth.

A girl who was part of the so-called "in" crowd and had been for years was suddenly being ostracized by her own friends. They exhibited the immaturity that only those of their caliber could they resorted to name-calling, uttering nasty things about her appearance to her face. I remember she used to cry after school when no one was watching. Later, apologies would be made, but it would happen again. Sometimes to her; sometimes to someone else. The whole situation seemed like a soap opera.

It occurred to me that everyone is a misfit at one point in their lives. Freddie Prinze Jr., the actor, was apparently an outcast all his life in school, after being dubbed "a typical comic book nerd" by his fellow peers. Look at him now, rolling in mountains of crisp thousand-dollar bills.

But that's how life goes. One day you're the king (or queen) of the world; the next, even the local hobo has no respect for you. We are all alone at times. We all encounter a period of not belonging. I am not unique in my experience.

This process of learning has put life, along with some of its aspects and peculiarities, in perspective for me. And remember those awful children who teased and taunted me? Well, the tables have turned. Some of them, to this current day, still depend on me for homework.

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