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Student Soapbox: From an Un-wanting Past to a Striving Future
Written By Alicia Jones
Memphis City Schools Student Envoy & 11th grade student at Overton High School
Some might think that the whole Envoy Project is frivolous, but I’ve come to say that this program has helped me out in so many ways. Why? Because this program is not just for school; it can be used in the real world. There are five “secrets” that are used in this program, but the one I love the most that really changed my whole attitude was Strong Side vs. Weak Side (SS/WS).
I learned that everyone has a Strong Side and a Weak Side, and you have to choose which side is going to be the best for your life. The Strong Side is the side of you that stays positive, and wants to better yourself and others. Weak Side makes you doubt yourself and is always battling with the little things set you off.
I was that type of person that could really fool you. In classes I made good grades, and showed good conduct, but in the halls and outside of school I was a bully. I bullied people because I got bullied by people I wanted to fit in with. Not a good decision really. I didn’t want anyone to know about all of the pain, tears, and other things I went through; I wanted them to feel the way I felt and never know that I’d been in their place.
But the more I had a bully wall up, the more I had people resenting me and wanting to hate me. That's when I began thinking, either I’ve got a lot of people hating, or I'm doing something wrong. Strong Side/Weak Side made me think about the way I was treating others. I realized that no matter what my grades looked like, in order to be a great leader, I needed to treat others the way I wanted to be treated. No one deserves to be put down. Thanks to the Envoy program I see that I have changed for the better.
I now have more people wanting me to teach them stuff, hang around me, and talk to me because I'm more positive than I used to be. I think before I speak and acknowledge people because you can never make a second, “first impression.” When I feel the urge of anger and want to take it out on something or someone I dance until I fall. I have joined a majorette team, and dance team at church because I love to dance and I do even better when all my hurt, passion, and pain is put into it.
I'm not saying that I still don't have those days where I just want to take my frustration out on everybody because sometimes I do. Now thinking before I speak has helped me stay on my Strong Side, to hold it in and seal it with a smile. Lastly my father has taught me this common truth. He said we know that we have enemies outside of us, we don't need enemies within us. My dad said to me, “your mind is too powerful to turn on you and become your enemy; when my inner me becomes my enemy, the enemy no longer has to enter me.”
To me this was a warning before I became too destructive. I chose to let negative things in my life interfere with the way I treated people, and also myself. Meaning I acted out of anger and frustration, not knowing I was hurting others. So as a result I began to become someone I knew was not good for me or for my environment. Now I know that no matter what obstacles you have in life, there is a better ending if you stay strong and keep you head up! If I can smile through all my hurt, tears, and pain I believe and hope that anybody can.
For more about the Envoy Project in Memphis City Schools, click here.
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