Jelly-Chick | Teen Ink


June 5, 2019
By Katmcd25 BRONZE, Washington, Connecticut
Katmcd25 BRONZE, Washington, Connecticut
1 article 5 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We all have wings, but some of us don't know why." -Paloma Faith

Sixth-grade assessment. A twelve-year old’s greatest fear. Months of excruciating searches for information. Frantic scans of call numbers. Sore shoulders bearing the crushing weight of an anticipated final grade. Being a ‘strange’ girl who enjoyed researching during my free time, I was unphased. I had previously chosen my assessment topic: a possible cure, (after extensive thought, I realized that what I thought was a ‘cure’, is simply a way to slow down the disease and give the white blood cells a chance,) for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, more commonly known as HIV/AIDS. The reaction of almost anyone who reads this is the main topic of my story.

I was misunderstood. I still am. Now, more than a year later, I am still considered to be, ‘smart in all the wrong ways’. I have a record of my undeniable intelligence. IQs, advanced classes, awards, etc. But intellectual confidence, especially belonging to a girl who’s self-esteem is constantly fluctuating, is fragile. One action, or comment, can shatter it.

Not unlike every high school drama on Netflix, (or in this case, elementary school), there are the popular boys, or the jocks. I never had a problem with them. Being particularly athletic, I was actually friends with most of them. But there was one boy in particular, whom will remain respectfully unnamed, who did seem to have a problem with me. As I look back on this situation now, I realize that this boy may have also been misunderstood, or had problems of his own. For one, he had just moved to the school less than a year before, joining his soon-to-be stepbrother. He was very inappropriate, saying things that made even his close friends uncomfortable. For the sake of time, as well as the average teenager’s attention span, I’m not going to go into details about my research project, which I understand is a surprising choice for a sixth grader, especially since the ‘cure’ was from a jellyfish, because that information does not need to be provided in order for me to get the desired reaction from my audience.

I was very proud of my assessment. And I should have been, for I received the highest grade possible. My parents were equally proud, although they did not actually understand my topic, but as parents, were still constantly loving and supporting me. My siblings, however, liked to playfully tease me because they as well, did not understand. That is what humans do. When we don’t understand something, we don’t like it, and we criticize it. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it is simply human nature. Being as proud as I was, I like to brag about my topic to my classmates. I planned on explaining the whole topic, but as soon as I said, ‘jellyfish’, and ‘cure’, I had lost them. They laughed. I laughed along, secretly hurt. I started to develop this metaphorical substance inside of me, one that bubbles and fizzes. The more they teased, the more acidic the substance became, held inside me like a bottle would hold water, threatening to leak.

One day, it did leak. Or actually, it burst. It was lunch time. I was laughing and chatting with my friends as we made out way into the cafeteria, grateful that math and science were over. But a comment coming from my left stopped me dead in my tracks. Without even turning my head, I heard someone say, ‘Hey, Jellyfish Chick.’ Laughter erupted from the tables, so loud that a lunch aide had to interfere. I finally turned, desperate to stand up for myself. Although my self-esteem wavered, I was still pretty tough on the outside. I thought of a clever comeback, perhaps too clever. ‘If I’m a jellyfish, then you’re a polyp.’ Silence. No, ‘ooooohhh’, or, ‘roasted’s’. Instead, I got more laughter. Louder than the first round. Dozens of boys shrugging and mimicking. I cracked. I ran to my lunch table, jerked my hood onto my head, pulled my knees to my chest, and cried. My friend came over to comfort me, but that only made it worse. I was utterly mortified. I tasted something like dirty copper. To make matters worse, my nose was bleeding, something that happened I was nervous or upset.

I didn’t eat lunch that day. I was no longer hungry.

I am currently excelling in middle school, receiving high A’s, and have many great friends. I am happy and praised for my intelligence. My jellyfish theory has been used in many of my projects, all of which I received a high grade for. I wrote this to inspire others to believe in themselves no matter what. If you believe you are smart, you are smart. If you believe you are dumb, you are dumb. It’s that simple.


The author's comments:

I love science and always have. When this happened, my love was shaken, but I was still able to regain my intellectual confidence with the help of my friends and teachers. Always believe in yourself, and never give up on your dreams. Remember: Don't follow your dreams, lead them.

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