“WE ARE nobody.” In high school, it is common to feel different, insecure, and lost. School can be confusing and overwhelming with the amount of homework given, extracurricular activities, and trying to find a group to fit in.
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, does a terrific job at relating these difficulties to high school students. However, another important subject that the book touches on is just how much we do not know what others are going through.
Asides from realizing this problem, students need to understand the necessity of being more open and altruistic to others. There are times we know we can help someone, but we don’t go out of our way to help them, but it is worth taking the chance to improve someone else’s day. We would certainly appreciate this effort if someone did it for us, too.
A lot of us may feel like Melinda Sordino (the main character). She is a freshman in high school that no one likes, and she feels like she does not belong anywhere in school. She becomes friends with a girl, but the girl ends up telling her she cannot be friends with her because she is “different.”
The year goes along, and something terrible happens to Melina. At first, she did not want to tell anyone what happened, but eventually she disclosed her event. One may wonder why she kept the secret in, but we should try to put ourselves in that situation. Many of us have had events occur in our lives that we were too timid to share. We have a hard time disclosing information because we are scared of judgement and misunderstanding.
In school, Melinda grades herself on different things, including social life, lunch, clothes, and academics. Her “rubric” is based on her social interaction, attitude, and events that happened at school. Thus, in some sense, she gets a sense of how “good” or “terrible” her day has been.
Many people do this, either through a journal or simply within their own thoughts. Unfortunately, because we are most aware with our own difficulties and lives, we are also our greatest critics. A cycle of negative thoughts and self-criticism, especially in such a vulnerable time as the teenage years, can occur. Mistakes and injustices are guaranteed aspects of life. Perhaps then it is important to change our mindset on how we view our life. Rather than dwell on our imperfections, we need to realize that, “Nothing is perfect. Flaws are interesting.” Use adversities as lessons, and start appreciating the person it has helped make.
Speak certainly stresses the importance of respecting ourselves and others. In a school as diverse as Granger, this lesson is something we can certainly carry when it comes to interacting with fellow Lancers.
For many people, school is a home outside of home. For others, it is an escape from the difficulties going on with family and personal relationships. It is for this reason that it is pivotal that we create a place of understanding, respect, and toleration for one another.
Do not be a bully; be kind and willing to branch out. It will help make Granger a welcoming, respectful, and understanding place for all.