Be Proud, Be Strong, Be You

Be Proud, Be Strong, Be You

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

Be Proud, Be Strong, Be You

When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

At my school, I was the foreign girl. I was also short, I didn’t dress fashionably, I had a problem saying my R’s and I was Russian. I was usually teased about my hair or my clothes or my height. I did feel bad but I had lots of friends who cared about me. I was called midget, shortie, and the worse name of all — Russian spy. But people thought of me well too, well at least the girls. Over the years, I was also the smart one, the one who could give good advice, the one who could share and the one who would never give up on you.

One day, when school ended, I was walking to the buses with my best friend Macy and her friends. One of them was having serious girl trouble. I was about to give some advice when suddenly a kid stepped in front of me and said, “No one cares what you say, Ruthy.” The other guys laughed.

“Back off!”

“Russians are so violent and dumb,” he said. All the guys laughed and started talking about movies, games, books and all these other things that made Russians look cruel. I turned away. Macy ran up to me.

“Ruthy, don’t listen to them; they are just stupid and jealous,” she said. Wow, who would be jealous of me? I got teased every day. Macy went on to say, “Ruthy, do you know why I became friends with you?”

“What does that have to do with this problem?” I asked while trying to fight back my tears. I actually never knew why she wanted to hang out with me. We had started talking and then we started hanging out and we became friends.

Macy said, “Because you aren’t like anyone else I know. It’s cool that you are Russian. You teach me words in Russian and you are also caring, helpful and the greatest friend I have ever had.”

“Really?”

“Absolutely,” she nodded with a smile.

We walked a little more and talked about schoolwork. But, I still didn’t feel totally okay. I was still sad inside even though I was relieved to hear why she was my friend.

Later that day, I was digging through my backpack when I found a rectangular piece of pink paper. It had my name on it. Then I remembered. My science teacher, Miss Ostapuk, had taught us about self-esteem. She had told us to keep these pieces of paper because we might need them one day.

The paper was a questionnaire that we had filled out. We had to answer questions about what we liked about ourselves. I remembered having a hard time doing the assignment because we had to brag about ourselves and I never really did that. But then I had decided to answer the questions by writing down what other people had said about me.

“What is your best feature?” I had put my eyes because I remembered my older sister commenting on my eyes. “What is your proudest achievement?” I put playing the piano for old people. At the very bottom of the paper there was a comment. It said, “Never let people bring you down because of who you are. You are special.” I realized that maybe I was teased not only because I was different but also because I could do things that other kids couldn’t do, like speak two languages and play the piano for an audience.

The saying on that paper is my guide now. I live by it. I learn by it. I achieve because of it. I think of my qualities and strengths, not weaknesses. My unique traits and thoughts make me who I am. I still feel sad sometimes and I still get teased but it doesn’t affect me the way it did before. So if you are different, like I am, be proud, be strong and most importantly, be yourself.

~Ruth Anna Mavashev

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