47: The Best Way to Get Even

47: The Best Way to Get Even

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids

The Best Way to Get Even

Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think.

~Dale Carnegie

“Hey Carina,” Candy quipped. “Where do you get your clothes? The reject bin at the Salvation Army?”

“Ewww!” her friend Jackie added. “Your bangs aren’t even curled! Your hair is so shapeless!”

I had gotten used to the needling of bullies. By the eighth grade I was a seasoned veteran.

I was not going to dress or look a certain way just to make them stop bullying me. No one was forcing them to look at my clothes and hair. The curled bangs of the early 1990s made my female classmates look like electrocuted peacocks. It wasn’t my style, and as for the clothes — it was out of my control where my parents could afford to shop.

Even though I refused to conform I was still angered by the way Candy and Jackie had humiliated me in homeroom. How empty were their lives that their only agenda was to make me miserable? I barely knew those girls, nor cared to, yet they seemed to be wholly fascinated with me.

Their harsh words followed me to every class, rode home with me on the bus, and took a seat at the dinner table.

“There will always be mean people, Carina!” my father explained to me later that evening. “You can only control how you react to it.”

It was ironic that the kids were teasing me about my clothes, for my mom had just bought me a brand new beautiful dress that day. I remember marveling over it in spite of my pain. That was when there was a knock at the door.

“It’s a UPS truck, “ Mom said, staring out the window. “What could they be delivering?”

“Christmas is in three weeks,” I reasoned. “Maybe someone sent us a gift.”

My father answered the door. I remember him looking at the large package and saying, “It’s for Carina.”

Surprised, I looked at the return address: Young Authors of America. I had entered a writing contest. All of the junior high children at my school were required to enter. Inside were a bunch of letters, and four copies of a book. “I won!” I screamed after reading one of the letters. “I won!”

My poem was in that book. I was also given a bunch of press releases for my school and the local newspapers.

A big fuss was made about me the next day in school. On the PA system in homeroom, right in front of Jackie and Candy, it was announced that I was the only child in the school’s five-year history of participation that had ever won that national writing competition.

Teachers and students congratulated me. The next day, Candy and Jackie told me how beautiful my new dress was. “Thanks,” I replied. “I’m wearing it for my interview today. They’re putting my picture in the newspaper. Have you ever made the paper?”

The girls blushed, and admitted that they hadn’t. “I’ll tell you what it feels like when I’m finished,” I told them.

This story makes me very proud. I defeated those girls not with violence, or insulting words, but with two weapons that are far more threatening: success and excellence. Candy and Jackie could insult, degrade, and humiliate me; but one thing that they could not do was win that contest. They had entered it the same as I had. Funny, I guess Candy and Jackie only had a way with words when it came to abusing, and belittling people. They could keep that gift. I liked mine a whole lot better!

~Carina Lamendola

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