Kyra Prendergast

Believe it or not, when I was younger I was a mean girl. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a flat out bully, but especially in a school environment, another side of me came out. From constantly talking bad about my classmates, intentionally excluding girls from my friend group and overall just lying and manipulating for self-gain. My moral compass was astray and I had no sense of what was right or wrong. 

Through elementary school, I continued to take poor actions. Of course consequences stumbled my way but I always managed to turn the blame on anyone but myself. Until fifth grade. On the heels of a prank gone wrong, I found myself starting my summer before sixth grade in the police station being interviewed by a detective for a prank call my best friend and I had made. It was the first time in my life I couldn’t lie out of a situation.

I remember feeling so embarrassed on the drive back home. Ashamed that my parents knew everything I had done and knowing how disappointed they were. Better yet, my best friend and her family bore none of the blame and deemed me as the instigator. 

My parents could have easily excused my behavior and forgotten the incident even occurred. But they didn’t. Despite my reluctance, they forced me to go to the kid’s house I had prank called and apologize to them and their family. As the summer went on, I visited them multiple times to spend quality time with their family. My parents told me it was making amends. Not just through words and apology, but through actions. 

It was just a prank call. But it changed the course of my life. It was the defining moment where I decided I didn’t want to be mean anymore. 

In life, everyone is bound to make mistakes. We hurt people, we lie, we get jealous and self-righteous, we get prideful and stubborn and mean. Missteps are inevitable, but I believe it is what we do to make our wrongs right that defines our character. 

I used to think life would be easier if I turned a blind eye to my character defects. I didn’t care to know how selfish, insecure and judgemental I was. But ever since fifth grade, I have tried to live a life of honest self-accountability, seeking what I could have done better in every situation.

I’m far from perfect. But I know that gossiping is wrong and reflects individual insecurity, and to escape it, it really is just as simple as walking away or speaking up. 

The rambunctious, manipulative and lost elementary schooler is still in me at times. If I could tell her anything, it would be to use her passion for good. Use it to be of service to someone. Ask them a question, show them your undivided attention. Stop talking and start listening, because learning lessons are all around you. You aren’t perfect, so stop expecting yourself to be. Your imperfections create conflict, and how you respond determines who you are.

I wasn’t always nice, but today my kindness is a part of my identity. Finally, I’d like to close with a quote that resonates with me. “With a bit of effort, you can smile at someone today, even if you're frowning inside. Both of you will be better for it… Any difficulty you meet today offers you a chance for even greater happiness; it guarantees your growth.”