Most people learn through experience and more often than not it’s not a pleasant experience. People are put into circumstances that allow their peers to be the teachers. A lesson in manners is important, as is being taught that everyone should be held accountable for what they say. I’ve had such a lesson.

Middle school happens to be an ideal learning environment for being instructed about your social life. I used to have a particular knack for saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. I found that it is fairly easy to get people into awkward positions and even easier to get yourself into more awkward predicaments.

I had a friend whom I tried to get into trouble by telling a girl (who happened to have a crush on him) that he thought she was fat. My words had the opposite effect and instead of the girl getting mad at him she burst into tears and ran away. I didn’t understand and went about my business.

Later that day I found out from a friend of the girl that she had locked herself in the bathroom. When I simply shrugged the girl’s friend smacked me and walked away. Still, with no remorse, I continued on with my school day.

It was a year later that I found out that the girl had been taken out of school and hospitalized and had to go to a center for people with eating disorders.

I felt horrible: I had ruined her life for no reason other than I couldn’t think before I spoke. The worst part is that I haven’t learned a damn thing. I still speak without thinking; I’m still as selfish and stupid as I was in middle school. But I feel I’ve learned that I have a problem and the next step is to fix it.

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