All I Would Ever Need

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I had always felt like a misfit in school. My friends, although good and true friends, were not in the crowd of popular kids in school. Besides, I was sure I was funny looking. I just didn't fit the mold.

Parading constantly before my eyes was "the fun group" - the popular kids - always laughing and whispering, never sad or depressed, skipping their way through school, the best of friends. Teachers loved them, boys loved them, the whole school loved them. I worshipped them and wanted to be just like them. I dreamed of the day that they would accept me.

My dream came true when I turned fourteen and I tried out for the cheerleading squad. To my surprise, I was chosen. Almost instantly, I was thrust into the "in crowd."

I felt like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. I changed my hair and the way I dressed. Everyone thought the change in me was fantastic - new clothes, a new group of friends and a new outlook on life.

Almost overnight, the whole school knew who I was, or at least they knew my name. There were parties and sleepovers, and of course, cheering at the games. I was finally one of the popular kids. Everyone I had hoped to know, I knew. Everything I had wanted to be, I was.

Something strange was happening to me, however. The more I was included with the "in crowd," the more confused I became. In reality, these people were far from perfect.

They talked behind each other's backs while they pretended to be best friends. They rarely had a truly good time but smiled and faked it. They cared about what I was wearing and who I was seen with. But they didn't care about who I was, what I believed in, what my dreams were or what made me who I was. It was a shock to see them as they really were, instead of as I had "thought" they were.

I began to feel a huge sense of loss and disappointment. But worst of all, I realized that I was becoming just like them, and I didn't like what was happening at all. I had to get my life back in order. I concentrated first on finding out who my real friends were - the ones who listened and who really cared about me.

They were the only ones who really mattered. I stayed with cheerleading because I really enjoyed it. But I stopped hanging around with only the popular kids, and I widened my circle of friends. I found out that my real friends had never left me. They were simply waiting for me to come to my senses. I finally realized that my original friends were all I would ever need.

by Kerri Warren
from Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul
Copyright 1998 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen and Irene Dunlap