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He Would Have Made a Difference by nicolemtracy He Would Have Made a Difference by nicolemtracy
In elementary school I was the odd one out. For whatever reason, the other kids picked on me and I didn't have any friends. I never understood what was wrong with me, why I was the one no one liked. It was a very painful experience.

I remember tailing the popular girls all the time. I just wanted to hang out with them, but they made every effort to avoid, ditch me and leave me out of anything they did. When I was 10 or 11 one of the girls surprised me on my birthday with a gift. It was wrapped in bright paper and a pretty bow. I unwrapped it, excited that they had finally accepted me. It was mud. You can imagine how I felt and how hard I cried. Thinking about that still tears me up to this day.

Those girls and boys molded me into a painfully shy and awkward person who craved acceptance and approval from everyone around me. I often changed my persona around different people trying to appear as someone they would like, not that it did any good.

In 9th grade I tried to kill myself. My mom caught me. I still have the scars. They'll always serve as a reminder of how much those people hurt me.

In high school I promised myself I would never let anyone I met feel the same way I felt. I would be friends to everyone I met and let them know they mattered. I still changed myself to fit in with different groups of people.

I tell you this to say that if I had had an Arnold during even preschool, I would probably be a totally different person. Even if he would have been my only friend, it would have made an enormous difference. I would likely be less insecure and self-conscious. I'd probably have a better body image and would hate myself so much. Even now, at 25, I still have no confidence. I still struggle with self-hatred and feelings of worthlessness.

You can be someones Arnold. You can make a difference. It doesn't take much either, just letting people know that you care about them, even if no one else does. That's the kind of person I try to be now. I may not be perfect, but I try to let the people I care about know how much they mean to me. I still have a hard time talking to strangers though, so it's difficult to spread that acceptance around as much as I'd like to, but I'm going to try harder. I want to be someones Arnold. So I can prevent people from feeling the pain and despair I felt in 9th grade and all through elementary and middle school.
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:iconyunix-2:
YuniX-2 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014
Its funny, but it seems like a lot of us who were bullied as children react in a similar way. I was also bullied a lot as a kid. I'll never forget the time the girls I was sitting across from at lunch said, "Why do you hang out with us? We don't like you."  after spending the whole year acting friendly with me, or the time my entire class made fun of me until I cried because in editing a boy's paper I thought his h looked like an n. But the world needs people like us, people willing to take our own pain and turn it into someone else's saving grace. I make every effort to do that as a teacher, and in my day to day life. Acceptance of others isn't always easy, but the children who are the hardest to work with are the most rewarding to see grow. It really makes me happy to see other people who have taken the same lessons from a painful childhood as I have. The world needs more people who think this way, who are capable of turning their greatest weakness into their greatest strength, and who can find meaning in their suffering.

A word of advice: One thing I have found is that it is impossible to change who you are (your opinions, beliefs, ideas, loves, and hates) for others without immense cognitive dissonance, but that it IS possible to change the way you express yourself to others, and often times this is what makes all the difference. When you try to change who you are, what you like and dislike, people can sense you aren't being genuine and dislike it. However, if you learn to express yourself in a way that follows social conventions (which is something I at the very least struggled with greatly - I was super bossy and came across as condescending a lot and had no idea) then even people who differ greatly from you will respect you. If you think this might be part of your problem, I highly recommend doing some reading on social skills and the mistakes people often make with them. Then try out different ways to express yourself based on what you've read. Treat it like an experiment, you know? What works and what doesn't. I did that in High School and it's really changed my life. I have SUCH a good social life now, it's a complete 180. Most importantly, I always feel like I'm being true to myself. I'm just doing it tactfully. And remember, not everyone will like you, but people loved Hitler and were totally wrong about it, so it's definitely possible for people to be just plain wrong about how awesome you are too.

And if that advice comes off as condescending I'm really sorry, I still do that sometimes but am a bit more aware of it. I just wanted to give you the benefit of my experience to accept or ignore as you choose. I figure even if it's useless for your situation, food for thought is always nice to have.
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:iconnicolemtracy:
nicolemtracy Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. This is great advice. (I can't imagine why mistaking a "h" for a "n" would make people make fun of someone until they cried. That's just stupid. Irritating..Onion  People can be real jerks.) But I'll definitely give your experiment a try. If all else fails, I'll at least know what works for me and what doesn't. Nommy smile  And for your sake of mind, no, it didn't come off as condescending. wink 
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:iconlilaily:
lilaily Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Dear...
I understand you, I have called the suicide hotline so many times that you can't even understand. I went through something not any human being would love to go through. Even now being a Junior in High school I am constantly being let down in life, but I did have an Arnold his name was Jesus Christ. If I wouldn't have been christian... I probably would have not been writing to you this message.
I am so SO GLAD that your mom caught you. My parents didn't even bother to do anything. I later on found out that all I really wanted was attention. I am a different lady now and have been through tougher struggles but, I am :) ! Thank God I found someone like you.
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:iconnicolemtracy:
nicolemtracy Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:hug I don't know you, but I can honestly say that I love you. I'm sorry you went through all of that, but remember that there are people who care, people who can see how important you really are and want to see you be happy. I'm glad you've overcome those challenges and that you're a stronger person for them. Be proud of who you are, because if you're not, I am.Shy 
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:iconlilaily:
lilaily Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
How sweet are you, well I am happy to say that my parents failed me times but, they always helped me out since then!
I am happy that you care, and if you care to see... I am a youtuber and am starting a web series of various things feel free to check it out!
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:iconpuffball17:
puffball17 Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014   General Artist

this is incredible. I actually saw this a few days ago when I was having a really bad day. okay it was a little worse then just a bad day, but...

well the thing I always said I loved about 90's cartoons was that they had kids as the main characters, unlike cartoons before them like captain planet and tmnt that all had adults or teenagers as the role model figures. it showed kids that they could be their own role models, that they could make a difference right here and now. but it's more then just that. having kids as the stars makes the kids that are watching it feel like they are not alone, even if they are.

when I was younger I always related more to Arnold, so much so that I really didn't appreciate the show as much as I should have because the lessons he stood to teach always felt like common sense to me, but as I got older I realize others didn't really see there moral compasses as easily as I did. I always did my best to be a good friend to people, even people that weren't always good friends to me. even though I knew it probably would mean I'd probably get hurt in the end, it didn't matter. not that I let people walk al over me. I didn't do it just to please them. it wasn't about them. it was about the person I wanted to be. if I can make it to my death bed knowing I never let any friend of mine feel like anything less then a human being at my hand I will have done a good job.

do have so social problems, but what with me moving around so often when I was little and being exposed to so many new faces so often I adapted out of necessity. which was great but I never really learned how to sustain a long-term friendship. so when I got depressed in high school and eventually dropped out that was pretty much the end of the part of my life that involved having friends. and I find that I've been very alone for the past few.... years now actually.

but now that I think about it (which I often do) I've never really not been alone much. though I always did my best to make sure my friends new I was there for them I never really got any of it back. I never really had anyone I could go to with my problems. and still don't. one of the many reasons I relate to Helga so much.

this show is more then just a show to me. the characters feel like real friends to me. not because I can turn the show on to forget about my problems, just the opposite. because when I looked at this picture there was a split second I saw my self in it standing were your standing, and I saw myself the way Arnold would have seen me. as a human being. I finally felt like I got some of it back. thank you so much for that.

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:iconnicolemtracy:
nicolemtracy Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm so sorry things have been so hard for you, but I'm glad you tried your best to let the people in your life know they mattered. That's what makes the difference between simply tolerating someone and genuinely caring about them and that differentiation is what makes you somebody's Arnold. You make someone feel loved and wanted, you make someone feel accepted and you make someone step away from the edge when they feel depressed. It's people like you that give me faith in humanity. So thank you. Thank you for being one of those people that make life worth living. Thank you for making a difference to someone. It really does make a difference and it really does matter.
I know we don't know each other, but you're welcome to share your problems with me whenever you feel the need to. I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I've been know to give some pretty good insight.:hug 
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:iconpuffball17:
puffball17 Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014   General Artist

"it's people like you that give me fate in humanity." that is defiantly the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. thank you. I have a sneaking suspicion you may be one of those people to many others also. (including me of curse)  ^^

and don't hesitate to come to me with your problems as well. I love to listen and I never judge.

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:iconnicolemtracy:
nicolemtracy Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Sounds good. I'll do just that. Nommy smile mini 
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:iconkoizumi-marichan:
Koizumi-Marichan Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
and you are SOOO CUTE IN THE PIC !!! ;O; I want to hug you so hard !!! ;o;
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