influence :: essays papers

influence Small-minded administrators and authority figures like to speak in clichés. All my life I heard the same trite line: “ You can tell a lot about a person by the friends they keep.” The black sheep of the honors program, I hung out with the so-called “ losers.” During my freshman year, not a day went by when a teacher or family member did not deride my closest friends and warn me that by hanging out with “ bad seeds” I would fall into a downward spiral, never graduate college, and have a miserable life. They thought that they had me figured out. One day, while my ninth grade math teacher, Mr. Pedersen, was reviewing some math concepts with me, my friend Mariam ran by the classroom, stuck her head in the doorway, called out: “ Hi Yassee, ” and then ran away. Mr. Pedersen looked at me coldly and said with a scowl: “ How can you call yourself an Honors student? A real honors student doesn’t associate with people like that!” I wanted to ask him how he could call himself a teacher; after all, a real teacher is supposed to want to help everyone. Instead, I sat silent, stunned by his ignorance and cruelty. He wanted me to drop my childhood friends simply because they didn’t place the same importance on schoolwork that I do. If he had thought before speaking, he would have realized that people like him, rather than people like my friends, are better able to turn good students into poor ones by discouraging them with ridiculous comments. I would never slight Mariam. One of my closest friends in freshman year, she was also a below average, non-college bound student. Many of the adults in my life, especially my parents and teachers, would look at those closest to me: Mariam, Alisa, Zena, Lianne, and Marvin, and ask how I could call these “ low-life losers” my friends. But such questions show a lack of understanding of the nature of friendship. Friendship is unconditional and uncritical, based only on mutual respect and the ability to enjoy each other’ s company. These authority figures never saw the way one of us could do something outrageous, and the rest of us would joke about it for days. We could have fun doing absolutely nothing at all - because the company we provided each other with was enough.