As a little boy, I was known as the jolliest person around. Everybody in my family would smile and laugh when I was around and even at school the students and the teachers would laugh at my jokes. As I got older and started to grow a love for people I noticed how people around me got annoyed with my jokes and my playful attitude.
In the third grade, I was standing in line at school to get breakfast and my pants were a little wet from the rain outside and I was asking people to describe me to get a little attention. A guy named Nick that I hardly knew yelled out with a serious face that I was dumb, fat, and ugly and the people around laughed while I looked off embarrassed. So as I was closer to getting my food, I heard somebody say to him, “He said yo momma,” and he walked in front of the line where I was and said, “What you say about my momma?” I told him nothing and he punched me right in the jaw. I held the left side of my face and looked at the cafeteria ladies as if they were going to do something, but they just looked at me with their big eyes. I was still in shock that I got punched for nothing, when one of the principals came and led us to her office. In the office, she asked us what happened and we both had a similar testimony, but the crazy thing was that we had the same punishment which was lunch detention and I cried because I didn’t understand why I got in trouble at all.
I remember when I was in the 6th grade and the school I went to was set up in three different courtyards. We had 6-1, which was all the gifted and talented students, 6-2 was all the average students, and 6-3 was all the students that needed extra attention with learning if you want to say. I was in 6-3 with all of the Mexican kids which was kind of uncomfortable because this was the same year I got introduced to race and gang violence.
As for me still being a jolly boy, I tried to share that with others and a lot of people took my kindness for weakness and tried to bully me, so I had to toughen myself up. I can remember one event where one of my classmates was holding the door while we were coming out the cafeteria on our way to French class and I thought that it would’ve been funny to scare him, so I bumped the door. He didn’t see me because he was behind the door and I didn’t realize that his hand was between the door and the brick wall, so he smashed his fingers between the door and the wall. His fingers were fractured and he had to go to the nurse. Since this guy was a part of a Mexican gang and I was one of three black people in the class and the rest Mexican, I felt like I was going to get a good beating. On our way back to the French class, three of the guy’s home boys had approached me asking,” What I did that for?” and I told them with a nervous expression that it was an accident. The French teacher saw the engagement and basically stoped them from confronting me and told us to go in the classroom. In the classroom, one of the other weaker Mexicans walked up to me expressing his feelings in a negative tone and I apologized to him, but he just kept on messing with me and he stepped on my foot on purpose, so I stood up and told him to move back because I was so irritated from him messing with me. After he saw my angry countenance, he backed off. The guy with the fractured fingers came back towards the end of class and when class had let out he came to the restroom where I was and wanted to fight me. But I kind of understood that he wanted play the tough guy role and show that he wasn’t going to let anybody hurt him and get away with it. I told him that I didn’t want to fight him, but he kept on urging me to fight him and I just walked away while he called me all types of curse words.
Entering the 7th and 8th grade, I had changed my ways a little bit so I wouldn’t look as awkward as usual, but as I started to get to know people, it was just so natural for me to try to make everybody around me laugh. It seemed like I had this mindset of being a class clown which got me in trouble a lot. there were a couple of times where I went to this place called SAC which was a place where they put the bad people in and we will stay there all school period doing nothing but writing down, “I will not talk in class.”
For the first month of high school, I saw a lot of people that I didn’t know and it caused me to be more laid back than ever. I would sit in class and not say a word until somebody spoke to me. Although there was one class where me and this guy I knew since kindergarten; he would always laugh at my jokes, so I guess I had a sense of comfort to tell my jokes in the class and the people that heard the jokes would laugh also. From that point, I just became more and more comfortable with being myself, but I noticed that a lot of times I thought before I did anything which made me more cautious of my actions. There was an event where the whole class was doing an assignment and the class was so quiet and boring, so I felt like since the teacher was looking down at her paper work, I could ball up a piece of paper and throw across the room to another student and let the other students in the back of the class watch me. As I started to crumble the paper, I started to think about the outcome of what I was about to do.” If I do this, the teacher might find out and put me in SAC for the rest of the day,” I was saying to myself. Following that thought, the feeling of being in SAC and being isolated from others was depressing. So I put the paper to the side and just started talking to my friend next to me.
As a young man I’ve learned by experience how to show my jolly side and know that there’s a time and season for everything. Now I’m in college and I consider myself with the same attitude, but with more control over my jesting and laughing around certain people. I understand how some people are and I’m able to adjust my attitude and style to fit them.