Dare To Dream On
Take a look at your life. Have you ever said or done something for the sake of being accepted by the people you want to be friends with? Take a moment and think about that for a second. Why do you play this video game or why do you dress like that? That's what this story is all about.
I take you now to a classroom of 10th graders in Suncrest High School. A boy named Tyler Prage is in the front of the class giving his creative writing report. His teacher, Mr. Wess, had given the class an assignment for extra credit. The goal was to write about a place you would go to escape reality, if only for a short time. And they were to explain why they would choose that specific location, so fifteen year old Tyler is finishing up reading his assignment to the class.
"And why would I choose to be an eagle and fly to the highest heights? Because there I can be free from hate, gossip and anything that would do me harm. I guess you could call me a dreamer."
"Thank you Tyler." Mr. Wess said."Have a seat."
Tyler nodded and walked back to his seat. On his way back be was nudged by none other then Danny Thomas, the school bully and Pro Wrestler.
"Hey Tyler where you going next time? Candy Land?" Danny asked in a sarcastic and teasing tone.
"Leave me alone dude! What did I do to you?"
"Meet me after school and I'll show you!" Danny replied.
"This isn't going to be good." Tyler thought to himself as he sat down.
A few minutes later the bell rang and Tyler raced out of the classroom, he had to get to his locker and get his stuff so he could get home without getting beat up for the second time that week.
"Hey Tyler wait up!" That was the voice of one of Tyler's friends and Preschool dropout, Stephanie Hallwick.
Tyler was always what you might call a "dreamer" ever since his older brother Matt died of cancer at twenty-four. Tyler and Matt were very close, they may not be that close in age but they did everything together. When Tyler as eight years old he and Matt would build model Rockets in their backyard and set them off. They even won an award for constructing the best rocket in town. But shortly after that Matt found out he had cancer and most of the fun times stopped. Over the three years that Matt fought cancer Tyler grew weak in spirit. Tyler was a prime target for bullying because he enjoyed something that most kids didn't, writing poetry. Now today some kids might like doing that, but when Tyler was in school that was the stupidest thing a 10th grader could do with his time. After his report at school Tyler was giving the nickname of "Dreamer", which wasn't a bad name. But they kids at school used it to cut him down. Anyway back to the story.
"Hey Steph I'm in a bit of hurry, can we talk as we run!?" Tyler asked.
"Let me guess, Danny?" She replied
"Someone has been paying attention." Tyler retorted, "Now let's go before we both end up in the nurse's office, AGAIN!"
With that said they both turned and raced down the main hallway to the front door of the school. After bursting through the doorway Tyler and Stephanie hopped on their bikes and rode off before Danny and his goons could find them.
"So what was it this time? What you were wearing again?" Stephanie asked.
"A creative writing report I had to write for my writing class." Tyler said.
"Did you write about something dreamy again?" Stephanie pressed on.
There was a few seconds of silence other than the sound of bike peddles.
"You did didn't you!?" Stephanie snapped with a delighted sort of tone. Stephanie was Tyler's biggest fan. Tyler had written 34 Short stories and over 50 poems, and Stephanie read every single one of them.
"Look I couldn't help it Steph! Mr. Wess asked us to write about where we would go if we wanted to leave reality for a time." Tyler Snapped back angrily.
"You can never really leave reality Tyler." Stephanie began. "You can pretend you're someplace else but even if you went to the beach for a vacation and if you were the only person on the shore, reality is still there." There was a brief pause before she continued on. "Tyler you're a great writer, and whenever I feel low I read one of your dream filled stories and I feel a little better. I can forget for a short time that my parents are divorced and focus on something pleasant, like that one story about the girl who wanted to be beautiful.
"That story?" Tyler asked in surprise. "What was so good about that story?"
"Because it taught me to forget about how I looked and accept myself for the girl God has made me." Stephanie answered.
"I guess, but writing is so "Yesterday" at school. You're on the Cheerleading Squad and have a ton of friends; I'm a "Dreamer" and get pushed around because I don't play that video game that just came out. I was actually thinking about getting it so I could join Danny and the Gaming Club.
Stephanie's facial expression turned from happiness to anger. "Whoa whoa whoa hold up! Since when do you want to hang out with Danny and his gang? Secondly, you need to stop letting yourself get picked on all the time. Take a stand for yourself."
"Yeah sure, next time you try setting a six foot tenth grader straight." Tyler shot back.
"Who said anything about fighting Danny? Stick up for yourself;
you can do that without violence." Stephanie said. "If you know
who you are, and who you are in Christ you won't have a
"I know who I am Steph! I'm a worthless freak who likes to write, and who always gets made fun of for it. A baby could figure that one out."
By this time Stephanie was angry, and yet worried about Tyler. Before Tyler could react Stephanie ran her bike into his causing them both to hit the brakes. Once they came to a stop Tyler received the biggest surprise of his teenage years. SLAP!! Stephanie slapped Tyler right across the face, and she can realy slap.
"Stop it Tyler look what this kind of thinking is doing to you!" Stephanie shouted. "You have no idea how much it hurts me to see you this way! When we were in 1st grade you weren't like this, snap out of it!
Tyler just stood there, shocked by Stephanie's action. There was no talking for about two minutes, just Stephanie staring at Tyler. Finally Tyler broke the stunning silence.
"I'm sorry Steph, I just have really had a hard time fitting into the new school system and my new church as well. I come off as creepy and weird to everybody, there has to be some way that I can get accepted by people."
Stephanie really was at a loss for words. In all the years Tyler and her had been friends, this was the one time where she couldn't fix the problem. "Just be yourself Tyler, be yourself." Stephanie finally said.
After about twenty minutes of talking they finally reached Stephanie's house. They said goodbye and Tyler rode the remaining three blocks to his house. His heart was heavy and his emotions mixed between depression and hope. A part of him wanted desperately to believe Stephanie's words, but another part of him wanted to be like Danny and join the Gaming Club. Just before he reached his house Tyler put on the brakes. "Hmm, Danny lives a few blocks away, maybe I can ask him what I need to do to gain acceptance by him and the rest of his gang." Before his mind could change Tyler quickly turned his bike around and headed for Danny Thomas's house. Ten minutes later he pulled into Danny's drive way. Tyler was extremely nervous about all this, he had run from Danny just an hour ago, and now he's about to ask the bully of the school what he needs to do to be liked by him and his gang. He slowly walked up to the door, and taking a deep breath he knocked on the door. At first he thought nobody was home, Danny would usually go with his gang after school to some old railroad tracks and mess around. Just as Tyler was about to leave the door opened, and there was Danny standing in the doorway.
"Well, if it isn't dreamer himself, Ready to receive your weekly dose of bloody lips and black eyes?! Danny asked about ready to take a swing at Tyler right then and there.
"Uh hey Danny, and no I haven't. I've coming with one simple question." Tom said very quietly.
"If you're going to ask me if I want to play soccer on the moon with some aliens you can just go back to the worthless place you came from. Danny hatefully retorted.
"What will it take for me to be accepted by you and your gang? I'll do anything!!"
This came as a shock to Danny who had really wanted to pound Tyler, but he couldn't beat up a kid who wanted to be a part of his Bullying clan.
"Well, since you are a worthless freak I guess I could accept you, only if you buy the new Video game "Killjoy". Then you could join us and our Gaming Club.
"Ok I'll go buy the game now." Tyler said very excited that he might have a shot at being liked.
"No need dude, I have a copy of the game with me." Danny said. He quickly went back into his house and soon returned with the game in his hand. "Here you go!" Danny handed the game to Tyler.
"Thanks Danny! Can I sit with you guys tomorrow in class?" Tom asked sheepishly.
"Sure Dude, and to make you officially a part of our group we will have a test for you to pass after school.
"Ok I'll be there." Then Tyler turned and left. On the way home his heart began to race as he thought of hanging out with the "Cool people" and having a lot of friends. That night Tyler began to play the new video game he had gotten. He absolutely hated it! It was full of blood and gore and Tyler always hated that type of thing. But then he thought to himself, "No! I have to play this game! If I don't I won't be accepted by Danny and the rest, I need this chance to prove I'm worth something." So Tyler played the game for most of the night until finally his mom opened the door to his room.
"Tyler what are you still doing up!? It's 2:34 in the morning!"
His mom asked.
"Sorry mom." Tyler began. "I just got this new game and I needed to get past a certain amount of levels, I'll go to bed now.
"You better!" His mom said very upset. "You have school you know!"
"Yes, goodnight mom." Tyler said. After his mom left the room Tyler turned off the game and got into his bed. "Tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life." Tyler thought, and then he slowly drifted off to sleep.
The next morning came faster then Tyler thought. Before He knew it he was sitting in his writing class with Danny and the other "Cool guys".
"So Prage, you ready for your test of loyalty to the group? Danny whispered.
"Yeah totally, let's do it! Tyler whispered back.
Class seemed to go on longer them most days, time always goes by slower when you're waiting for something. Some of Danny's group had slipped out of class a little early. "Probably getting the test ready" Tyler thought to himself. Pretty soon the bell rang and Tyler, Danny and the rest of his new found friends walked quickly out of the classroom, down the hall to their lockers and then headed for the back of the school.
When they got outside Tyler asked, "So what's the test?"
"You'll see." Danny replied.
They walked to the alley behind the school building. Nothing could prepare Tyler for what he was about face. As they turned into the alley Tyler stopped dead in his tracks. It was Stephanie! She was being held tight by two of Danny's buddies.
"Stephanie!" Tyler exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
Stephanie was already crying from the pain of the force that held her tightly against the alley fence. "They caught me outside when I was waiting for you to show up." Stephanie said, trying not to cry anymore.
"What's all this about?" Tyler asked Danny.
"Well." Danny started. "I figured that since you're going to become a bully like us, you should show us that you can be a bully."
Tyler was already seeing where this was going. "So… What do you want me to do?" inquired.
"Easy, ever since you were little you were told not to hit girls, a noble idea but a stupid one. So I want you to do the very thing you were taught not to do.
Tyler couldn't believe what he had gotten himself into. All he wanted to have friends and to be somebody that people liked and wanted to be with. He wanted to be accepted.
"You mean you want be to hit Stephanie!?" Tyler shouted in shock.
"No, to make things better I want you to punch her in the stomach." Danny said.
Tyler had to make a really tough decision. If he stood up for Stephanie and refused to hit her, he would get beat up along with Stephanie. If he hurt her, he would be in Danny's gang, but he would lose his only true friend. Maybe you're thinking that it's not a hard choice to make, but put yourself in Tyler's place. If you were picked on for most of your life and nobody liked you, would you throw the punch knowing that if you did you would have a gang of friends? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn't. Tyler looked at Stephanie for a long time. Her arms were red from the tight grip of her captors, and her face was tear stained. Her red hair blew in the wind and it covered half of her face. Finally Danny broke the emotional spell.
"Well Prage! Throw the punch, become one of us. Danny taunted.
Tyler's eyes never left Stephanie's face. She was looking up at him with the type of expression you would see on TV when somebody's best friend as murdered. But then Stephanie spoke.
"Tyler look at what you're becoming, what are you doing? Please don't hurt me, I love you."
Those three words "I Love You" hit Tyler like a ten foot wave hitting the sand on a calm beach. All of the sudden Tyler came to his sense. He leaped forward and hit the two boys who held Stephanie. Tackling them both to ground released their firm hold on Stephanie and she was able to break free.
"Steph get out of here!" Tyler shouted.
Stephanie didn't need to be told twice; she got up and bolted for the school. Danny tried to stop her but he couldn't move fast enough. Tyler quickly got back on his feet and ran after Stephanie. Danny and his Gang didn't dare follow. If they were caught they'd get in some serious trouble. A few minutes later when Tyler and Stephanie were out of sight, Tyler stopped Stephanie and took her hand.
"Stephanie, I'm so sorry so what I did. If I hadn't cared so much about being accepted, this never would have happened. Because of me you were hurt. I'm sorry."
Tyler began to cry but Stephanie lifted a hand to keep his head up.
"It's ok Tyler, you didn't hurt me. You did the right thing; I don't blame you for wanting to be liked by people. Everyone wants to have friends and be loved that's natural. But you have to understand that God gave you a gift of writing and he made you special, even if people try to cut you down because of your age, race or height. You have one friend that loves you and would hate to see you try to be somebody you're not. Be yourself. Be who God created you to be. You'll be surprised at how many friends you will have by being yourself and not trying to be someone you're not.
Tyler couldn't help but cry with happiness that finally somebody accepted him for who he was and loved him too. It was the happiest day of his life. They talked for a long while before they had to get back home, and when they reached Stephanie's house Tyler said. "Thanks for accepting me Steph, you're a great friend."
All Stephanie did was smile and then she said. "I love you Tyler, you're my best friend, thank you for coming to my rescue today."
"Alright see you tomorrow!" Tyler beamed. As Tyler turned to leave Stephanie caught it arm.
"Hey Dreamer" She teased. "Try not to fly like an eagle."
Tyler laughed, and then he turned to leave, a huge smile on his face. He had found what he had what he had been looking for all along. Acceptance for who he was, and he was even loved for it.
Well what did you think? Can you identify with Tyler? Maybe you can, maybe you can't and that's ok. Remember you don't need to play this type of video game or wear that type of shirt to be liked or loved by someone. Be yourself, and people will love you for it. You would be surprised by the difference you could make by simply saying "I Love You" now and then. Not just because it's a nice thing to say, but because you mean it when you say it, and you want somebody to know you love them. It might be scary to say that sometimes because you're unsure about the other person's response, whether you're saying to a friend or a family member or even to somebody you might think is a little odd. It can change a person's life. Maybe that person went through a rough time in their life and is desperately wanting a new identity and wanting to be loved. What if you could be the friend they needed to make it through, and you loved them as a friend unconditionally. Think of the impact you could have in that person's life, and on top of that you would have one more friend-a friend that you could trust. Wouldn't that be great! Now is this story true? No its not, but I hope this story showed you the importance of begin yourself, and reaching out to those who seem to be struggling. You won't regret it. I Guarantee it.
Thanks for reading! J