I Hate Challenge Days

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is just a writing of the events that took place during our school-wide Challenge Day. If you don't know, Challenge Days are days when students who've signed nup go to the gym and share and do activities that are supposed to bring people closer. I used to beieve it worked... until now.

Submitted: November 26, 2010

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Submitted: November 26, 2010



I hate Challenge Days. I truly, truly hate them.

I used to think that Challenge Days were good, that they were helpful. I used to believe it would help to improve the school and bring people closer.

But I was wrong.

I did not actually attend Challenge Day. However, I did go to the mandatory school-wide Challenge Day assembly. It was basically a small dose of what the event really was. I went, expecting to hear about how people made new friends and how Challenge Day was supposed to help our school. What actually happened, I was rather unprepared for.

A speaker came up and took the microphone. For the next twenty minutes, I listened to him tell one of the most heartbreaking stories I've ever heard. How his father beat him, how his brothers were all dead or in jail, how his best friend hung himself and he was the first to find him, hanging from the rope. By the end I was in tears. Shocked and horrified, I watched as another speaker came up. But she did not tell her story. Instead, she had us all participate in an activity.

In this activity, we were to stand up every time she said something that applied to us. She called out different things, mostly having to do with family or childhood. Things like "Stand up if you have ever lived in a one-parent household" or "Stand if you have a loved one with a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental disorder". As the activity went on, I found myself thinking about each of the situations, and standing for most of them. As I thought about them, I found myself digging up painful memories that I would normally try my best to bury as far as they would go.

This activity was supposed to show us that we all have painful events and memories that we deal with. It was supposed to show us each other by showing our mutual pains. However, as I stood up, I found myself thinking more and more about my own experiences. I looked over all the scars on my heart. How they were made, how they still affect me today.

However, in times that I remained seated, I got to looking at other people. Many of them, people I knew and people I didn't, were standing for things that were much worse than I'd been through. I saw them standing, and still I could only think of myself. Here were others who have been through so much worse than I have, who've experienced so much more pain, and yet I'm the one who's hurting. Because by now, I am practically sobbing in my seat. And yet when I look around... no one else in crying. Everyone else is participating - some look thoughtful, others merely bored. But no one seems to pain. No one else seems to be affected by having to face their dark memories.

And I think "... How weak am I?". To be this devastated by the things in my past, while others who have been scarred much worse can face up to it without shedding a tear. I feel so weak. I feel like a failure. I feel ashamed to be so affected by my painful memories.

The assembly ends and we are let out for lunch. Other people are laughing. They are joking about Challenge Day, they are ridiculing the activities and the people who believe in them. I am still crying while I walk to my place on the hill. I am still trapped in a whirlpool of my past pain and my current self-loathing. I wish I were stronger. I wish I wasn't around so many people who were laughing and making a joke out of the whole thing.

But more than anything, I desperately wish I had someone to talk to. With so many thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head, I wanted nothing more than to have a trusted person who I could share them with. Unfortunately, I do not have someone like that. I do not believe any of my friends could be understanding enough to simply listen to my problems without giving opinion or offering advice. And the last thing I want is to be told to cheer up.

It appears that I am correct when I reach the hill. My friends all look okay. Some of them are joking about it or complaining about how ineffectual it is. None are particularly surprised about my emotional state, and settle to leaving me alone with my pain. I've already expected this response, and was prepared to spend lunch crying alone and listening to depressing music.


Something unexpected occurred.

My secret crush made her way up the hill and sat in front of me.

And she was crying.

I sat next to her, not sure what to say. Secretly I was hoping that she would need someone to talk to. That she would be the one with whom I could finally voice the pain that had been bothering me for so long. Trying to sound normal, I ask "You're crying too?". She nods. I sit closer and lean my head on her shoulder. I needed to say something, I needed to know if she was the one I could talk to. I didn't just want to jump into sharing, so I just remarked "I hate Challenge Days. They're just another horrible look at all the painful things in my past and all the things I hate about myself."

And that was how it started. After my comment, she started talking about some of the things that were hurting her. I responded with my own painful stories, and eventually we ended up sharing everything. We listened politely to each other's stories, holding each other as we cried. No advice or supportive word was said; we both understood that now was not the time for encouragement. Now was merely a release of our pain, healing would come later.

In that time, through all that sharing of pain and sadness, I was... happy. So happy, and so relieved. I'd finally found someone I could share my feelings and experiences. I'd finally found one person who I could tell all my most painful memories, without feedback or advice or encouragement. And I was more than happy to do the same for her. Others around us offered encouragement or kind words, but we paid little attention. Because in that time, all we needed was each other; the one person who could listen and understand while offering nothing more than a shoulder to cry on.

There came a point when we ran out of stories. We had given everything we had to the other, and just sat in silence, our tears finally ending. I was tired and completely emotionally drained, not sure what to do or think after so much sadness and tears.

And then... she did the most wonderful thing.

She started singing.

She started singing. And it wasn't a sad, beautiful song, or a song of hope, or a feel-better song.

She sang Leather Pants, a spoof of Bad Romance done by Littlekuriboh for Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged. My favorite song.

And I laughed.

It was just so ridiculous. We had just finished baring our souls to each other in a 45-minute crying session, and she starts singing Marik Gaga.

I laughed at the silliness of it all. And then, I started singing too. I can never not sing Leather Pants. In fact, a few others joined in as well. No one can resist joining in if they know the words.

When the song was done, I felt so much better. I'd gotten the weight of my depression off my chest, and I was cheered up by my singing favorite song in the world with my friends.

... Maybe Challenge Day isn't so bad.

... So long as you have someone to help you get through it.

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