Here is the prompt:
Wallace Bacon, a recipient of an honorary doctorate from ***** in 1975, wrote that the liberal arts, or humanities, "are concerned with the question of what makes life worth living. And that question concerns not simply oneself but others. Thehumanities must help us learn who we are; they must help us learn the otherness of others."
And here is my answer:
In our lives, everyone has a toxic friend, a frenemy, whatever you want to call them. In my case, her name was Kristen. I met her when I was twelve. She was the new girl at my elementary school, and I was assigned to show her around. We became friends, and I brought her into my little group. At first, everything was great. Kristen was the kind of person who you want to be friends when you're a kid; she crazy and spontaneous and she came from one of those households where you could do whatever you wanted, so being her friend was a blast. About halfway through the year things started to become tense. It started with conversations that my friend's would immediately stop when I walked up. I knew they were talking about me, but I had no idea why. Then rumors started getting spread about me, something I'd never experienced before. I had a sneaking suspicion that Kristen was behind it- she was too gleeful when I complained, but I didn't want to lose my friends. A few weeks after spring break, I was over at Kristen's house and we were talking about boys. Kristen and I found out that day that we both liked the same guy. I didn't care; we were friends and that was more important than anything else, but apparently she did. The next day at school I was getting some strange looks and when I asked my friend about she said that she wished I had trusted her enough to tell her I was gay. I was in complete disbelief- I had no idea where anyone would have gotten that idea. So I asked my friend and she told me that Kristen had told her. After that Kristen and I were no longer friends. Sadly, I did lose some friends because of Kristen and her rumors, but the ones I kept were more important to me.
The following year I was in middle school, Kristen had moved, and I got a fresh start. Then I saw the same pattern repeating in my new group, except this time I was one of the bystanders having to choose to perpetuate the rumors or ignore them. I kept thinking of Kristen. I would never want to do to anyone else what she did to me. I had gotten first hand experience of how devastating and vicious rumors could be. So even though being gossiped about was a horrible experience it made me realize what kind of person I wanted to be. I didn't want to be someone who spread lies and idle gossip. I wanted to be the friend who people could turn to and trust with anything. I wanted to be the kind of person who didn't take the easy path and go along with what everybody else was saying. Chris Hollyfield, a motivational speaker I've heard speak, once said "You must have the dedication, determination and desire to be a friend, not a bully." That experience, no matter how difficult it was to endure, gave me those qualities and helped shaped me as a friend, not as a gossip.