by TANK DESIGN | for FRIENDS
Sticking up for friends isn't always easy. It's a sacrifice. But it's worth it. And someone has done it for each of us. Here are first-hand accounts of friends sticking up for friends. It's part of an ongoing document we hope you will add to.
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Table of Contents
We moved from NJ to TN when I was 7, and I started second grade at a school where corporal punishment was still a thing. My parents didn't know that, I don't think. It hadn't occurred to them. But I had kind of a mean bully of a teacher who had a paddle hanging by the door to her room - she made kids sign it after she smacked their bottoms. I can't remember what I said or did, but at some point she threatened me with the paddle and I went home and told my mom. She came into school the next day and had me sit in while she told the principal that no matter what their policies were, no teacher was to lay a hand on her kids. And no teacher ever threatened to hit my brother or me after that.
I remember learning two things that day. One: Authority is a nuanced thing - and just because someone has it doesn't mean they're right. Two: Don't fuck with my mom.
It was in middle school, I was 12, so far in the closet I couldn't even say the word 'gay'. I was coming out the gym locker room when a bully yelled out "STEVEN LIKES MEN". I could immediately feel my face burning, speechless, sweating at the thought someone was more sure than I was. Coach comes out of the office, looks at the classmate and yelled: "Okay and what makes you any better? Shut your mouth and keep fucking walking." Coach followed me out to the gym bleachers. He sat next to me, put his arm over my shoulder and said:
"Fuck 'em - don't listen to what they say about you in there. In a couple years these guys will be begging you to set them up with all the girl friends you have."
Junior year of high school, that same kid asked me to set up with my best friend. Talk about full circle.
You show people what you're willing to fight for when you fight for your friends.
- Hillary Clinton
Adventureman, King SWEN, Myth-ter Shep, Sheperoni pizza man and many more. All of these personas were created for one reason: to make children smile and feel comfortable. Shep, or Mr. Shep as he is called, is a 2nd grade teacher and Camp Director.
The level with which he cares for others extends past anyone I have ever known. He is truly our world's greatest treasure, and a transformative teacher. He uses humor as a learning tool and is always willing to do anything to improve another's day. Shep's efforts often go unnoticed or unheralded, but ask any child who had him as a teacher or camp director, and they will tell you he is the greatest of all time. I am blessed to know him and see the positive impact that he continues to leave on this world as an outstanding educator. Thank you for teaching me, loving others, and making this world better, Mr. Shep.
I get by with a little help from my friends.
- John Lennon
In grade school, I really, REALLY struggled with math...and when fractions hit in second grade it was touch and go! To help, my teacher let me use M&Ms as a counting tool. Naturally there were a few kids who took issue with this and were more than happy to call out the injustice daily. One day a girl in my desk clump, presumably fed-up with their creativity, told them to mind their own business, because "it's not like she gets to eat the M&Ms." - I don't remember this helping much. But today that girl is one of my closest friends and I've always thought she was pretty bad ass for standing-up to grade school bullies and for being a friend even when I needed counting aids.
My freshman year of college I went to an off-campus house party without any girlfriends. Unknowingly at that house party, I was videotaped in a compromising position. The next day, a guy friend who was at the party, came to my room to tell me what happened. I had an important paper due the next day and wasn't there. He told my roommate. My roommate wouldn't let him tell me until I finished the paper.
I came back to my room late that night and they were both there and told me. The videotape was played for a house full of people apparently.
I had a really good network of friends in college, that all stood by me. But I will never forget what my roommate did. She let me finish that paper, stayed up late to be there for me, went to the RA with me, and went to Public Safety with me. She also made sure that I was okay to go to class in the morning, which I did. I'm a stronger person because of what happened, my roommate, and my friends.
My Sister's Pretty Dope
When I was 5, a kid on the playground was trying to intimidate me. I thought I had it under control, but then my older sister Kathy swooped in - cool, calm and collected. 18 years later, she's about 6 inches shorter than me, but she still has my back.
The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when.
- Simon Sinek
I decided to visit a college two hours away from where I was going to school. I was able to find a ride that would be able to drive me on Friday and back on Sunday.
Everything was wonderful until I got a text message Saturday night telling me that my ride home had bailed. I was frantically posting on a Facebook, trying to find a return ride, but to no avail. I was facing missing days of school, assignments, and important events. Then I decided to turn to someone I could really count on. Hours away IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF MY SCHOOL, was my best friend Kelsey. I called her, hoping for calm words or innovative suggestions, but instead heard, "send me your address - I'll be there."
It's incredible to meet someone as loving and selfless as Kelsey, but to call her a best-friend is an even bigger joy. I am thankful every day.
When I was feeling overwhelmed starting a new job, my best friend Meg sent me encouraging texts and notes reminding me to take things one step at a time and that I could do it. She really helped me through it and made me feel more confident and ready to take the world by storm!
Not All Heroes Wear Capes
My son Finn tried to donate the entire contents of his piggy bank to a Save the Rainforest campaign at school - he's a hero.
His teacher negotiated with him that he should only donate five bucks instead of the whole $28.72 that was in his piggy bank - she's also a hero.
"In high school someone pushed me into a locker, and my little sister who is much braver than I told the person to buzz off. Thanks, Sis!"
One time someone was making fun of me because of a low test score. My friend stood up for me and the "bully" apologized to me the next day.
In the 60s my grandparents would give money to Cuban immigrants in their Miami community. They wanted to help friends have a home, sometimes for the first time, in the United States. My grandparents actions taught me a lot about sticking up for friends.
"Hey, Shorty! Come sit over here!" This sentence has stuck in my mind for almost 20 years.
I was in 3rd grade and the new kid in school, painfully shy, and the target of bullies. I often got off of the school bus in tears and ate my Lunchables alone. But then, one day, I heard someone shout that sentence.
This really tall 5th grade girl, Courtney, came over, wrapped her arm around my shoulder, and led me to a lunch table. I recognized her as one of my cousin's friends; she also recognized me. From that day until the last day of school, she'd check in on me, invite me to sit with her at lunch, hang around at recess, and lovingly joking around with me.
I transferred to another school the next year, but would still occasionally see Court. I'm not sure I ever told her what a life-saver she was for me that year, but I was always grateful for what she did. It's remained a defining moment for me, teaching me about the power of a gentle heart. At the end of the day, there's way more courage in kindness.
for sticking up for your friends.
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