Standing Alone

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When you’re young its hard to be different, especially if the difference is that you lack a basic skill. But at an early age Jacqui Martin learned that it helps if you don’t have to stand alone.

I sat in catechism class, prepared to learn about Jesus. I was 9 years old and I had a secret.

I didn’t know how to read.

I spotted a stack of Bibles and my heart dropped. I felt my skin burn and my face turn red when Mrs. Darcy passed out the thick books. I felt small, weak, and isolated.

We opened the Bibles and I sat quietly, staring at little scribbles in dark ink. What does it say? What does it all mean? How do letters in ink form an entire language? How is each word pronounced? How do I tell the whole class I don’t know how to read?


What time was it? 4:02p.m., 58 minutes left of class. It was as if the clocks moved in slow motion. I sat paralyzed, hoping that time would elapse quickly. But hey, at least I could tell time.

She called on Annabelle. the girl sitting beside me. Oh no, should I get up and leave? Call my mom? Instead, I sat quietly, still trying to scrutinize the meaning of each word.

I heard my name called.

I looked down at the little words in shock. I froze. I tried to speak but couldn’t form words to say; I tried to stand up but was too embarrassed to move. Thirty endless seconds went by and I finally had the guts to uncomfortably say, “I….I don’t know how.”

I looked around the room at the faces gazing up at me and realized I wasn’t alone. Sam stood up and said the same thing. At that moment, I felt safe. For the first time, I didn’t feel like an outsider. I had someone to relate to, to stand with.

I realized that it’s okay to be different and to have small secrets, but there’s never a good reason to hide them, no matter how embarrassing or impossible they are. Even in moments of true despair when you feel there is no way out, I learned that someone will always be there for you. Sure, life brings challenges, but it will be more stressful if you isolate yourself and keep things from people who can help. Most importantly, I learned that nobody should stand alone.

With a Perspective, I’m Jacqui Martin.

Jacqui Marin is an 8th grader at Kent Middle School in Kentfield.