I can honestly say that freshman year of high school has been the best year of my life so far because I finally go to a school where I am free to be myself and, for the most part, people accept me. I had an extremely rough time in elementary school. I went to the same school from kindergarten all the way through 8th grade. It was a really small school: my graduating class had 45 kids in it! Unfortunately, over the nine years I went to that same school, I only had one friend, Henry, whom I could really rely on, and we are still close and go to the same high school. I was verbally bullied by a few people at my elementary school. The details of what happened are private, but there were some people who thought I was dumb and who told me what to do and criticized everything about me. Because I am Jewish and autistic, I was an outsider, and I essentially walked around with a target on my back the entire time I was at my old school. I had what I call “tunnel vision” throughout my time in elementary school: I found my way through the darkness because I followed the light shining from the other side. I was a caterpillar in a cocoon just waiting to blossom into a beautiful butterfly.

The second I got to the high school, I knew that it was a place where I could spread my wings and fly. It was an opportunity to start fresh and introduce myself to new people and experiences. In fact, I met my best friend, Lexi, on the first day of school! Both of us were trying to find the same class. Lexi thought that I knew where I was going, and I thought she knew where she was going. We clicked instantly, and I knew from that moment that we would be lifelong friends. Then, I found out that she lived right across the street from me and I had no idea she existed this whole time! Needless to say, we became very close in a very short amount of time. Lexi introduced me to her other friends, Jade, Paige, Marie, and Diane, and we all became very good friends. I still have lunch with Henry every week. I also met a girl named Sapphire in my Spanish class, and even though she’s a junior, we became fast friends. My other friend, Carla, goes to my high school as well.

The main thing I learned this year is that everything is infinitely more fun with friends. When you go through life with friends by your side, you have someone to laugh and smile with when you’re happy, and a shoulder to cry on when you’re sad. The best part of having a friend is that you know you’re never alone. Up until this year, I didn’t have many friends at school, but now, with my new friends by my side, I feel like I can conquer anything.

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