“Popular,” Liahona, Feb. 1999, 24
In my eyes, Sunshine was about the most popular girl in sixth grade. She wore nice clothes and walked around with other popular girls, giggling and chattering. I always feared they were talking about me.
Imagine my horror when one day my mother told me that she would pick my brothers and me up after school and Sunshine would be riding home with us! My mom had agreed to tutor her in drawing as part of a program for gifted students.
I was terrified of Sunshine because she was so popular. The dreaded time came for the first drawing lesson, and my cheeks burned with embarrassment as Sunshine climbed into our very unglamorous old brown van. I imagined she was used to sleek sports cars. My mind raced the whole way home as I tried to think of what to say to someone so popular. But besides a forced “hello,” I could find no words for Sunshine. I was afraid she might think anything I said was stupid. When we arrived at my house, I quickly escaped into my room.
Years later, as seniors in high school, Sunshine and I ended up being co-editors of the school paper. This meant we had to spend some evenings together each month working on the layout of the paper. By this time, I had a little more confidence, and I actually enjoyed the time I spent with Sunshine. I found we had quite a bit in common. One day as we were talking, the subject of the sixth grade came up. I mentioned how glad I was to be done with that awkward stage of my life. “Me, too,” Sunshine said soberly. “I had no friends at all then.”
I was shocked. I remembered all the rides home when I thought she didn’t talk to me because she was stuck-up. Had she felt awkward and afraid to talk to me, too? Had she felt alone that year, as I had, even though she always seemed to be surrounded by people?
I wonder if Sunshine and I might have become friends back then if I had not been too worried about myself to think about how she was feeling. Since that conversation, I have tried to remember to follow the Savior’s example and reach out to everyone, not just to those who obviously need help. I have realized that no one is too popular for kindness.