The bell rings. Everyday, it sounds at precisely the right moment. Looking on, you’d see a split second of calm. The halls silent, classroom doors shut. The emptiness seemed eerie. Suddenly, waves of students moved all at once, flooding the narrow hallway. I walked parallel to the wall, weaving in and out of crowds to avoid bumping into others. There are certain days that the crowds are worse than usual.
This was one of those days. Crammed together, movement was futile, only serving to antagonize the rest of the students. I stood, surveying the chaos, shifting in between small gaps, arms pressed up against my sides. I had made it about halfway to the staircase when the shoving began; everyone pushed whoever they could in an attempt to clear a path. Raised voices, frustration, and the scent of sweat combined to create a sense of urgency, as the late bell rung. I made incremental steps in the direction of my class, though I felt consumed by claustrophobia, pressed against others on every side. I was apprehensive about being late, though I’m not sure why. It wasn’t like I would be in trouble, or I would miss anything. I silently moved amongst the crowd, taking in the noisy scene that was in disarray. I didn’t push, nor did I add my own shouts into the mix. That’s what I do. I only watch, never becoming involved unless I must. I prefer to observe on the outskirts rather than participate in the middle of things. I avoid conflict like the plague, fearing confrontation of any kind.
My reaction to the hallway jam was not unlike my typical reactions in life. Whereas most responded with anger, verbally letting out their frustration, I remained passive. I like to believe this is because I am a kind and easygoing person. However, I think that in reality, it is because I give up too easily. In an argument, I am far more likely to back down than to continue the fight. If someone was angry with me I would do everything I possibly could to reconcile. In the hall I make myself as small as I can, shrinking, rather than making my own way. My actions could be compared to such attributes only pushovers or people-pleasers possess. Instead of standing up for myself, I just step aside. Reflecting on experiences such as this has made me realize that it’s time to change. I need to toughen up and defend my beliefs instead of placating those around me. Now, shoving my way through a crowd may not be the best place to start, but I can use this experience to learn and grow in the future.