My regrettable “mean girl” moment happened when I was in seventh grade.
I was living in a new town and struggling to fit in. As Halloween approached, I felt hopeful when a shy yet kind girl asked me if I would trick-or-treat with her. I jumped at the invitation, until another more “popular” girl invited me to walk around with her group. I made the selfish and unkind decision to tell the first girl that my parents said I needed to stay at home and pass out candy. I remember that painful feeling of shame that began to form in my heart as I delivered this dishonest excuse. But that little voice of conscience quickly disappeared.
While we were trick-or-treating, the “cool” girls were less than kind to me, but I convinced myself I had made the right decision. Then, I experienced a moment of pure embarrassment and shame when I found myself face to face with the sweet girl I had lied to. I’ll always remember the look of hurt and hate on her face when she saw me with another group of girls.
I never took direct responsibility for my dishonest behavior. In the years that followed, we didn’t interact at school. We just ignored each other and every time I saw her, I heard a little voice that reminded me what an awful person I was. I also was never welcomed into the group of girls that I so desperately wanted to accept me. In fact, I became their target for aggressive behavior for the next few years.
Later, in my late 30s, I formed an interest in character education when I found myself at a personal and professional crossroads. With the guidance of a mentor, I began to consider the trajectory (轨迹) of my own character development and how relationships with family, friends, and educators, as well as experiences, such as my Halloween debacle (崩溃), had affected my values, beliefs, and decisions. This exploration uncovered a new sense of purpose that eventually led me to the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University (ASU).