There once was a girl named Natalie Frets. She wasn't very popular, but she had a small group of close friends. She was extremely smart and many people made fun of her when she wasn't listening. She was also different from everyone else. She did things no one else would do, like sing at the top of her lungs in the middle of the hallway, or prance around, instead of walking. At her school anyone who acted differently from everyone else, was labeled as strange. Natalie never took notice to anyone until one day someone called her a freak. No one ever made fun of her to her face, they were too cowardly. Until one day when she was walking in the hall laughing so hard at a joke her friend made she heard it.

"Freak," someone whispered. Then the most popular girl in school came up to her and said "What are you laughing about, FREAK?" It hurt her. She had always been blissfully unaware of what other people thought. Now she was suddenly jolted into the cold reality of the world. She went home that night and thought about what the girl had said. She thought and thought. Maybe she was a freak, she wondered if everyone thought this. The next day she was oddly quiet. Everyone noticed the difference and all her teachers and friends questioned her. Yet, throughout the entire day, all she said was "I'm fine," over and over. She wasn't fine, though, her individuality was crushed. She never did anything unusual again; she followed the crowd, lest she be ridiculed all over again. Her friends noticed the change and tried to help, but nothing worked. Her individuality, spirit and personality had disappeared all because of one mockery, one person, and one hateful feeling.

A few weeks later, though, she told someone why she changed. At first, they thought it was ridiculous, and then they looked into her dull blue eyes, which had once been shining and sparkling. They looked into her eyes and only saw sadness, so they tried to console her. In truth that popular girl had no self-esteem, she thrived on making fun of people; didn't care who broke down into tears, as long as she could feel good about herself.

So think about what you say to someone, and if you're like Natalie, do not listen to the people who try to squish the personality right out of you. Be who you want to be, and be proud.