Dear Terrence,

I hope you won’t take this the wrong way. I like you a lot, and I enjoy having you in my class, but sometimes, buddy, you just try too hard. Way too hard. I see you trying to carry on with some of the other kids as if you’re like this with them (visualize me crossing my middle finger over my forefinger), and it pains me. You’re a sweet kid: all this “gangsta” air you’re trying to affect just doesn’t suit you. And the other kids see it, too. And that’s probably why you don’t fit in, because you’re trying to squeeze yourself into a shape that just isn’t you. You can’t fit into the self you’re trying to create, so how can you then take that shape at fit it into anything?

Please know that you don’t have to be “tough” to be loved. You don’t have to have “swag” and bravado to be popular. You don’t have to strut (and let me tell you, as a friend, your strut looks a little more like a limp) to get attention. You’re a kind, sweet kid. Let that be your calling card and I guarantee you’ll have more friends than you know what to do with.

Your Friend in Room 302


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