Being empowered isn’t something we feel every day. We often never realize how little the feeling comes around, and when it does, it doesn’t last long. There was one time in first grade when I felt empowered. I will never forget it. I think of this time whenever I need more confidence or grit. I was an innocent little first grader doing my work. We had to color a picture of our favorite animal, and since I was always creative and imaginative, I wasn’t using realistic colors like the other kids. They all had brown and black dogs, orange cats, yellow ducks, and black and white cows. However, I did not. I had purple, blue, green, pink, and black markers. My favorite animal was the hippopotamus, even though at the time I had a hard time pronouncing it. I wanted to draw a purple hippo with a pink nose and black eyes.

I drew the face of my hippo, put down my purple marker, and picked up the pink marker to draw the nose. Then I used the black one to draw the eyes. I placed the black marker down on the table and turned to get the purple one. It was gone! I looked under the table, under the chair, and double checked the floor around me. The marker was gone. I was about to give up hope when I looked over at the person next to me.

I was sitting next to the class bully. This guy was mean! He was always taking other kids cookies and stickers. There wasn’t much I could do to stop myself. Next thing I knew, I was tapping him on the shoulder, demanding he give me my marker back. He kept waving it in front of my face, saying, “What? This marker?” I eventually got tired of the pointless banter. I stood up and stomped over to the teacher and said, “Miss N? I need some help. There is someone being mean to me and he won’t listen to what I’m saying. I’m trying to talk to him and work something out. What do I do?”

She smiled, sat down, and looked at me. “Well, I know that you are a very nice young girl and if that mean person won’t listen to you, don’t leave him alone until he does!”

I stood there a little longer and thought it over. It sounded like good advice to me, but little did I know that that sentence would be something I would always remember. I walked back to my seat and turned back to the bully. Again, I tapped him on the shoulder but this time I stared him in the eyes. After a brief moment of awkward silence, I said, “I would like my purple marker back!” He started to wave it in my face again and taunt me. This time, though, whenever he ignored me, I just stared harder and harder at him while repeating, “I would like my purple marker back! I would like my purple marker back!” I repeated my demand at least 15 times before he realized I wasn’t going to back down. With a heavy sigh, he put the marker back down on the table and turned away from me. I said, “Thank you,” and that was the last time he took something of mine before asking.

Without having this experience, I do not think I would have accomplished as many things in my life as I have. This feeling of being empowered was a magical experience, which may sound cheesy, but it’s true. Never backing down has given me strength both mentally and physically. This is something I hope everyone feels at least once in their life. It’s important to feel empowered because it leads to many great things, can give you the feeling of being invincible and almost like a superhero. And superheroes never back down.

—White Mountains Regional High School