By Ryan King, 18, Lakewood HS
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Illustration by Oscar Rodriguez, 18

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

I have always tried to show people love and care, but I haven’t always gotten the same in return. God wants people to be giving, as they say in church, and I don’t like to be selfish, but I’ve learned sometimes I have to think about myself.

In 5th or 6th grade, there was a kid who called me names all the time. One day I packed up eight Nintendo games in my backpack and gave them to him at school, but he still called me names. When my mom found out I gave my games away, she went and got them back.

If people at school asked me for money, I’d give them my lunch money. Then I’d be hungry and get headaches. When I got home my mom would cook me a hamburger or some fried chicken, or take me to Carl’s Jr.

She’d ask me, "Why are you hungry?"

"I didn’t eat."

"Well, I gave you lunch money."

"I gave it away."

"My money is not be be given away, it’s for you," she’d say. After that she started making lunches for me to take to school.

One of the reasons I was giving money was so people would like me. But I was still getting treated like dirt. A lot of people are fake. They’ll be your friend one day so they can get something, and the next day they’re not your friend anymore.

Another thing that hurt was the way my cousins treated me. I’d call them in Phoenix, and they didn’t really want to talk. They’d rather hang with their friends. They’d never call me—I’d always call them and write them, and I wouldn’t get anything back.

I have cried so many times about these things, because it made me feel like a nobody when people treated me like that. I’ve basically been miserable from fourth grade up until my junior year.

I had to think of myself

That’s when I decided not to give my time to people who really don’t appreciate it that much. Like my grandmother told me, "It’s good to help people, but don’t give everything you have when you don’t have nothing."

With my cousins, I slowed down. I hardly call them now. I realized they don’t really think about me. I had to put myself first.

I used to loan my CD player to this guy Leonard when we were lifting weights during physical education. But then one day I was in a bad mood and I just didn’t want him to use it. He called me names and used foul language. He kind of mumbled it, but I could hear him. It hurt. I felt like I was being taken for granted. I started leaving my CD player at home sometimes, or if I had it in my backpack I said I didn’t have it. I realized people are going to talk about you either way. Like they say, you can’t make everybody happy. If you keep on giving them something, some people are going to want more from you every time.

I still help others—sometimes

In my junior year, my friend Nicholas was looking for a job. He wanted to apply at Pacific Theatres, but nobody could take him to the theater to pick up an application. I worked there, so I brought him one. I tried to help him fill it out, but he messed up on it, so I got him a second one. His mom helped him with that one, and I gave it to the manager for him. They didn’t hire him—but I felt good that I tried to help him. Nicholas appreciated it.

When I help my mom or my grandma with chores around the house, they are very happy and thank me. But most kids my age are not really appreciative of what I have done for them. I still have no friends to this day, not even Nicholas, because we’re not really in touch. But my self-esteem is building up each day. I’m not worried if people like me. I just do my thing. I help people as much as I can, and I know God will bless me in the end with something bigger. Sometimes I just go ahead and help people, because that’s the kind of person I am, but I don’t go overboard with it. I try to set a limit on how much I’m willing to help somebody.

Someday I’ll find real friends. I could call them in the morning or at midnight, and they won’t just brush me off. They won’t ask me to buy them stuff. They won’t start drama and accuse me of doing this or that. They’ll stick with me through the good and the bad. They’ll keep in touch for years and years. True friends might ask me for help, and when I ask for help, they’ll be there for me.

Please don’t ignore the person who is looking for a friend. We all need to think of other people, not just ourselves. It might not make the world a better place, but it might make you and the other person a little happier.