By Jenn Maer
When I was a little kid, I was obsessively well-behaved. I ate my vegetables. Got straight As. Wrote thank you notes for every single gift I received.
Then one day, I snapped.
It happened during recess in fifth grade. It was my turn to take the red rubber ball to the playground, which meant I was in charge of keeping it safe and choosing the game we’d play. I took this responsibility seriously—like I did everything back then—and silently vowed to be a just and fair keeper of the ball. We would play Four Square, I decreed: No backstops, no spinsies.
Then out of nowhere, Adrian B, a sixth grade bully with the hard, mean eyes of a career criminal, stole my red rubber ball. The ball I’d earned with good behavior. The ball I’d sworn to protect.
This would not stand.
A white-hot rage bloomed inside me like a tiny, pony-tailed Hulk. I raised my fist and threw the first (and only) punch of my life. Adrian turned his back to me in reflex and the blow hit his spine with a sickening crack. I broke my wrist with that single punch.
I did not.
And every damn kid in the school signed my cast.
Ask yourself or your table this: Have you ever rebelled against your nature to achieve a greater good?
Jenn Maer’s career as a storyteller began at age seven when she penned (well, actually, penciled) her first novel—a 75-page, double-spaced, spiral notebook tour de force entitled “Shark!” She is a design director at IDEO.