When I was in the 7th grade I had a classmate named Brian.
Brian commanded everyones attention whenever he was around.
He made sure he was the center of everything. He always had something to say,
like he was some kind of expert on anything and everything.
He would constantly brag about himself, exaggerating his accomplishments,
exalting himself in front of the other kids, bullying them with his point of view,
causing them to acquiesce by the sheer force of his personality.
He thought he was the toughest, the smartest, the most well informed.
He constantly reminded everyone of that.
His own point of view was really the only one that mattered because he, after all, was always right.
He knew everything. He'd done everything. He knew everyone. He knew the best way to do anything.
His stuff was the best. His way was the best. His plan was the best. He was never wrong.
If something went wrong, or if he made a mistake, he blamed one of the other kids.
He was loud, and obnoxious, and required constant attention.
He needed to dominate people, whether in a group, or one on one.
Occasionally he would pretend to listen to someone else, but he never really listened.
He just waited to talk. His own perspective was all that was important to him.
He loved the sound of his own voice. He demanded respect. And he had a temper.
Brian was not very happy. If fact he was pretty miserable. And lonely.
Everyone around him pretended to like him, but always talked about what a jerk he was.
And, living the charade, Brian pretended to like himself.
In the middle of the year a new girl was admitted to my class. Her name was Carol.
She'd come from another school and didn't know anybody at my school.
She kind of kept to herself and observed everyone.
After about two weeks she walked up to me and a group of my friends while we were hanging around
at lunch time.
She said to us "Don't any of you care about Brian?" We were all kind of stunned at the bluntness of her question.
One of my friends said "No not really, none of us like him. But he thinks we do.
He thinks we have the same opinion of him that he has about himself."
Then Carol said "I didn't ask you if you 'liked' him. I asked you if you 'cared' about him.
Everyone looked a little bewildered and confused. "Why do you ask?" my friend said.
Carol said "because it seems like no one here really does care about Brian.
If you did, someone would have the courage to tell him that he doesn't need to act like that.
That he doesn't need to act like a big shot to mask his inadequacy (not her word),
and that he doesn't need the incessant bragging to make himself look good.
Someone who cared about him would tell him these things.
And that the way for him to look good is to be good, to be honest, to be quiet, to be dignified,
to be humble, to not think of himself more highly than another.
Someone would tell him that respect is earned, not commanded.
And someone would tell him that he would be liked, and maybe even loved,
if he were to take these things to heart, just shut up, and accept that he's really just like everybody else."
Then Carol asked "Do any of you care enough about Brian to tell him the truth?
If not, I guess I'll have to tell him myself."