This was a really big deal for him.
You know he went to that park other days and looked longingly at that bowl, the cool fit kids inside, the cool things they were doing, the attention they were receiving. He knew getting out of there would be a problem. That’s why he never went. But how else would he learn to fit in? One day he went in. Fumbled around in there, had a good time. Step 1 to skating well was done. Now he just needed to practice. He was on his way.
But now the hard part came: getting out. He would see how the other kids did it and copy them. Simple. Even though he had his doubts before, it would all work out now. He sprints, but his poorly developed quadriceps can’t handle it, and his back muscles are not used to that kind of stabilization. Everything is wrong. He feels his face burn. At first the cool kids let him be. He tries some more, but gives up because he’s a quitter. He has no faith in himself. Failure has become a welcomed guest in the house of his mind. The other kids try to pep talk him. They get a couple more tries from him, but he fails miserably. Now a crowd has gathered. The pressure is so high that his failure mentality is in overdrive. His attempts are half-assed now. He watches helplessly as the other kids that are trying to help him effortlessly slide in and out of the bowl. And he is scared. Oh, is he scared. He may never get out. They might have to call adults. The shame subsides in the shadow of that thought. He concentrates on the goal and is finally hoisted up and out, with the help of three or four others. Applause roars, but he is not smiling. It’s shameful applause. He has become some animal stuck in a tree, someone that needs pity. The applause is for those who helped him. He turned them into heroes. They were already cool because they could get in and out of the bowl with ease, but now he has elevated them further. The rich get richer. So it goes.
-Kurt Vonnegut (with an assist by Reddit)
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