Ellie and Rushton
Ellie was always the shyest of Allisen’s friends, scared that her stutter would be mocked if she spoke up. Throughout her entire ninth grade year, Ellie barely made a peep. Even when she did speak out, it was always with an air of self-consciousness.
That changed when she met Rushton. As soon as Ellie started hanging around with Rushton, her confidence improved immensely. As she explained to Allisen in Book #53 (“Shh! Don’t Tell!”), Rushton’s ease with his tics helped her become more comfortable with her stuttering. When someone started making fun of Rushton’s tics, Ellie immediately jumped to his defense—a lot more concerned about her friend than about herself.
There’s a lot of emphasis these days on being proud of who you are and not changing for anyone. In a lot of cases, that’s good advice. If you’re the only one in your group of friends who eats sushi or wears wool sweaters, but you like those things, don’t let someone convince you that sushi is gross or wool sweaters are ugly. True friends will accept you no matter what you like to eat or wear.
But it’s not always a bad thing to change something about yourself as a result of spending time with someone. If you start becoming friendlier, kinder, more creative, more generous, or a better listener as a result of spending time with someone, that’s a positive change. Nobody is perfect. We all have room for improvement. It’s great when the people we hang out with end up helping us make positive changes in ourselves.