One day, on his swim home from school, Finley began to contemplate those hurtful words Cleo used to describe his seemingly wonderful scales. He decided to ask his mother upon his arrival home why there were such cruel fish in the sea that treated the unique fish like outcasts? Surprised, she said to him, “Little Fin, your scales are beautiful and you are just as beautiful inside. Each day you express your love and care for others and you are always putting others before yourself. And sometimes, the other fish in your class may not understand your confidence or your heart.” Then Finley asked, “You’re my mom. Moms are supposed to say that about their children. But how will I ever make Cleo and the other fish understand and accept me?” His mother then replied, “Fin, you must show courage and stand up for yourself. Stand up to those who speak negativity about you and tell them who you really are; who I raised you to be.”
After a few days of allowing his mother’s words of wisdom and encouragement to sink in, Finley felt he had finally built up the courage to tell his classmates how some of them made him feel. He started with Cleo. He swam over to her just before class began and asked if he could speak to her privately, without the crowd she was so used to having surround her. She agreed and asked what he wanted from her. He declared, “Cleo, I want to tell you that I am Finley, Finley Gilman. I am intelligent, my colors are vibrant, and my character radiates throughout any room I enter. I have a blue tail and I am unique and that makes me special. I have a gift of serving others and lifting up those around me, and I want to share that with the sea. There may not be another fish like me in this school, but I will accept any and everyone that will accept me. I hope that you will.” When these words left Finley’s mouth Cleo simply responded, “Finally.”
Finley showed courage that day. He let his classmates know just how sure of himself he was and helped them understand that he was made for greatness just like them, regardless of the color of his scales and tail. His act of courage worked wonders for his life from then on. Some of his close friends even explained to him why Cleo felt that he wasn’t good enough to be a True Red. And the reason: “Finley, you don’t realize how many of the other fish admire you and your selfless heart. Cleo was envious of your utter confidence in yourself: the way you swim with your head high and how you speak with the utmost eloquence. Finley, you are beautiful, you do belong, you are loved, and we accept you.” After hearing these oh-so encouraging words, he knew with absolute certainty that living a courageous, positive, self-assured life was his purpose and he could only be uniquely Finley.