Tag Archives: being the new kid
If you take a gander at our most recent edition of Navigating the Real World – which you should definitely do, if you haven’t yet – you’ll find a quote on our “Hard Times in High School Page” from the above clip of our interview with Leyla Dirsek. In the clip, Leyla talks about the challenges of being the “new kid” in school, a less-than-fun situation that many of us are familiar with.
Although the New Kids on the Block were cool, popular, and generally acknowledged as awesome by every single person ever, the new kid in school usually isn’t.
Instead of being universally adored like the New Kids on the Block, the new kid in school is often viewed as a bizarre, possibly disease-laden alien entity and is subsequently treated with varying degrees of caution and contempt by the “natives.” My personal experiences with this type of treatment have led me to a simple conclusion: it stinks. When I was 15 years old, my mother and I moved halfway across the country to the Midwestern state of Iowa. I was not happy about the move, and I was particularly not happy with the prospect of beginning at a new school. Unfortunately for me, my mother was not so open-minded and forward-thinking as to allow me to homeschool myself through my sophomore year of high school, so I had no choice but to put my game face on and sojourn through a year of “new kid-hood.” It was not an easy time for me. My Iowan high school peers seemed highly skeptical of me and were not eager to welcome me into the fold. I’ll admit that I didn’t help myself out much on the social front, as I decided early on to take the unorthodox friend-making approach of never talking to anyone, ever. I suppose I thought that by being silent and withdrawn, I’d create an air of mystery around myself that would draw friends to my side like seagulls to french fries left lying on the beach. Surprisingly enough, my brilliant plan didn’t work. Who’d have guessed? For six months, I had no friends. I spoke to no one, and no one spoke to me. I stopped eating lunch and began spending my lunch period in the library because the idea of sitting alone in the cafeteria was just too horrible to consider. My vocal cords began to atrophy from lack of use, I forgot how to smile, and I became convinced that I was doomed to be friendless and alone for the rest of my life. It was really, deeply, truly awful.
And then something weird happened; something really weird, something bizarre beyond human comprehension: I started making friends. I honestly don’t know how it happened, since I certainly cannot claim any credit for the anomalous expansion of my social circle from zero to 1, then 2, then 3. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter how it happened. All that mattered was that finally, after months and months of isolated woe, I had friends.
Looking back on my time as a new kid in IA, I realize that a lot of why I didn’t make friends quickly was my own darn fault. Obviously, not talking to anyone was a majorly bad move. It was more than that, though. For starters, I was fairly confident that no one would want to be my friend and I figured, why bother? No one is going to like me, so I may as well not even try to meet anyone. I also sabotaged myself by going into my new school with certain prejudices about the Midwest and its people. I felt like my fellow students were judgmental and unwelcoming of me as a “new kid,” but I didn’t realize I was being just as judgmental about them. In my mind, all Iowans were tanned, blonde “farmer’s daughter”-type cheerleaders tossing around corncobs instead of pom-poms. That’s what I expected, and so I came into school already sure that I wouldn’t fit in or have anything in common with anyone. This was not productive thinking. You have to be open-minded when you move to a new place; you can’t make assumptions and rule everyone out from the start. While a few Iowans were in fact corn-juggling cheerleaders, the majority of them were not. It took me way too long to realize that my original expectations were miles off the mark.
Today I consider the friends I made in IA to be some of my very best, and I’m grateful that they decided to take a chance on me despite my being a silent weirdo huddled in the corner.
In the end, I’m also grateful to have had the experience of being a new kid. It wasn’t a laugh riot, but it taught me a lot of important “life lessons,” as your weird Uncle who always talks too much at Thanksgiving might call them. It made me me realize and begin to rethink my not-so-awesome tendency to jump to conclusions about people, places, and other nouns. It also taught me that there are interesting, exciting people all over the place; you just have to be open to getting to know them. Plus, I learned a lot about Iowa during my time there. For example, did you know that Iowa gets more tornadoes than any other state? Or that Cap’n Crunch is manufactured in Cedar Rapids, IA?
Well, now you know.
Aurora, editor & Cap’n Crunch enthusiast