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Sunday, 17 September 2000

First Day Of High School: Tips from the Trenches

Written by  Efrat Hakak

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My first day of high school was probably the worst day of my life.

Acting confident actually made me confident.

My parents were forcing me to attend a prep school 45 minutes from my home. Out of a class of 110 incoming freshmen, I knew no one. Not a single person.

I had spent the last eight years in a class with 30 kids; I had not had to make a new friend at school since the first grade.

I don't think I have ever felt as lonely as I did that day, before or since.

So of course I entered school that first day with a massive chip on my shoulder. I was determined to show my parents what a stupid decision they had made.

Instead, I just depressed myself.

I joined after-school clubs, I made acquaintances; but I couldn't make any friends. I was one of those people that everybody says hello to, and even invites to sit with them at lunch, but would never call on the phone, or go out with after school.

On top of social problems, this high school was academically challenging, while my junior-high was a breeze.

After a full year of this, I was utterly miserable.

So I spent the summer making a few resolutions.

Maybe they can help some other people - they certainly helped me and by the end of my four years of high school, I had formed my group of friends, with whom I still keep in touch. I was even voted by the students of my class to speak at graduation. As miserable as I was that first year, the rest of high school was a blast!

Here are my resolutions:

Say hello anytime I see an acquaintance.

  • Because I was always smiling and greeting the people I knew, people automatically assumed I was friendly (though I am not naturally sociable). And high school kids want to be friends with sociable people.

Take the first step.

  • All the girls there already knew each other - they didn't need another friend. But I did, so I had to make the effort. I had to be the first one to invite somebody to go with me to a movie, or over to my house. Once I did, they started to respond in kind.

Make friends slowly.

  • I couldn't get discouraged when it took a while to make friends. Hey, I had already waited an entire year, what's a couple more months? Making new friends is hard.

Use classes to get to know people.

  • I met most of my first friends because I sat next to them in class. Class (before, after, or even during class-time!) is a great opportunity to strike up a conversation, ask for homework help, or even better, to extend help when needed.

Hide my fear.

  • I was terrified coming back to school sophomore year. But acting confident really helped. First of all, acting confident actually made me confident. And second, confidence implies a lack of concern for other people's opinion, which paradoxically, makes others value your opinion more. High school kids are odd in that way.

Above all, remember that it can and will get better. You may have to work a little to make your high school experience a great one, but it's absolutely worth it!

Last modified on Thursday, 14 April 2011 18:26
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