Auntie SparkNotes: New Kid Nerves
Auntie SparkNotes is off this week, so we are bringing you VINTAGE Auntie posts from the vault!
This year, I'm going to a big public school. Last year, I was home schooled. Before that, I went to a small private school, so I'm not used to being in a school with a lot of kids. This will be my senior year, so I'll be in class with kids that have already gone to school together for a while. Do you have any advice about how to make friends easily? Also, how do I know where to sit at lunch on the first day? Thanks!
Fortunately for you, Sparkler, there is indeed a way to accelerate your assimilation into you school's social sphere—albeit one that requires some extra-snug Confidence Pants and no small amount of nerve. But I know you can do it! So, here we go.
And actually, I'm going to answer your last question first: how do you know where to sit at lunch? Basically, you look for a friendly and familiar face—somebody from your neighborhood, or your homeroom, or one of your earlier classes—and say something like, "Would it be okay if I joined you? I don't know anyone and I'm not sure where to sit." (And of course, you should avoid any lunch table whose occupants openly glare at you, point and giggle when you walk past, or respond to your approach by brandishing large knives and semi-automatic weapons.) People like to be helpful, and giving them the chance to do a solid for the new kid at no personal cost should be more than enough to ensure that you're invited to sit down... and if they don't, then congratulations, because at least you now know the location of your school's designated Douchebag Hangout. Every academic institution has one!
I know, I know: "But wait!," you are probably saying, "what if there are no familiar faces? What if the cafeteria is a sea of nameless maybe-douchebags, rife with dangerous unknowns?"
That's why, before you get to lunch, you need to do the work of acquaintance-making at every available opportunity. But don't worry! Because every school contains at least a handful of friendly, helpful people who want to make new students feel welcome, and if you make yourself visible, then they'll probably come to you. (And, if certain mid-1990s teen movies are to be believed, give you an awesome makeover and popularity pointers and some really bad advice about not dating Breckin Myer, after which you will snappishly call your new friend "a virgin who can't drive." YES YOU WILL.)
So, on your first day, make your new-kid status obvious and make yourself available to be helped out by helpful people. Ask your homeroom neighbor if she knows the location of your next class. Ask your actual neighbors (if there are any your age) about the student parking regulations. Ask your English classmate if the teacher is really serious about getting detention for gum-chewing. Basically, make it clear that you're friendly and open to meeting new people, and chances are good that someone will respond by doing her best to help you get acclimated.
Of course, the fact that this should work doesn't necessarily guarantee that it will work—since, unfortunately, you can't always count on high school students not to be inexplicably mean to each other. But being self-assured, talkative, and pleasant to everyone is your best shot not just at making instant friends, but at making friends in general. And if the unthinkable happens and you end up having to sit solo at lunch, do it with all the confidence and class you can muster. I promise, you won't have to do it for long.
Have you ever navigated a new school situation? Tell us how you managed it! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.