I’m participating in a project called Mommy’s Piggy Tales where I’ll be writing stories about my childhood once a week for 15 weeks, starting with birth and ending with graduation in the hopes that my children, and possibly my children’s children, will one day appreciate it.
Ninth grade, for me, meant not only the start of High School, but the start of High School at a completely different school. Instead of moving on with the kids I’d gone to school with for years, I went to a Jesuit High School in town where I basically knew no one.
My mom had good reasons for the switch, like the fact that they had an excellent academic program. I, on the other hand, thought that the fact that there was a class break every day at 10:00 where you could buy donuts(!) was reason enough to go. Looking back, I wish we had given more weight to the fact that I wouldn’t know anyone and that the new school didn’t have much of a music/band program (which was an important part of my life) before making a decision.
As it turns out, the transition was fairly difficult for me. I have a very hard time making friends, so walking into a situation where almost everyone had known each other since Kindergarten made it very difficult for me to find my place. The school held an orientation session at the end of summer for incoming Freshman. I spent the day not talking to anyone (though I made a valiant effort at the beginning of the day that completely bombed) and told my mom that I was “going to be a complete nerd!” the second I got in the car afterwards.
I was too shy to try out for the Symphonic Band, so I had resigned myself to being in Concert Band. Luckily for me, I had a scheduling conflict and the only band I could fit in was Symphonic. The band director had me and another Freshman stay after class on the first day and told us that we could stay in as long as we took private lessons at the same time. This was no problem for me since I had been taking private lessons for years and staying in Symphonic Band was really exciting!
The other girl actually ended up being my best friend, but I don’t think I talked to her for several more weeks. In a perfect example of how hard it was for me to make a connection, I spent the first few weeks of school eating lunch by myself, then just hanging out in the hallways waiting until the next class started. The other band girl did the same thing. We would hang out at opposite ends of the hall, ignoring each other, but probably hoping that one of us would make some move. I don’t remember how the ice was finally broken, but eventually we hit it off and figured out how to make a few more friends together.
It makes me sad (and not a little embarrassed) to look back at that girl who couldn’t even walk up to another girl who also clearly needed a friend and say Hi. I wish I could give her some pointers. I spent a lot of High School believing that people didn’t like me, but I don’t think that was actually the case. Now I realize that I didn’t give people the chance to get anywhere close to me, so I missed out on a lot of potential relationships.
It wasn’t all sad, though. I did end up with some good friends and if I put everything in the right context, I remember that I actually had a lot of fun in High School. And I’m guessing many, many people have similar conflicting emotions about their High School experiences.