Changing schools is probably the hardest thing you can ask a kid to do. To just leave their entire life behind, move on, and start a new one in a place they don’t know. I know, because by 11th grade I was on my 12th school.
My dad was in the Indian Army, so growing up, we were always on the move, and I was always going from one school to another. I’m an army brat through and through.
Up until 8th grade, I didn’t mind changing schools year after year because it was basically a new experience and a way for me to start over. And as a kid, it wasn’t much of an issue. But as I grew up, I realized it wasn’t just a move – it was everything. Every aspect of my life would be changing and I wasn’t so sure if I was okay with it anymore.
The school where I attended 7th grade was possibly one of the best I’d attended. I’d made amazing friends, learned so much, and I’d gained popularity in that school. I was known for my dancing skills, because I got to represent at various inter and intra school competitions. I was basically put on a pedestal in that school and I had no intentions of getting down.
But I had to. I had to move yet again.
Even though I was upset about being ripped apart from my friends from 7th grade, I managed to conjure up some excitement for my new school. I was looking forward to 8th grade, but unfortunately, my expectations were way too high. I expected to instantly make friends with all the popular kids, be known for who I was, and be one of the ‘cool kids.’
It all sounds so juvenile to me now, but in retrospect, it was natural for my 13-year-old self to be stuck in this fantasy world where she was instantly likable and popular.
When I got to my new school, I tried to act like I was already the most popular chick in school. I would ignore the people who wanted to talk to me and try to stick with the popular kids. I’d try to hang out with them even if I was clearly unwanted, and half the time, I wasn’t even having any fun. But I stuck with the cool kids, regardless, because I was so stuck on becoming popular.
I would try to sit with the popular kids even if it meant I was sitting all alone with the popular kids somewhere around me. I desperately wanted their company, and it was really unhealthy.
Things didn’t turn out in my favor, and within a couple of months of being in 8th grade, I realized I was all alone. My immature and attention seeking behavior resulted in me becoming a loner. I was insecure, self-conscious, and aloof. I really changed the way I looked at people and myself, and the way I made friends too. I completely forget who I actually was. I ignored the people who actually wanted to be friends with me, and chased after the people who were supposedly ‘cool’ in my eyes.
Towards the end of 8th grade, my parents were convinced I wasn’t happy in this school so they suggested shifting me out of there. I happily agreed.
The school I entered in 9th grade was great, but initially, I had my guard up. I was extremely wary of the way I perceived people and the way people perceived me. It took me a while but I finally found my kind of people in the new school and settled in really well.
Now I wasn’t afraid of being myself and in fact, I was aggressively myself – probably because in my previous school I had inhibited my true self so much, that I was eager to really show the realest parts of my personality in my new school. I didn’t go after the popular kids, I stuck to people like me. I enjoyed time with the people who understood me and accepted me for who I was. I met the best of people there and made the best of friends too.
I’m still in touch with most of my friends from that school and they didn’t care if I was popular back then or if I’m successful now. Now I wasn’t afraid of being myself and in fact, I was aggressively myself – probably because in my previous school I had inhibited my true self so much, that I was eager to really show the realest parts of my personality here. I made lifelong friends in that school because I finally wasn’t bothered with ‘popularity’ anymore.
In a way, the experience I had in 8th grade really shaped the person I am today, and in the way, I make friends too. I’ve learned the important lesson that being popular isn’t everything. What matters is that you’ll always find people who love and appreciate you for who you are as long as you are absolutely true to who you are.