Friends: Starting from the Bottom Up
There are people in our lives who are very important. They are there when you need them for support, they help you on homework, they make you smile and do so many other things for you that it's hard to keep track of them all. No, they're not members of your family (even though those people are important too); they're your FRIENDS.
Remember the kids you ate lunch with in elementary school? The ones who kept you company while waiting in line for your turn to play handball or basketball? The people who made your day at school go much faster? Those are the ones with whom you want to stay friends forever.
But sometimes, that "forever" thing doesn't happen. People may change and don't seem to be the same ones you hung out with back in elementary school. In junior high, they show up one day totally different than from how you remember them. Or, if not overnight, they gradually turn into a stranger.
Life is full of surprises, good and bad.
Your former buddy may find other kids to hang out with, and it's very possible that they may not be your type of friends. They could be too "nerdy" or "weird," too loud or a bunch of trouble-makers. Whatever the reasons, a gut feeling tells you that it may be best not to befriend them. But you also feel lonely, because a familiar person who was your friend may not be there anymore.
You're not alone. It happens to almost everyone who goes from elementary to middle school, as you enter a new world. The popular guy in fifth grade might not be so popular in sixth grade because he could have turned into a rude fellow. Or the prettiest girl of last year changed from the definition of sweetness to nastiness, whatever that is. Talk about unpleasant surprises.
Back to top
Another Side to the Story
Middle school can also bring some pleasant surprises. You're in an entirely different setting, and exciting new things can happen.
For example, instead of sitting on carpet floors like in elementary school, you might sit at groups of desks with others. You'll meet kids from different places. A new face is next to you, and that may very well be a face you will remember for a very long time.
Try a few questions, such as "what's your name?" or "which school are you from?" with a smile, and already, the ice begins to break. That person may start to think, "hey, this boy/girl seems really nice," and the possibility of a new friendship goes from there.
Or maybe you get better acquainted with someone you knew in elementary school, even if you have never talked to them before. Suddenly, they pop up in junior high, and wow! In the middle all these new crowds, you find a familiar face. That doesn't hurt, right? In fact, later on, you may wonder why you waited so long to get to know this great person. But what matters is that you've managed to reunite with someone you know, and that the two of you have grown closer. It's never too late to make friends.
For me, middle school was a scary world. People were rude and loud. Kids caused a lot more trouble than I ever remembered in elementary school. It was a real eye-opener. Try to imagine being so scared on the first day of sixth grade that you have to go to the bathroom - but you don't even know where it is in this new school!! Yes, it was a nightmare.
But not all of it was bad. The girl who sat next to me while waiting to enter a sixth grade classroom would one day become one of my closest friends. And we didn't even talk much back then. That boy in the class next to mine who seemed weird at first eventually became my best friend in junior high, and later on, one of the best friends of my life. There was also another girl whom I didn't know too well from elementary school. But in seventh grade, we were in English class together. I found her to be one of the friendliest, sweetest girls I had ever met -- and from there began a long crush! (Shhh!).
Of course, for me, none of this happened overnight. It took a long time of loneliness and feeling left out. That's okay, though. You have to start somewhere, right? It may be a while of eating lunches alone, but some day, you are bound to find someone who makes you think, "hey, this person seems like they can be a good friend." Take a chance and get to know them. And if they turn out to be someone who doesn't seem like your type, don't worry. It may seem like you're back at square one, but at least you gave it a try, and you'll know how to do it again.
Practice makes perfect! Once you find your type of friend, stick with them. Who knows? Later on, they may also cherish you as their first (and even best) friend in middle school. With that, you can make someone else's life -- as well as yours -- a whole lot happier.
Back to top
Author: Derek Chan, college student writer
Reviewed by the Web Content Committee of PAMF