By: Nick Swafford
New state, new town, new home, and even more horrifying, new school. I had just moved from my hometown, San Diego, to Wake Forest, North Carolina. With a brand new housing development as my home, I was one of only four families living there, so my choice of people to socialize with was limited. School rolled around and there I was, a new student in seventh grade at Heritage Middle. With absolutely zero knowledge of how this school worked or how nice the kids were, I looked down at my feet and tried to navigate myself and my backpack full of bricks to my first period class.
It was a long and painful five-minute trip to the classroom because, as my luck had it, I was hopelessly lost. And as time went on, I observed several huddles of people, sometimes they stuck to themselves, sometimes they gave me an odd glance, and sometimes they ignored me completely. Every single one of those people were foreign to me, so I immediately labeled them as something I should avoid. As much as I tried to be calm, cool, and collected, with each passing second, doubt hammered itself into my thoughts. What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t fit in with anyone? What if I’m that one kid everyone avoids? Et cetera, et cetera.
Eventually, I arrived at my classroom. After receiving my lock, I found my locker and tried to figure out how to work it, since I’d never used one before. Once I had that figured out, I started to analyze everyone in the classroom, scouting out possible friends. I then distinguished that I was absolutely terrified of meeting other people, I chalked up first period as, “try another time,” and off to second period I went. The rest of the day went as such, and the best part? I sat in the completely wrong area at lunch because apparently they separate lunchroom seating by groups. By the end of the day, I accomplished meeting one kid that seemed cool and my teachers, so I considered it a win and went home hoping that the rest of the week would be a bit better. Luckily, it was, and I made some friends.
Now that I’m in the ninth grade, I’ve grown as a person, so I am way less unsure of myself and can introduce myself to people with relative ease. However, I do understand the issues heavy introverts suffer, and it’s not much fun. Finding friends and talking to people can be a little bit of a challenge for introverts, as getting out of their comfort zone is a difficulty. Scenarios like mine are fairly common, so it’s important for the extroverts and less severe introverts to help out those who are struggling and just say, “Hey.” Going off my own experiences, most introverts are nice, even if you have to chip away at a wall of defences they sometimes utilize. Next time you notice someone having a hard time making friends, don’t just consider them weird and leave it at that. Try to become their friend so that you can truly grasp what kind of person they are. Who knows, maybe friendships can grow that way. So to all the extroverts, when you can, lend a helping hand to introverts so they don’t have such a hard time.