Sit with the New Kid

Someone recently gave me this advice, “Sit with the new kid.”

Maybe this seems common sensical, but when I heard it a couple months ago, my stomach dropped. My entire body was instantly overwhelmed by the feeling of shame. Flashes of moments when I deliberately chose not to sit with the new kid spun around in my mind.

It doesn’t make sense, really. I’ve been the new kid plenty of times: second grade, sixth grade, eighth grade. I know what it feels like to know that everybody is talking about you, staring at you, judging you, and labeling you. In second grade, I didn’t speak English fluently, and in sixth grade, I didn’t speak Korean fluently. Having people not understand your thoughts and unconsciously (or even consciously) think you are stupid was tough.

I remember how traumatic and horrific it was to be the new kid, and yet there are so many times I did not sit with the new kid.

I sat with the new kid once in 3rd grade, once in 5th grade and once in 7th grade. But after 7th grade, I did not reach out to a single new kid. To be completely frank, I did not like my high school. Having grown up in a small town in Iowa, I felt detached from the private school culture. To show my disapproval and rebellion from the norm, I decided that I did not care about anyone except for my best friends. I did not feel inclined to give other people a chance to prove me wrong. I made up my mind about my entire school and stuck by it.

In hindsight, it was a very narrow-minded attitude I had adopted in high school.

I’m not sure when I changed from the nice MidWestern girl to a mean city girl; just like I’m not sure when I changed from the shy new girl to the exclusive and uncaring girl.

In college, I’ve been trying to undo what I learned in high school. I’ve reached out to others, but I’ve also let many down. I’m still so bad at change. I’m so bad at new. I cower at the thought of someone new joining the crew. An attitude that I can later analyze more. I promise I’m working on it.

All I can say is that you should sit with the new kid.

Not only are you making someone’s day, but you’re also opening up yourself to the chance of meeting someone who can change your life forever.

Sit with the new kid.



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