On being the new kid

In sixth grade, on my first day as the new girl at Mullan Road Elementary School, I received a death threat. Midday, after lunch but before recess, I was happily informed by one of my new classmates that Kylee wanted to beat me up. I looked up from the my damaged desk (the reject one with erased outlines of bad words and other unmentionables that they always give to the new kid) and squinted into the sea of prepubescents and thought, “who the hell is Kylee?”

I spent the next month walking on egg shells, worried that she would find me. I feared that she waited for me behind bathroom doors, plotted my demise before each dodgeball tournament, hid amongst the plastic shears at the crafts table. The worst part was, I couldn’t even recognize her-I wouldn’t see it coming.

the lunch room is a dangerous place.
the lunch room is a dangerous place.

That’s pretty much what it’s like to be the new kid. Your insecurities tell you that if you do something wrong, someone’s gonna beat you up. Yet, everything is so alien to you that you don’t have a clue which way is right.

And that never changes.

Whether you’re changing schools, jobs, teams or underwear, there will always be a period of discomfort accompanying the transition. After some five major life moves on my part, I was sure that this time would be different, that it would be easy, just because it was a decision I had made on my own-to really pursue something, all in.

Surprise. It wasn’t easy. Those creeping insecurities returned and I was back on the playground, trying to pick the right direction to expect a punch.

Kylee didn't beat me up. We became best friends in middle school. Negotiations for a Hallmark movie are underway
Kylee didn’t beat me up. We became best friends in middle school. Negotiations for a Hallmark movie are underway

Gradually, those feelings fade. You learn the rules, find your friends and realize you have no enemies. The heat of the spotlight grows cool as you discover it never actually existed–no one wants to beat you up.

I’m still learning the rules, but have definitely found friends and am pretty sure I have no enemies (even though I’m still apologizing to Carol the cook for eating in the kitchen). Now that the novelty has worn off and I’m settling in, it is so clear to me how lucky I am to be here.

Now the fun starts.

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