Just Need to Fit in This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

September 15, 2013
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Round, circular glasses. Dark sweater knit by my sweet grandma, love in every stitch. Baggy dark jeans, no designer label on the back. Matted, wildly curly hair that refuses to cooperate. Uncool backpack, leftover from middle school. Ratty tennis shoes, not designer. No makeup.

Being a freshman – “Freshie,” the upperclassmen call me as I pass – is hard enough. Being a nerd only makes it harder.

First day of high school goes like this: I clutch my books to my chest as I race up the stairs and through the mass of students because my backpack is not big enough to hold everything. My curly hair escapes my ponytail and lets awkward red spirals fly out behind me. My glasses slip down my nose. My shoelaces are untied. Upperclassmen scrutinize me, like they think I don’t belong in their school. Other freshmen ignore me.

I am a nerd. I know this, my family knows this, my nonexistent friends know this. I am friendless, a loner, a social outcast. Any 14-year-old girl who doesn’t own a single pair of designer anything or wear a drop of makeup is an outcast, right? A nerd? If you answered yes, congratulations, you are correct.

Better clothes would make me look older. New shoes would make my feet look smaller, cleaner. Better hair would make me look prettier.

Makeup would make me fit in.

I desperately need to fit in.

“Freshie,” calls a burly football player as I stumble over my untied shoelace.

“Lonely freshie,” sneers a cheerleader as I stand alone in the cafeteria and look for a place to sit. I am unsuccessful.

“She’s such a nerd,” a fellow freshman whispers to her friend, who is a sophomore. Because the freshman is friends with a sophomore she thinks she’s cool, because being friends with someone who is older is cool.

When I get back to my locker to drop off my books before I get on the bus, two seniors are kissing against it. They are tall, older, and intimidating. If I interrupt their make-out session, I am done for.

I wait for them to be done before I approach my locker which is crawling with their germs and spit, I assume. I spin the dial. 35-28-10, click, open. Huh. No click, no open. I try again. 35-28-10, click, open. No click, no open. 35-28-10, no click, no open. I kick the metal door and walk away with an uncool backpack full of unneeded books.

Bus 55 is my bus. I walk up and down the row of buses looking for bus 55. 48, 23, 91…no 55. Ah, there it is. Bus 55, right there at the front of the line, closing its doors. Wait. Bus 55, closing its doors before I am on. Uh-oh.

I run toward bus 55 but it is already pulling away, leaving me behind to trip over my untied shoelaces and fall flat on my face in front of a group of girls. My twenty pound backpack presses on my back like a rock.

I am forced to walk home. I am passed by other students who have cars to drive. It doesn’t matter if they miss the bus because they have a car. They can drive wherever they want. My uncool backpack digs into my slumping shoulders. My lame shoes are hurting my feet.
“How was your first day of high school?” asks my mom as soon as I walk into my house. I drop my twenty pound backpack on the white-carpeted floor.

“Atrociously and unspeakably horrific,” I answer, and drag my uncool butt upstairs, where I listen to my out-of-style nerd music until I fall asleep.

Ugh. The second day of school. I roll out of bed and pull on yet another pair of not-designer jeans that sag in weird places and a shirt that makes me look twelve instead of fourteen. I put my too-curly auburn hair in a sloppy ponytail and go downstairs, my dirty shoes marking up the impeccably white carpet with dirt.

“Have fun at school, freshman!” Mom says enthusiastically when I finish my breakfast and pass her on my way out the door.

I hitch my backpack over my shoulder and say, “Highly unlikely and improbable suggestion.”

Bus 55 drops me off at school. I melt into the pack of students travelling to Varsity Hall, which is where my locker is located.

Ugh. The seniors are making out against it again. Last thing I need is more spit on it.

35-28-10, click, open. No click, no open. I kick the door and hear a crash from within. Whoops. 35-28-10, click, open. Click, open! Victory for the nerdy loner freshie!

Victory is short-lived, though. My kick to the door knocked my supplies off the shelf and it all crashes down and out into the hallway now. Crap. I scramble to gather it all but the students passing by kick it as they walk.

Laughs. Sneers. Snickers. Not one person will help a nerdy freshman.

A hand unexpectedly picks my pencil bag up off the floor. My eyes look at the slightly hairy arms, definitely masculine, the plaid shirt, khaki shorts and suspenders paired with Chuck Taylors before they find the face of an older, somewhat attractive male version of me.

Round, circular glasses. Plaid shirt, khaki shorts, suspenders, and Chuck Taylors. Uncool, absolutely overused backpack, possibly leftover from middle school. Unshaven face. Big ears. Awkward, slightly loopy smile. Disheveled brown hair.

“Looked like you needed some help,” says the boy, though I should probably call him a man because he has a hairy face and arms, which means he is a man. High voice, too high for a boy – sorry, man.

“Uh, yeah,” I say, and I realize it’s the first thing I have dared utter throughout my entire high school experience. I take my pencil bag from him and stuff it in my locker, switch out my binders and textbooks, and leave with a dramatic whirl because that’s what you’re supposed to do when an older boy whom you are not acquainted with steps in and saves your nonexistent social life.

Lunchtime. I have no place to sit again. My knuckles are clenched tight around my burgundy tray.

“Hey.” High voice, too high for a man – look, I got it right this time.

I turn and say “Hey” as nonchalantly as possible, like I’m not completely shocked by the fact that an older, albeit nerdy, man is speaking to me in front of the entire cafeteria.

“Need a place to sit?” I nod and follow Male Version of Me to a table filled with other boys just like him.

I sit next to Male Version of Me and wonder how a nerdy freshie will fit in with a group of what I have determined to be senior boys.

The senior men don’t seem to mind that I am sitting with them, even though I am a mere freshman. No one even glances my way because I am sitting at a table full of nerds so my nerdiness doesn’t stick out like it does when I’m by myself.

When we’re walking out I ask Male Version of Me why he let me sit with him and his friends.

“Because you’re like us.”

“A nerd, you mean?” Because we have nothing else in common that I know of.

He sighs. “You’re a freshman, correct?”

“Yes.” I ask again why he let me sit with him.

Male Version of Me stops to look down at me and answers in his unusually high voice. “Because you’re someone who just needs to fit in, and those of us who just need to fit in band together so that we can finally fit in.”

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

yellowpencil said...
Sept. 17, 2013 at 7:19 pm
Wow... This thing brings up a very good point actually. When alone, find others that are alone. LOGIC. Anyway, great job!!! :D LOVE IT!
Misha replied...
Sept. 17, 2013 at 9:00 pm
Lol. This was me-excuse me- is me, just slightly less nerdy.
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