Talking to Strangers

January 16, 2009
By Diana Ma, West Jordan, UT

I’ve never been one to deny being stubborn. It is just how I am. I have always preferred to just stay in my comfort zone, where everything was safe. Anything new just didn’t appeal to me. Over the past few years, I’ve been slowly taught a lesson. It started on a day that I still remember clearly: the first day of school.

It is my freshman year, and I’m feeling pretty excited. The halls are crowded with reuniting friends. Everyone is walking around, comparing schedules.

“Sixth period biology! Nice!”

This continues until I’m feeling good about my classes. Wait a second… No one has said anything about third period! That’s not good. So I have an idea for my first two periods. I spend most of the time asking everyone around what they have for third period. No luck.

I don’t quite drag my feet to class because I’m the aide for my favorite teacher. But I certainly take my sweet time getting there. I walk in, and to my dismay, tons of unfamiliar faces greet me -- tons of eighth-grader faces. I now have to deal with what I have been dreading: a Spanish 1 class.

I’m friends with many people in my grade, so I’m happy to see some freshmen in there. Too bad the class gets a seating chart immediately. I get stuck in the back with zero freshmen and zero females. I am completely surrounded by hyped-up eighth-grade boys. Of course I’m a little bit upset. I’ve never met anyone that age who I actually like, and I don’t think these boys are any exception.

We all get settled in. The guys are all friends with each other. Soon enough, they start talking to me. This is weird. We are not in kindergarten anymore. We can’t just sit down and become best friends.

Oh fine. I don’t want to be in for a long semester.

“I’m good, how are you guys?”

Throughout the semester, I became closer to the guys. Señora Hansen would get annoyed with them because their backs were always facing her, while they talked to me. But outside of the class, I didn’t talk to them. I never even saw them. But I started seeing Chris a lot. I hardly even knew him though because he was the one who didn’t talk much; he just listened in and laughed at us.

I found out he was friends with two of my best friends. He had Algebra 2 with one of them and band with the other. One time he was hanging out with them. I saw him and I was like, “Hey! You’re in my third period! You need to talk more.”

Wow. Did I just say that? He was one of the eighth-graders I used to have a vendetta against, and now I want to talk to him more?

Well we did end up talking to each other more. Somehow we even started sending text messages to each other. I didn’t even think we were that close, but he began asking me for advice all the time.

Flash forward two years, where I’m eating my words. I was wrong. It was like kindergarten. I did sit down and meet my best friend. What if I had never been open-minded at all? With Chris I realized that with all the people I believed to be my best friends, they were just good friends. My relationships with them don’t compare to my friendship with Chris. I never even get to see him, but we’re still insanely close. We text each other almost every day, sometimes talking into the wee hours of the morning. We joke about the dumbest things, but we also give each other some deep advice. He is the only one I make dumb bets with. Had I stayed in my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have really known the meaning of “best friend.” Being open is the way to go in my opinion. But I’m still stubborn enough to deny otherwise.

The author's comments:
Just a note: In most places, middle school is split up from 6th to 8th grade. But in my school district, middle school is split up from 7th to 9th grade. Sorry if there is any confusion.

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