Welcome to this new chapter of your life. I am not here today to give you the classic “get out of your comfort zone” speech, but hear me out. Four years ago, I was in the same place as 130 of you. Homesick, even though I lived 30 minutes away. I hardly spoke English and I was scared. Scared of coming to a new school where I did not know a single soul except my Grade 12 brother who honestly did not care to hang out with me.
Even though a prefect came up to me and told me to get involved and try new things, it was easiest for me to follow the people I knew, hold onto my phone and stay in my room rather than go out to explore what was still the unknown.
Although Stanstead had been a place I was dreaming about, I could not get myself to change way I was reacting to this situation. Let me be straight: I am a very distracted kid. Giving one person 100% of my attention can be pretty challenging if there are distractions around. This made creating bonds with new people a little more complicated. I saw everyone around me creating new friendships, new connections while I kept following the same three friends. Every time I tried to meet new people, I would get overwhelmed, my tummy would ache, my muscles would tense up, I would change my path 9 times out of 10 and go straight back to my bunk bed.
It is normal to feel this way. As humans, we always fear other’s perceptions, and we are the fastest to judge others. In my Grade 10 ERC class, Mr. G pointed out something that always stuck with me. When someone walks in the room, the first thing you think about is how you hate their shirt or that their bangs look uneven. Do you really think others don’t do so as well? And looking back now, this is what scared me the most. I was scared of not being enough, doing something silly or even humiliating myself.
Now I look back at the things I did this past week and, oh well, I definitely humiliated myself a couple times but it was so much fun, and look how many new friends I made! I realized that when I participate in those awkward situations, it makes people feel more comfortable around me. Showing a vulnerable side when put into awkward situations like meeting people for the first time is not bad at all. This is how I created most of my friends here. Actually, I met one of my best friend here by pretending I was in a boxing ring on the basketball court. Looking back, he probably thought I was some crazy person, but this led to one of my strongest bonds.
Although I did not realize it back then, this is probably what Stanstead taught me, that I would carry for my entire life. I can recall that my strongest friendships here were built from those awkward situations where I initiated a weird interaction. Like the story with my friend, when that happened, he started joking around with me and that made him comfortable around me.
Now, I am not trying to tell you to do something stupid in order to make friends. But maybe the silly side of you is what people love about you. So don’t take yourself too seriously.
When I look back, I am almost embarrassed to imagine my Grade 9 self standing in a crowd of amazing people and only paying attention to my phone. Don’t make the same mistake as Grade 9 Rosema. Because time flies here. Next thing you know it will be June and you will be crying at graduation. So if you only remember one thing from my speech: please, get out there, be yourself and show that different side of you that makes you so unique. For you, it might not be the same silly and distracted side as me. But this place is filled with different people, cultures and ideas, and I can guarantee you will find your match. Challenge that tummy ache and I promise, it will be worth it.