My hands wrapped around the chilled handle as I pulled the heavy door open. When I walked through, I realized I was finally in my soon-to-be high school. Before I was in, my parents had to fill out the last little amounts of paperwork that would grant me my admittance. I was nervous, mainly because just a week ago I was surrounded by my friends I’d known since fourth grade. Maritime Academy, my old school in Northeast Philadelphia was relatively big. It was a traditional school, with textbooks and paper. We would only use computers for special occasions, or classes orientated around them. I knew that I wanted change, so I sought out Science Leadership Academy. My intuition lead me to these very doors. I was nervous, to the point where my stomach churned with every footstep I took.
“Hi, you have to sign in before heading upstairs,” said a woman dressed in a black uniform.
My mom nodded in agreeance and explained to the woman, that we had a meeting with the principal. We were pointed to the elevator, and proceeded to go up. I could feel my stomach drop with anticipation as the elevator glided up to the second floor. There were kids laying across the floor, throwing balls and blasting music.
“What is this lunch? What are they feeding these kids? They're practically bouncing off the walls,” said my stepdad.
This lead us to all chuckle in sync to our shared confusion, but the laughter did not uplift my nervousness. Mainly now, because I didn’t know where I would fit in this social atmosphere. I was invisible, as we passed through the hallway. It was a narrow yellow hallway, but somehow broad enough to fit every student possible. The hallway to the office was a straight route, but we somehow found ourselves making twists and turns to avoid the bodies that were in the way. Everyone seemed like they knew where they belonged, and how everything worked even though they all looked like freshmen just like me. Similar to Murph and Bartle, my world was changing right before me. The only difference, was they were going into the unknown of war and I was entering my first year of high school. Although now I reflect, and although it may sound exaggerated to me it felt exactly the same. Time seemed to go slow, but we finally made it and were greeted by two men. One was relatively casual, dressed in a button up shirt and jeans. The other man was dressed in a suit. They were the complete opposite of each other. My parents filled out the paperwork, we shook their hands, and then left. I was now a student at Science Leadership Academy.
Summer was finally over, and so was freshman year. I was excited for a new start. It seemed like the year before went completely over my head. I was excited at the thought of being surrounded by a new class of people, and new teachers. I met my boyfriend upstairs and was greeted by my friends from last year.
“Did you hear about what happened this summer?”
I was pulled aside, and was told of all the fresh gossip that would make me up to date with all the current affairs at school. The whispers of unknown truths and lies filled my ears and my jaw opened in disbelief. I was so into what was being said, I hadn’t noticed my boyfriend, Jahmar, had walked away in frustration. I had let my friends know I’d be back, and went to find him. When I finally did, he was by the huge windows on the third floor. His back was against the cool blue lockers, in which truth be told needed some remodeling. The light from the windows over casted the whole hallway, making it nice and warm from the sun.
“What’d I do now?”
“Nothing, I just don’t like the fact that your supposed friends always bring you into drama. It’s not good, because it’ll distract you from why you’re really here. You remember last year?”
I nodded in agreement, and suddenly all my mistakes from freshman year flashed before my eyes.
“You were so focused on making friends and fitting in, your grades weren’t the best. You know you can do better,” he said with a slight frown on his face.
I knew it was time to focus on bettering myself as a whole, but what about my friends. Were they really my friends? I nodded it off, gave him a hug and we went our separate ways, class was about to start. As I headed to class, I was stopped again. This time it was casual conversation, from a group of girls I hadn’t talked to all summer. We exchanged numbers and talked about everything we heard so far about the people in our grade.
“Did you hear that she had like four boyfriends this summer?” Said one girl.
“That’s disgusting, she needs a thorough cleaning.”
I stood there, stunned by the fact they were talking about their own friend. By the time the conversation was over I was fifteen minutes late to class. I didn’t care though, there was too much to be talked about, and too many people to talk to. So I slowly made my way to Biochem.
As soon as my foot touched the other side of the door frame, I was welcomed with an angry tone.
“Oh nice of you to join us, we picked seats but since you were late you were assigned one.”
She pointed to a chair in the front of the class. I couldn’t do nothing but roll my eyes, and trudge my way to my seat. I pulled out my notebook, and got through all the first day of school antics.
The next day, before school my boyfriend and I went to get breakfast from Arch Gourmet. It was basically the hangout for science leadership students. It was so bad, that the principal literally had to come everyday to pull students out for school. Once we got our food we headed across the small street, and into the two glass doors of the school. We went our separate ways, when I finally reached the fifth floor I let out an exasperated sigh.
“Were you talking about me?” Said a voice from behind.
“No, who told you that?”
“Don’t worry about it, and don’t have my name come out of your mouth.” She was so loud, it seemed like almost on purpose. Everybody stopped to watch. I heard low chuckles and conversations, obviously about what was going on. She walked away with an agitated grunt, and went back into her class. It was like she was waiting for me, but at the same time she came out of nowhere. I was confused but, I continued on heading to class. When I got to class, I texted Jahmar to tell him what happened.
It’s like she came out of nowhere and knew where I was like it was planned. The other day her own friends were talking about her, I just was around them. Somebody in that group had to have said something to cover their own butt. It makes no sense.
He replied quick, almost if he knew I was in distress.
You just need to think about who you’re around, and who really is your friends. They were all probably talking about you too. You never know.
Those last three words stuck to me, every time the same group of girls came up to me to say hi. From that point on, I was fine being by myself. I realized trying to make peace with everyone in school I in a way lost myself. Before coming to SLA I was passionate about drawing and my work, but when I only thought about the social aspect of school it slowed me down. It went from me doing my work or drawing occasionally to not at all. Days went on, I started to only worry about me and my boyfriend. At lunch, instead of being energetic and practically running around the school, I sat and did my work. It became a routine, and I finally came to the conclusion that it was okay.
Having this experience made me okay with being in tune with myself. Before, especially during freshman year and sophomore year I wasn’t. I think when you hear about high school or see it on TV. They focus mainly on the social part. Compared to the complete dynamic of school as a whole. When I first heard of SLA, I thought the school was the absolute perfect fit. When I came to tour I saw everyone getting along, it was a friendly and free atmosphere. Kids were in groups, wandering the halls and blasting music.When I finally did come to the school, I was ultimately alone. I wasn’t okay with that, so I tried to fit in with everybody. I Came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be able to please everyone and drama would occur somewhere down the line. The social norms of highschool doesn’t really fit everyone. There’s is more to it compared to the polished ideal in myself and others head.