Being the new kid is a giant fear for many of us going through transitions in life. Growing up a military kid all my life, I have had to move more than enough times. Wherever the Army needed my mom, we went.
The toughest move of them all was when I transitioned from middle school in Germany (yes Germany) to high school in Chicago. I was terrified since I didn’t know anybody. I assumed that everyone grew up together since they were in grade school and it would be hard for me to fit in.
Adapting to new situations was luckily my forte and I knew how to make my way into the crowd and meet new people.
If you’re reading this, you probably want to hear a positive story about how being the new kid doesn’t have to be scary at all. You would be right.
Having Hobbies Definitely Helps
Without even being in Chicago for two weeks, I made my way out to football camp as a freshman. Players and coaches quickly noticed my work ethic and team-player mentality. I was able to meet more than 40 people before the first week of school. No longer was my fear creating fake narratives in my head.
Although I didn’t grow up with these guys, we all had the same passion for football. The same inclusivity proceeded for track season and baseball season. I was accepted in a new community without having to do a whole lot of work besides be myself.
Some of my best memories in high school sports include:
- Hitting a grand slam against our rivals senior year
- Going 9–0 my junior year of football
- Scoring 4 touchdowns in one football game sophomore year
- Winning first place in the 4x1600 relay freshman year
There’s no way that I would have had as many fond memories as I do if I hadn’t done any sports. I am blessed to have been healthy each and every year to go out and compete.
Joining Clubs Opens Just as Many Doors
As a curious kid who wanted to make is college application look as pristine as possible, I knew I had to have extracurricular activities besides sports. Throughout my high school career I joined:
- Rotary Club (Volunteering)
- Rubik’s Cube Club
- Robotics Club
Although the clubs were very distinct in their own way, they allowed me to be well versed in different communities. I became a Rubik’s cube solver, a huge fan of serving others, and learning a thing or two about building technology.
Throughout high school I never dated any girls and it bothered me a bit, sure. But my main focus at the time was sports and grades, so my time would have been crunched had I had a girlfriend.
Taking risks was a new thing for me and I’m extremely glad that I used my time to improve myself through exposure to new communities. If you’re afraid to explore and be vulnerable to other people, it's okay. Not everyone is bad, there as some judgemental folks out there, but there are equally if not more positive ones!
Things End, but Memories Last Forever
I won’t lie to you. High school looks way better on TV. Remember High School Musical? I thought I would be the Zac Efron who plays sports and finds his Gabriella. Although that exact scenario didn’t exactly happen. Plenty of positives did.
Blessed to say so, I attended every single homecoming, every formal, and prom as the grand finale of it all. As long as you’re good to people, they’ll welcome you with open arms regardless of if you’re in high school or not.
As high school came to an end, I’ll never forget prom at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium (crazy right?) and our movie-like grad night capped off with a bonfire until sunrise.
Graduation itself was the cherry on top. Hearing my name “Jordan Mendiola” being called by my fellow center fielder Justin Mills caused the audience to roar a loud congratulations. At this point, I felt complete.
People are smart enough these days to see through a faker. The genuine authenticity is what people can respect and work with. Be true to yourself and learn to adapt. That’s how to be happier.