Freshman orientation had been two days of anxiety and stress. Middle school had been a social wash and she had emerged from graduation with minimal if not less social development. She’d spent her time at school reading at recess or doing homework during lunch. She’d reluctantly attended school dances, alone, opting to stand in the corner sipping on 7-Up and eating Ruffles.
All summer she’d been siking herself up. High school was going to be different. Words would come out of her mouth. She would speak to others and attempt to make friends.
Comfort zone…get ready to be stepped out of.
Her dad had gone with her to the initial meeting. It was okay, about half the kids still had their parents their. They had gotten there about five minutes early so there was a smattering of seats available as well as a swath of standing room.
With a class of forty-seven, she knew she was going to have to work fast to start making friends. From their perch by the wall and fruit platter, Kristina had spied an open seat next to a harmless looking Asian girl.
With all the bravery and confidence she could muster, she turned to her father and whispered, “I’m gonna’ sit down.” Heart pounding, she went up to the girl who was sitting in silence, texting someone on her cell phone.
She bent over to get in the girl’s peripheral vision. “Can I sit here?” This was a rhetorical question. No one ever says no.
“No. Someone’s sitting there,” she said, not even looking up.
It was like being punch in the kidneys. Kristina was so taken aback she didn’t say a words. She slinked away and went back to her dad.
“What’d she say?” he asked.
She bit her lip to hold back the tears of embarrassment. “Oh, it’s taken. It’s okay.”
The entire orientation she kept an eye on the seat, hoping behind hope that her mom or best friend in the entire world would sit there. During the entire forty-five minute speech by the Dean of Students, the seat remained empty. About ten minutes in, the girl decided it was a good spot for her purse.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with corny getting to know you activities and placement tests. As Kristina bubbled in answers to inane math problems and reading passages about Sojourner Truth, her mind kept wandering back to that seat. She had reached out and been turned down. There was a finite amount of confidence inside and she was about to reach her limit.