BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — My clearest memory of my first day in high school is frantically scanning the 200-plus faces in the cafeteria, desperate to find a familiar one, willing myself to radiate a sense of cool and maturity as I tightened my grip on a Pocahontas lunch box.
I ended up sitting on the deserted end of an otherwise full bench, which I later learned is the designated special ed table.
Two years later, I realize the cafe was full of future friends and even more kind-hearted individuals that would have been happy to share their bit of gray Formica with a freshman refugee.
To avoid such seating induced trauma, I offer a few words of advice.
Instead of looking for people, look for things.
The T-shirt with the name of your favorite band, the cluster of cleats that match the ones being crushed by your history book, the Invader Zim backpack patch you couldn’t get after splurging on the Gir comforter.
It’s easier to ask to join a group by complimenting their musical taste or asking what time practice is than by using the fallback, “any room?”
You could also look for someone you recognize from a morning class. You’ll have your bottom rung seniority in common, and have at least one string of conversation to follow: how much your teacher inspires you – or inspires you to vomit.
There’s always the possibility that the alignment of the planets will be against you, and you’ll end up in a caf of upper classmen who’ve just watched “Dazed and Confused” and would rather offer you a paddle than a seat.
Be prepared – and remember, Sudoku is very in right now.
Molly Horan is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.