Insider's Guide to High School The Tattoo

The horrible first day that wasn’t

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada — The thought of finally entering high school (the place where boys had real facial hair and people drove cars to school) seemed like the biggest feat in my short life when I first entered ninth grade.
I spent the whole month of August on the phone with friends discussing where we were going to meet on the first day in September, what school supplies we were going to buy and how we were going to style our hair.
Since I was going to a school with a uniform, I was relieved that clothes weren’t an added issue to my list of worries at the time.
I woke up that fateful first day of school at 4 a.m. I was so excited and nervous that I could no longer stay in bed and besides, the extra three hours game me time to perfect my practiced walk, and how I was going to say “hi” to new acquaintances.
Even these extra hours of preparation got me ready for the new world I was about to enter.
Looking back at the summer before high school, I realize I spent more time worrying about the social aspect of high school than the academic aspect.
Of course, I had asked numerous older friends if high school consisted of a lot of “hard work.”
Their answer was always, “Nah, it’s a breeze,” but having actually entered the classroom on my first day, I realized it was more of a desert storm in comparison to the “puff of air” that had been previously described.
I was bombarded with sheets to sign, a list of required school supplies, yearly academic lay outs and the same lecture in every class that consisted of priceless phrases such as, “Your life starts now,” and “Get ready to smell the coffee and start working!”
I sat in that first classroom that day regretting my lack of summer academic preparation and wishing I could return to the safe walls of elementary school.
Apart from feeling the sting of academic pressure, my heart began to race the second I entered the hallways after my first class.
In a high school consisting of almost 2,000 students, it seemed to me at the time that I was most definitely the smallest and un-coolest person in the school.
I bumped into people, held my schedule in my hand like a dork and searched frantically to find my classroom which always seemed to be hidden at the time.
After successfully making it through my first two classes alive, I made my way to the cafeteria. This was indeed the center of my fears. The dreaded cafeteria, where hundreds of students I didn’t know ate lunch.
I feared that I wouldn’t find anyone I recognized and I worried that bringing a lunch from home instead of buying one at the caf was dorky.
After summoning the courage within me, I opened the two doors and was incredibly delighted to see that all the other ninth graders looked just as petrified as I did.
I took a look around and found a bunch of my friends sitting at table. I was expecting to finally have a good moment in my school day, but the second my body touched the seat I heard a bell. To my astonishment, the bell signaled the end of lunch.
Apparently I had taken so much time going through the hallways, finding my locker again, and then finding the cafeteria, that my 40-minute lunch was over. Hastily, I put my lunch back into my bag and made my way to the third class of the day.
The final bell struck at 2:20 p.m., and I wasn’t relieved yet.
I hadn’t gotten home safely thus far, and this meant that I hadn’t yet lived to tell the tale of my first day in high school.
I still had to find my locker once more, pack my books and make it onto my school bus in time. I rushed to pack all my stuff and practically ran out of the building to find the right bus.
With the fear instilled in my mind that I would miss my bus and be forced to survive amongst all the older kids hanging out in the parking lot, I was the first person on the bus. Although I was truly relieved that the earlier fear had not become reality, I certainly didn’t want to be the first
nerd on the bus.
I chose a seat that wasn’t too far up or too far back in the bus. After the bus had loaded with about 20 other students, my breath had returned to its normal routine and was no longer staggered with panic.
This feeling was short-lived, however, when an 11th grad boy asked me if I was a freshman. My mind raced with panic and I answered with a meager, soft-spoken, “Yes.”
This encapsulated my first high school conversation with an older high school boy.
I rushed off the bus at my stop and walked two blocks to my home. I entered the house looking disheveled and stressed beyond belief.
My older sister looked at me with a mocking smile and asked how my first day went. I recounted the horror story and collapsed onto the nearby couch.
Her response, however, was the most shocking memory from that day.
“You didn’t fall down stairs? Accidentally drop all your books or get your shirt caught in your locker?” she asked. “Sounds to me like you had the ideal first day. Keep it up!”

Nicole Teixeira is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

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