This article was written by Dailey Jackson, Eye’s Teenage Reporter. She wrote it for her high school friends. Yet – it could also apply to adults too. Dailey is running for Ms. Bishop Kenny and we will be cheering her on. She’s a lovely, sweet, smart young woman and we are proud to have her on our team.
A huge part of the high school experience is about meeting people and making new friends, but do not be ashamed if you find it a daunting task. Entering into a new place with hundreds of people you have never met before can be a nerve-racking and emotionally-draining experience.
Remembering names, picking lunch tables and putting forward your opinions during heated group conversations can all add to the stress of your already busy schedule. Luckily, there are many different ways to not only meet new people, but also to make some great experiences while doing it.
Join clubs and try out for sports teams. Even though this may seem obvious, it is an important step to meeting new people. Not only are you going directly to the source by joining a club where people are encouraged to socialize, but clubs offer a way to experience the things you truly love! You can earn service hours, participate in competitions and learn more about different cultures just by joining. Being on a freshman or junior varsity sports team can also be a fulfilling experience that motivates you and your teammates to work together to improve your skills and earn a spot on varsity. By participating in sports and clubs you can relate to the people around you who are all working towards the same goal.
If you are still lost for words once you have joined one of these extracurricular activities, talk to someone about your newfound common interest. For example, if you have just joined the Medical Career Club, ask someone what they plan to be when they grow up, or what medical field they find most interesting. Once they see that you have made an effort to talk about something they love, they may do the same.
Pay attention in class. Of course, everyone should be listening to his or her teacher during a lecture (even if it is a three-day lecture on the life of Harriet Beecher Stowe and her effect on slavery during the Civil War). But listen to the names and look at the faces of your classmates when they get called on or volunteer to answer a difficult question.
Names are very powerful. They identify us as a unique person and are used in our everyday conversations. They can be used as a checkpoint in your brain to connect your first impression and recent memories with a new friend. When you know someone’s name, not only does it show the person that you care enough to learn and remember the name but also that you want to get to know the person. When you call someone using their name you demonstrate that the individual is important to you in that moment. A study done by Dennis P. Carmody and Michael Lewis showed that when a person hears his or her own name, four different regions of the brain become activated, including the medial prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for memory and decision making.
Simply remembering someone’s name can light the spark to a brand new friendship.
Think about your words. One of the most important parts of a friendship is communication, and knowing what to say before you begin speaking can lead to an enjoyable conversation for everyone involved. First of all, humor is key. Making people laugh releases endorphins, making them feel happy and confident. “These natural peptide chemicals produced in your body interact with receptors in your brain to help you feel focused, less impacted by pain and put you in a better mood,” doctor of natural medicine Dr. Axe said on his website draxe.com.
Crack a joke or make a funny observation to raise the positive atmosphere in a conversation. Another thing to talk about is the other person’s passions. If you know they are currently enthralled with Ready Player One, ask them what is happening in the book or if they have seen the movie. People feel thrilled when they finally get to discuss what’s on their mind.
These two conservation starters can encourage both of you to pay attention and listen to the other person’s wants and interests so you can talk about it later.
The last, and most important thing, is to be confident. Everyone, at least once in their life has been nervous about meeting someone new. The fear that you are going to mess up or say something wrong is totally natural, but don’t let it stop you from trying to make new friends. If it does not work out, that is okay. You are going to meet so many amazing people during high school who are caring and would love to be your friend. If you are trying to socialize with someone else and things seem a little awkward, chances are that the person is just as nervous to be talking to you as you are. Break the awkwardness with a joke or a smile and try not to think about things too much. Remember: your high school experience should be about you succeeding academically and having fun while doing it.
Make the most of your time in high school because you can only experience it once!