New Girl No More
BY: JULIE LEVIN
One of the biggest struggles of my life was moving across the country, but it’s made me the person I am today — and a stronger one. The summer before my freshman year of high school, my family and I moved from New Jersey to Arizona. While my brother and I had never been there before, my parents had visited a few times and had completely fallen in love with the sunny desert, a huge contrast to our often snowy Philadelphia suburb. They felt awful having to move us away from our friends and loved ones at such an important point in our lives, but it truly was best for our family at the time. Still, knowing that didn’t make it any easier. We’d never moved before and to a completely different place at that! I remember when we arrived we were shocked to see no kids on the street. “Where are all the people?” we wondered. In the 100-plus degree heat, everyone was inside, and my brother and I were used to playing on the street with our neighbors all summer every summer. It was definitely a culture shock.
Fast forward to the start of school. While I’d always considered myself a friendly person, it was pretty intimidating starting high school and seeing cliques had already formed. Many students already knew each other from middle school. I was that new girl I’d never wanted to be. I bounced around from group to group that entire year, but nothing felt exactly right. I was never quite happy. After feeling sorry for myself for a while that summer, I promised myself sophomore year would be different. On the first day of the year when in line to pick up my schedule, I noticed a girl I knew from choir standing nearby. We had talked before but never actually hung out. She was a bit quiet in class like me but seemed nice. Gathering up some courage, I asked her if I could sit with her and her friends that day at lunch. (Lunch was always the loneliest time for me.) Luckily, she said yes, and the decision to approach her literally changed my life. I instantly felt a connection to that group of girls who were beyond welcoming. Not only were the last three years of high school so much better, I’m still best friends with them — even serving as a bridesmaid for two of them!
So here starts the advice portion of my blog, for anyone dealing with a move like this or even a big change in life:
- Your life is not ending. Sure, the move was the biggest challenge of my life, and I felt like I was leaving everything I had ever known behind, but the life I established here changed me for the better. I would not be the person I am today without it, and I would never have met the people I have met and had the experiences I’ve had.
- Be brave. It’s intimidating to be the new girl and put yourself out there, but I tried to talk to everyone I could in order to find the right people to connect with. I also joined groups like choir even though I didn’t know anyone.
- Be patient. It took me a good year before I finally settled in felt comfortable at school.
- Believe things will get better. It’s hard not to give up hope, but trust in yourself and in the process.
- Get outside of your comfort zone. It wasn’t easy for me to approach new people constantly and to be vulnerable to rejection, but struggling to find the right group of friends eventually worked out for the very best. Going up to someone I really didn’t know well and asking a simply question ended up changing everything.
- Be confident. Fake it until you make it, girl!
Julie is a digital producer, on-air news anchor, writer and a self-proclaimed history and classic rock geek. When she's not behind the scenes or mid broadcast, she's hitting the town trying new restaurants or meeting up with as many friends as possible in one day.