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Nerves, Fears, Tears: a High School Orientation Story

By Yvonne Valtierra

We got up early this morning to get ready for my daughter’s high school orientation. She was quieter than usual, I’m sure because she was nervous. You see, she’s going to a different high school than all of her friends. She’s starting out not having a single friend there.

I walked her up to the school to turn in her paperwork and she asked me to wait with her. As we sat waiting for the gym to open, we scanned the crowd, hoping to maybe find a familiar face. She saw a couple of boys she knew, but refused to talk to them because it was “too awkward.”

(Speaking of awkward, I tried taking a picture with her as we sat waiting and OHMYGOD SO EMBARRASSING MOOooOOOm. But, I got my picture, even if it is only half of her face.)

I said a silent prayer that she would find ONE person she knows, but as each minute passed, not a single familiar face in the crowd of kids.

“I feel like I don’t belong here.” She said. Her words hit me like a punch to the gut. How could I just get up and leave my girl in a place where she felt so alone, so awkward, so out of place?

I tried my best to assure her that she was going to be okay and that she did belong there, even if it didn’t feel like it in that moment.

“You’re going to meet people today, you will find your people, girl. Maybe not today, maybe not even for a couple of weeks, but you WILL find your people.”

Just as I had given up all hope that she was going to find a friend, she noticed a girl that also went to her Jr.High.  “There’s B!” She said. She pointed her out to me and I asked if she was a friend.  She told me she didn’t know her well, it was just someone she had casually talked to a few times. I encouraged her to walk over and say hello, but the thing about my daughter is that she is super shy and making small talk or friends does not come easy to her. I pretty much had to force her to walk over and say hello.

She walked up to B,  tapped her on the shoulder and said hello. B smiled and gasped. “Oh my God, G! I’m so happy to see you! Can I please walk in the gym with you?” AND THEN THE GIRL STARTED TO CRY. Like, literal tears began falling fast down her face.  She, too, had been nervous about not knowing anyone and she was so relieved to see a familiar face, so happy to not have to walk into the gym all alone.

I couldn’t hold my tears back any longer. I just lost it. And so did B’s mom. We said goodbye to our girls and they walked off together, smiling, both happy to not have to face this huge milestone all alone.

I sat in the car for a few minutes to collect myself and drove off feeling grateful that at the last minute, my girl found a new friend to by her side as she began her high school experience.


(But also, the best.)

About the Author

Yvonne Valtierra