How can I fit in at school?
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TIPS for Fitting In:
- Based on your deepest values, decide which kids are worth “fitting in” with. Sometimes the most “popular” kids will end up taking you down with them as they make poor choices. Who deserves your time?
- Stop trying too hard to “fit in.” Forcing yourself to be someone you’re not just to fit in takes energy away from being your authentic self. Better to spend that energy enjoying being with those who share your values and interests.
- Lead instead of follow. For example, if you really like a certain activity—whether it’s RC cars or collecting business cards—encourage others to join you in sharing the experience. Not everyone will be as excited about your interests as you are, but some will! Be the kind of person others will want to “fit in” with.
- Be aware that everyone else wants to fit in too. Don’t think you’re the only one who wants to feel accepted. You’re not weird—you’re wired to share life with others—and they are too! Eventually you’ll get together.
- Take it easy. Fitting in takes a little time. If you’re just heading into middle school, you’re got plenty of time to fit in. Be yourself and good things will happen when the time is right.
Fitting in with the famous kids
Joining the “in” group of girls would come at a price
by Gizelle Panton / Photo credits to Sanja Gjenero
Ever since the beginning of the school year I had wanted to be an FK. That’s what we called the popular students in my grade. It stands for “famous kids.” I don’t really know why I had this desire. Maybe because everyone wanted to be like them, or maybe because they had such awesome clothes and accessories, or maybe even because all the guys in my grade liked only the FK girls. Whatever the reason, I had always wanted to be one of them.
One day at lunch I picked up my egg-salad sandwich and took a bite. I saw one of the FK girls across the classroom pick up a bowl of fancy sushi and nibble at it with her stylish chopsticks. I sighed. Even their food was better than mine!
My best friend, Jasmine, noticed me staring. She picked up the other half of my sandwich and took a bite.
“Wow,” she exclaimed, “this sandwich is delicious! Best one I’ve ever tasted.”
I knew she was just trying to make me feel better, but still, I smiled and gave her a hug. “Jasmine,” I whispered, “you’re the best friend ever.”
A few minutes later the school bell rang, signaling that lunch was over. Our teacher made us separate our desks, and she handed out a spelling test to each of us. Everyone around me was tense, and so was I, but soon my confidence built. I had studied hard the night before, and I knew that God would help me remember the correct answers.
We began the test, and I finished it in no time. One of the FK girls who sat near me looked up and mouthed, Gizelle, are you done already? I nodded, and she gave me a small smile. I don’t get question 3, she mouthed again. What’s the answer?
I gazed at my test paper, then back at the FK girl. This was my chance! I could get the FKs to like me, and then I could hang out with them and someday be one of them! But I knew that giving her the answer was cheating, and cheating is wrong. If the teacher found out, we’d be in so much trouble! And, most important, I would be disappointing God. But as I looked at the FK girl’s smiling face, I gave in to the temptation and mouthed back,
Agitation is spelled A-G-I-T-A-T-I-O-N.
After the test Jasmine walked over to my desk. “I think I did well on the test,” she said happily. “Let’s go work on our art projects together.”
I smiled, turned my head, and saw the same FK girl that I’d helped. She winked at me. “I know I passed the test!” she said loudly.
I turned back around and followed Jasmine, but with each step I took I felt less and less proud and more and more guilty about what I’d done About three days after the cheating incident Jasmine was absent from school. I had no one to play with at recess, so I slowly walked over to the FKs’ meeting spot along the wall of the school at the back of the playground.
As I walked up, a couple of FKs looked at me funny; others smiled; and some just stared. “Hey, Gizelle!” one of the FK girls called. She was standing beside the girl who had been eating sushi a few days earlier. They both had smiles on their faces. I was surprised that they knew my name and that they hadn’t just called me “girl.”
“Yes?” I asked quietly.
She motioned for me to get closer. “Come here!”
I walked over, nervous butterflies fluttering inside my knotted stomach.
“Aren’t you and Massey* friends?” the girl asked.
“Yeah . . .” I replied. Where is she going with this?
She let out a giggle. “Eww!” she squealed. “How can you put up with her?
She’s so annoying and weird! Oh, and she stinks so much! It’s like she’s a walking dumpster!”
“Yeah!” the sushi girl agreed. “And have you seen her teeth? They’re not even yellow—they’re, like, green!”
The two let out cackles and snorts, but I stood there speechless. How could they talk like that about my friend? Yeah, Massey wasn’t my best friend, but she had always been very nice to me. I’d invited her to my slumber party, and she even sat with me on the bus!
I wondered if I should join in on the rude comments they were making about Massey, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. If Massey heard, she’d be crushed, and I was absolutely positive that God would not want me to hurt her like that.
I didn’t want to upset God, but I didn’t want to upset the FKs, either. Which one was more important to me? I thought about it really hard until the answer became clear.
As the two FK girls continued making fun of my friend, I walked away, suddenly feeling very disappointed with my actions over the past few days.
The FKs aren’t actually popular! I realized. They’re mean, insecure people who make fun of others to feel better about themselves! And I wanted to be one of those people? Well, not anymore!
Just then Massey came up with a big smile on her face. Her teeth were perfectly fine, and she smelled like cherries.
“I just got this awesome book!” she declared. “Want to come read it with me?”
I looked back at the FKs, who were too engrossed in their gossiping to even notice me. Then I turned to Massey.
“Sounds great,” I said, smiling. I linked arms with her, and we skipped off together, laughing.
After that day I realized that I didn’t need to be an FK anymore. I had caring friends and a loving family, and I had God, the one who had always been watching over me.
I still talk to the FKs, but I no longer look at them with envy or jealousy in my heart. Now I know that I should have more faith in myself and be proud of who I am. I should always just be me, and I shouldn’t try to change my friends, either.
I love God, and I know that He loves me. I trust in Him, and I know that if I live my life pleasing Him, I’ll go to heaven when Jesus comes again, and I will meet Him—the one who has always loved me for who I am.
*Not her real name