The last quarter of the school year had begun, and my friend Laura had joined the small group at a lunch table with me. I had been with them all year; we were all stuck in the last lunch period and tied to make the best of our unfortunate situation. A few feet over was a table empty of occupants except for one girl. Her name was Carolyn and she either had a nose in a book, or was working on her homework. She wasn’t very popular in social terms, and always wore long skirts and modest tops. Quiet and conserved, she sat alone for about a week before Laura and I couldn’t take it anymore.
We approached her with pleasant smiles on our faces. “Hey, Carolyn,” Laura said. Carolyn looked up from her book. “We were wondering if you’d like to sit with us.” Carolyn looked slightly stunned, but smiled as she quickly gathered her belongings and traveled the few feet to our table.
The next day, she was about to sit alone again, but looked at me before she sat down. I beckoned her over and pulled up a chair for her. No one, I thought, should sit alone at lunch.
I know it’s hard for people to just walk up to someone and talk to them. In fact, it can be downright terrifying. I know because I’ve spent so many classes friendless and alone because I was too scared to just talk to people. But it has occurred to me over the years that a moment of terror in nothing compared to a quarter, or semester, or year of loneliness because you are the only person in the class who can never seem to find a partner. The simple action of just turning around and saying “Hi,” to the girl sitting behind you can do no harm to either. Believe me, I did it once, and I not only made a new and unforgettable friend, but I also saved the girl from becoming a recluse as her other friend drew farther and farther away.
When we hit high school, is that the time to stop opening up to new people? Is that the time to close up your circle of friends and huddle together in a compact and unvarying hoard of familiar faces? No, it’s time to push your circle to the limits; to stretch it and pull it, manipulate it in such a way that no one would be able to recognize it as a circle any more. It’s time to smile at strangers in the hallway and open up doors to fellow peers. It’s time to invite that girl sitting by herself over to your lunch table.
My philosophy has always been to open up try to make no one feel alone. I don’t like that feeling, and don’t expect anyone else to like it either, so why not smile and say “Hello”? This, I believe.
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