Sunday, January 17, 2010


I lived in Michigan when I was little. I was shy, and I loved my mom. Which basically means, I hated to go to school. The summer before my 2nd grade year, the school boundaries were changed, and I had to go to a different elementary school. I had a large group of friends in 1st grade, and not one of them transferred with me. It was tough, but after a couple months I started to make new friends. That's about when my 2nd grade teacher decided that I was bored, so she moved me up into a 3rd grade classroom that she thought would be more my speed. It wasn't, it was weird. I was still officially a 2nd grader, and so that made me the baby of the group, plus the following year when I actually was a 3rd grader, man, was I bored! I pretty much had 3rd grade twice in a row. Well, things eventually got more comfortable for me, until two months into my 5th grade year, when I was again moved up, this time officially and into 6th grade. In my school district, that didn't just mean changing teachers and grades, it meant moving from elementary school to junior high school.

It was around October. Everyone had already found their "groups". Lunch tables were spoken for, lockers were being shared, and the seating heirarchy on the bus was already firmly established. If you had a boyfriend, you were cool and got to sit in the back. If you didn't, you sat up front with the rest of the nerds. Guess where I sat? My shyness became more pronounced as I tried to figure out how to fit into this alien new world. Everything was drama. Mean girls put a can of dog food in my only friend's locker. Luckily, I got it out before she saw it, but I cried in my mom's arms for a long time that day.

Soon after the beginning of my 7th grade year, my parents decided to move to Arizona, and they put our house up for sale. I was soooo happy! I couldn't wait to get out of that school. The school year dragged on day by agonizing day as our house languished on the market. I distinctly remember one bad day when I asked my teacher for a bathroom pass, just so I could go out in the hallway and cry and pray that our house would sell so I could get out of there. I cried a lot at that school, in case you can't tell!

My prayers were finally answered in April, when we moved. During the four days it took us to drive from Michigan to Arizona, I started thinking about what lay ahead of me. It was hard enough to start at a new school in October, what would it be like in April? How would I make new friends, I was so shy? This school might actually be worse than the one I was coming from. Riding down the highway with my worried face pressed against the window and my little sister's head in my lap, I had a sudden surge of insight. The kids in Arizona didn't know I was shy! Maybe I didn't have to be the shy kid anymore. But how do you put aside a part of yourself that has been with you since you can remember? I knew I couldn't just make myself outgoing, at least not fast enough to make a difference at school. First impressions and all that, you know. But there was one thing I could do - I could pretend. I could act like I wasn't shy until I actually got over being shy for real.

That is what I did. I didn't change into an outgoing person overnight, but I did make a couple of friends right away, and that gave me the surge of confidence I needed to keep at it. I'll never forget the best moment of my junior high career, when I brought home an 8th grade progress report that said "Talks too much in class". I don't think my parents were too thrilled with that, but that progress report was a real symbol of victory for me, and today, as an adult, I don't think "shy" is how people would normally describe me.

So, of course this story has a moral. Everything is changing right now, for almost everyone. Jobs, school systems, ward boundaries. What opportunities lie ahead for each of us to ditch those habits or quirks that we really don't like in ourselves, and start fresh? For me, I'm going to work on being a better listener. In a book my mom loaned me, I was reminded that good listeners don't let their eyes wander off the person speaking to them, as if they are looking for something more interesting. Good listeners don't interrupt or finish people's sentences for them (my particular weakness). Good listeners don't try to one-up other people's stories. Good listeners realize that the questions people are asking them are often the questions they would like to be asked themselves. So next time someone comes up to me and says, "How are you doing with all of this?", I'm going to make sure I know how they are doing before the conversation is over.

This post is dedicated to my husband, who needs and deserves a fresh start. I'm rooting for you, hon.


Signe said...

Excellent post. I'm rooting for your husband too. I know he can do it! I didn't realize you spent sixth grade crying. Of course, had I been home I probably would have tried to help you out. I'm glad you figured out how to change things after you moved. Love you!

The Crider Clan said...


You and I really are a lot alike! I did the same thing when my fam moved to Pinetop. I had always been the "shy" girl here and could not break away from it...I decided to change myself when we got to Pinetop, and life was so much better ! I am also hoping for a new start in this new ward, so I hope J the best in his new start! Being smart enough to skip multiple grades...we do not have that in common! You are a smartie pants and I love ya!

Lecia said...

I was just quiet so the teachers thought I was a deep thinker!! P.S. You're practically perfect in every way, so don't make your new start too drastic!