When I was an intern here at WIM, we were asked to share unique facts about ourselves to get to know each other better. One of the things I shared was that I’ve switched schools around eight times in my life, nine if we’re counting me entering kindergarten without going to nursery school. This, apparently, isn’t a common thing. Most children only experience two to three school switches in their lifetimes. Some even have those loyalty awards because they’ve stuck with a single school for all of their lives! Suffice to say, I really can’t relate.
Here’s a brief history: I entered kindergarten, switched schools for my second year of kindergarten, moved to a new place in the middle of that year, started grade 1 in a different school, switched schools in grade 2, moved in the middle of grade 3, moved again for grade 6, got into my first college, and then ditched that place for the university I graduated college from. It’s a rollercoaster and, at first, I felt like one of those emo Disney Channel original movie characters but now that I’m looking back, I’m grateful for the experience. However, moving around a lot didn’t come without its difficulties, too.
Here’s how moving around and always being the new kid affected me:
I didn’t have a permanent set of friends
This one’s obvious. When we’re young, friends are often the people we see in school and no one else. I remember after that first move, I tried so hard to keep in touch with my old friends. I sent them snail mail and everything (yes! snail mail!). We didn’t have the luxury of Facebook Messenger or even internet when I was a kid, okay? I did this every time I had to move. I liked writing letters and I still have the box of letters my friends sent me in return. But eventually, the letters stopped coming. When I talk about my friends from ‘back in the day’, they’re a combination of friends from at least three different schools. It’s wild.
I don’t identify with any ‘school spirit’
School spirit is really hard to feel when you’re being yanked around to different places every other year. Just when I was feeling like I was finally belonging in a community, I got whisked away to a different school. When I first started college at my first university, I thought ‘yes, finally, I’m going to be proud to be a Cardinal’ (that was our mascot) but then not even a year later, I had to get out of there because the environment I was in and the major I was taking didn’t agree with my mental health. I feel like I ditched the ideation of school spirit after that.
I don’t have a place to call a ‘hometown’
A big factor in my school-hopping experience is the fact that we moved around a lot; so much so that whenever we start settling into a specific place, I get restless since I’m not used to staying in one place for more than a couple of years. Life just kind of set itself up that way and, as a child, I really had no say in it. Still, sometimes, I want to feel what it’s like having a place you can call a ‘hometown’. This is usually where people grew up and where the rest of their relatives are. I grew up all over the place.
I got used to being alone
Being the new kid meant always having to adjust with other people’s environments and micro-cultures. I think I’ve gotten the hang of making friends now that I’m an adult but back when I was a tiny, insecure human, I would talk to absolutely nobody. I wasn’t the new kid in school people wanted to be friends with because they thought I was a snob when in reality, I was just terrified. Because of this, I got used to being alone. It’s not so bad once you get the hang of it. I personally retreated into fiction. Apparently, that’s where loners find comfort.
I grew very independent at a young age
Aside from being the eldest child, which contributed to the demand for my independence, moving around and being new also helped greatly with this. Backpacking off my previous point, I was alone most of the time in the early stages of my moves. Only having yourself to depend on makes you a tough b*tch, to be honest. You can go to the restroom by yourself without a whole posse with you, talk to the teachers your classmates are scared of, and eat your lunches alone. This is probably the most important thing I’ve learned from the whole thing. It feels good being independent.
At the end of the day, despite me developing a fear of anything permanent, I got out of that whole thing (almost) scot-free. It’s honestly scary to think what the alternative is since I learned so much from the experiences I’ve gone through in my life, so yes, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Looking back at it now, school-hopping was kind of fun since I got to reinvent myself every single time.
How many times have you switched schools? Share your stories with us!