Form ones have finally been reporting to their new high schools. In true Kenyan fashion, we have seen those blue boxes doing rounds in the streets of Nairobi. Parents up and down, shopping for their children.
I made this journey not so long ago. And I must say that I was super excited to go to high school. Not for anything else but for the fact that I would get the opportunity to play sports.
I often wondered what it would be like to study in an all-girls school. Perhaps a softer, gentle environment as are the traits associated with girls and women? There were so many stories of what it would be like. Who to watch out for, who not to mess with, the trickery senior students use when interacting with the new breed and so on.
After all those many years, I'll let you in on what it'll be like when your parents finally drop you off.
There’s Nothing To Be Scared Of
Yes, you will have been told about the most feared student in the school. The one who the matron also handles with kids gloves because she can’t afford to upset her. When this student sneezes, the rest of the student population catches a cold.
You are a newbie. You are too eager to see this “big shot”. You are also more than eager to impress. Apart from this, you have also received other stern instructions of what you should never dare do and the places your new toughees should leave their footprints.
Tread very carefully, as you should. But don’t be afraid of anything. All you need is time to adjust. Soon enough, you’ll realise that those minor threats were nothing but a show of bravado.
The School Mum Thing
Everyone wants some cover from the harsh realities of life. High school students aren't different in this regard. You'll feel protected by having a senior student checking in on you every other time. These students, called school mums, who are essentially your peers, will always be at your service, kind of like how your actual mother is. You have a problem, they are there. You want advice or you need to tell off someone, they'll get all this done for you. But be very careful. Some are in it for their own gain. If you happen to get a school mum, figure out what kind of person she is. Good, make friends. PretentiouS, ditch her. Either way, look out for yourself.
Scan Your Environment
It’s very easy to get swayed in this new climate. You are itching to make new friends. Itching to get into the good graces of the senior students. You want to impress and because of this urge, you might find yourself nodding to every little thing requested of you.
The seniors will approach you with a sweet tongue. Make you feel protected and warmly welcomed. Some are genuine, others are pretentious. Keep your eyes peeled. Take your sweet time and get to know people. Listen to what is going. Evaluate the intentions of people who want to be in your circle. Soon enough, you’ll be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
This can be tricky. Striking the balance between being assertive and aggressive is not easy. When you are new, you don’t want to show your claws. You want to be gentle and welcoming. So again, it’s easy to agree to most things that’ll be asked of you.
This can be detrimental to you. People might feel like you are a pushover and try and take advantage of you. So from the get-go, have clear decisions and communicate them. More often than not, your peers will tease you in the beginning in an attempt to sway your opinions. If you stand firm, they’ll come to accommodate and respect your boundaries.
Popularity Is Overrated
You admire that student who needs no introduction because her bubbly personality already did it for her. As a newbie, you are probably wondering how you can hit such heights. You want a pile of friends and people to be at your beck and call. If that happens, enjoy its very brief run because it never really lasts. People get tired of being the supporting cast because everyone wants the stage to themselves. If you want to be popular and for that to last, be genuinely friendly to your fellow schoolmates.
This is the most obvious thing. For some people, it happens instantly. I remember a classmate of mine, let's call her Sue. By the end of the orientation session, the Friday before admission the following week, she was the talk of the school. It might have been for other reasons - her appearance - but she was equally extroverted.
In the first week alone after admission, the majority of those in form four knew Sue. They talked like they had known each other for years on end. On the other hand, your’s truly did the same at a snail’s pace but it still came full circle, say by the end of the first term.
It’s not a race. Do things at your own pace but ensure you aren’t sitting in the corners all alone. High school can be very fun if you handle it properly. It can also be very boring if you don’t know which buttons to press.
Enjoy these four years. They will fly by so quickly. Of course, when you are in the thick of things, you won’t realise this but in hindsight, you will.
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