It’s that time of year again. Students with signatures all over crisp white school shirts. One day they are here; the next there’s an empty seat where your friend used to be. And this happens over and over again, until one day you may decide that what’s the point in making new friends – it’s only emotional investment to be ripped away. And it can be hard, so, so hard to see your group, once so close scattered across the globe. Instagram photos of new friends, of new adventures, of new lives, while you wander lost around the school, trying to figure out now where you fit amongst the cliques left behind. How do you approach those acquaintances, that person in your English class, or the others left here in limbo? Maybe you won’t bother. Maybe you will decide that hiding out in classrooms to ‘finish your coursework’ is a better choice. Maybe head down, headphones on in the ELC is a better bet. At least your grades will go up you think to yourself. But you are lonely.
So here it is. We don’t really talk about the emotional hardship, of the loss felt by those who stay. We know it is hard for those who leave. But for those who stay some of you will have lost 4, 5, 6, 7… countless people who were close to you. The school is the same but it’s not really the same. Pretending you don’t care is a coping strategy – creating arguments before they leave so it is easier to say goodbye only makes the pain worse. Tell them you love them. Tell them what they mean to you.
Remember there are others in school who feel the same; others that have had friends leave and may also need a connection. Think about the type of friendship you need (big group? 1 close friend?) Join a random CCA that you’re interested in (rather than what would “look good”). Say hello to the other people hiding out in the studyhall, the classrooms, the library. Think about what makes you happy and do more of that. Ask if you can sit in the canteen with friendly faces. Talk about school work if you don’t know what to say. Allow yourself to feel sad. If you feel overwhelmed speak to someone, a teacher, a tutor a counsellor.
Look out for each other out there– if you are lucky enough to have your friends stay – look out for those who don’t. Invite them to sit with you. Say hello in the corridors. Ask them if they are okay. Our words are powerful and you should never underestimate the impact of a small gesture.
This post was originally written for and posted on The Wallflower Project