Forming Connections

by Elsie Rozario

Walking around the blacktop in elementary school, I never expected to make friends. Most other classmates had already found companionship, playing four-square or tag during recess with their peers. I preferred the isolation of walking. To me, it was better to be bored alone than stressed attempting to introduce myself to others.

Eventually, another person started walking with me. She approached me and began asking about my day and through our daily strolls, we formed a close friendship. As she began spending time with other students in class, our circle of friends grew larger and I was introduced to new people.

By the end of middle school, I had a large group of friends that I ate lunch with, complained to, and generally fooled around with. When they joined a club, I would follow their example and join too. When they decided to go out, I did the same. They became my whole world, despite the fact that I had put minimal effort into forming any of these relationships.

I took for granted the work my friends put into building our relationships until sophomore year, once most of my friends were attending different high schools. Coming back to school after the pandemic, I found myself isolated once again. Though I longed to have a close-knit group of friends, my desire for connection was overshadowed by my reluctance to put in the effort.

Eventually, I realized that if I wanted to form connections with others, it was something I would have to initiate myself. I decided to become more involved in extracurriculars, such as Robotics Club and Leo Club. In my classes, I started engaging in conversations more with my classmates, especially by getting more involved in partner or group projects rather than doing assignments on my own. Though I often felt awkward and was worried about coming off as strange, I began meeting many new people. I learned that in order to form lasting relationships with others, I must be willing to be less protective of my feelings and more open to having genuine interactions with others, even if they don’t always go perfectly.