I stared at the striking matador painted on the wall and held my breath. I kept my head low, walking through ecstatic, scream-filled hallways. Friends excitedly hugged each other around me. A voice in my head that I was well acquainted with crept in, “Why aren’t you with anyone? Where did your friends go? Everyone is staring at you.”
Throughout my first day at the new school, the voice grew more unbearable. While everyone sat in groups during PE, I sat down alone on the gym floor, anchored by miserable thoughts. Nervously fumbling through my backpack I reached for my only source of comfort—my phone—but realized I didn’t have it.
I felt thudding footsteps behind me and turned to see a girl stooped over me with a smile.
“Hey, you look lonely,” she said. “Do you want to come to sit with us?” Her words shocked me. I decided it was better than sitting alone, but I felt a different kind of anxiety as I struggled to join their conversation
I met a new friend in class—my first friend I got to sit with during lunch. The next day, she asked me to stay with her after class and I agreed. After a few minutes, the knots in my stomach started forming again. It was an unbearable pain this time. When I looked up, my eyes searched for her when the devastating realization hit me. She left me alone. My mind started swirling with thoughts. I fled to the nearest restroom in a panic. Then I heard the click of a stall door. I froze in front of the sink, washing my hands. I looked over to see a girl I met in the PE group kindly greet me.
I screamed at myself to say something to her. She was getting further away from me. Hesitantly, I tapped her and mumbled, “Can I sit with you for lunch?” I prepared for some kind of judgment, yet no questions were asked.
“Oh, of course!” she replied. The tension in my chest finally disappeared and the knots in my stomach were undone. To my surprise, the friend group was big, and I was overwhelmed but content.
After three years, I have gotten incredibly close to this group. They’ve made me realize many things about friendships and helped me meet more people. Sometimes, the creeping voice visits me with the pulling in my chest, but they always help me relieve the pains.