Live Through This

Today, I Am a Freshman

Our staff remember the very first day of their very first year of high school.

Minna's first day, in collage form.

Leeann

I went to a middle school that was notorious for its low test scores and high number of knife fights, so I was grateful to begin my high school career on academic scholarship to the most prestigious private school in my hometown. Sensing that my vaguely militaristic middle school uniform of baggy jeans, Carhartt vests and Timberlands wouldn’t translate well to my fancy new milieu, I begged my mom to buy me the August 1994 issues of Teen and Sassy magazines, and I went about studying their “Back to School” fashion spreads with all the desperate hope of a D student the night before finals. By the first day of school, I had put together an outfit I felt great in: black bodysuit, thigh-grazing red plaid kilt, over-the-knee socks, and chunky black Doc Marten knock-offs that—with their tag that prominently read “Dox”—were cute, if lacking the good taste to hide their aspirations. I walked into freshman orientation feeling confident and unassailably stylish.

As everyone stood around gossiping about their summers, I quickly picked up on the fact that my new classmates were so unlike me and the kids I’d gone to middle school with as to resemble a different species. They were confident and well spoken where I was painfully shy and withdrawn. They joked easily with teachers, whom I regarded with a mix of suspicion and mute terror. Many of them were also incredibly, cartoonishly rich in a way I thought only existed as a plot device on Beverly Hills, 90210. They were not just “fancy car” rich, they were “own a stable of racehorses” rich. When they asked me what I’d done for my summer vacation, my hours of daytime TV and cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner were no match for their families’ jaunts to Prague because the fall of Communism had made the exchange rate so favorable.

Just before morning assembly began, a group of girls came up to me, led by C., a gorgeous girl who apparently spoke for them all. C. told me that “they” all really liked my outfit. The chorus of girls nodded and smiled. Flattered, I smiled and said thank you. C. told me that “they” especially liked my miniskirt and kneesocks (chorus: nod, smile), which they thought were “trendy” and “salacious.” I had no idea what salacious meant, but thought it had something to do with being sexy, so I again smiled and said thanks, dumbfounded that the unprovoked compliments were still flowing. C. then told me that she and the other girls had agreed that I seemed really “aloof,” another word I couldn’t quite decode, but to which I replied, “Wow, thank you so much!” despite my sneaking suspicion that “aloof” meant something slightly more sinister than “cool.” C. said that it was great meeting me and then she and the nodding, smiling girls walked away, while I stood for a moment with an awkward smile frozen on my face and a queasy feeling in my gut.

As soon as the assembly was over, I took my sneaking suspicion to the school library to look up the words C. had used. I learned that salacious and aloof were just fancy SAT words for slutty and bitchy. The joke was on me, my too-short skirt, and the fact that I wasn’t even smart enough to know it. I stared up at the library’s exposed fluorescent lights and blinked tears.

I wish I could say that was the last time I was backhandedly complimented in high school, but it wasn’t. I wish I could say that was the last time I had to fight not to cry in the library, or the bathroom, or an empty classroom or the parking lot, but it wasn’t. I wish I could say I kept on wearing that skirt, because it made me feel confident and cute, but the truth is, I went home and put it deep in a drawer and I didn’t take it out again for years (thus beginning my unfortunate “old-man polyester thrift-store pants” phase). When I finally did unearth the skirt again, on a mom-mandated closet cleanout a few years later, I was surprised to see it looking so innocuous. It was just a skirt, after all. And I stepped into it, even though it’d only gotten shorter in the years since I’d worn it, even though I could still hear the chorus in my head. I wore it and I let myself feel confident and cute again, that first-day-in-a-new-school feeling, chorus free and full of hope.


Jenny

The night before my first day of high school, I stayed up late praying to these worry dolls my best friend Diana and I had bought from this witchy store near her house that, at the time, I thought was the complete zenith of everything OCCULT and MYSTICAL and ESOTERIC (words I learned from reading this one trashy science fiction novel wherein a monkey implants himself inside a female scientist and complains of a “stabbing feeling” whenever the woman gets it on with her man). The lady at the store told me if I shared a worry with each doll before bed and then slept with them under my pillow, by the time I woke up the next morning all of my troubles would be gone.

I abused my dolls on a regular basis, disguising my most urgent requests as “worries,” like, on the night before the first day of ninth grade: “I’m so worried that I won’t be the best-looking girl in school,” and “I’m so worried that every single boy in school won’t fall in love with me and give me a chance to break their hearts one day when I eventually run away with a super-hot punk cowboy singer from Nebraska,” and “I’m really, really worried that Johanna* won’t accidentally disappear and never come back, and I’m even more worried that she won’t suffer physically and emotionally in the worst way imaginable before she disappears for good.”**

My mom had ordered me contact lenses over the summer and the orthodontist took off my braces the week before school started, so on the first day I was still pushing phantom glasses up the bridge of my nose and running my tongue over my newly exposed teeth. I was haunted by the memory of the day I transferred into my new middle school, which was right around the time Clueless came out, and the chatty, popular girls wanted to make me their pet project because I showed up to class dressed (by my mother) in a purple turtleneck under a purple sweater with tight purple stirrup pants, a purple Molly Ringwald hat, purple socks and a purple hooded parka, and everyone was like, Hi Barney. For my first day of high school, I told my mother I wanted to stand on my own two wobbly legs and pick my own outfit, and so there I stood in the cornflower-blue brushed-corduroy bellbottoms I had bought with my allowance money from Contempo Casuals, a polyester shirt from Wet Seal with peace signs and daisies all over it and my father’s Timberland boots that I thought would make me look tough.

In homeroom, a few of the boys told me that even though my face had changed a lot (thank you contacts, thank you braces-free teeth) I was still vice president of the itty-bitty-titty club. Second period I had computer science, and I ended up meeting Kym, this badass with dyed copper hair who had just moved into our town, and we became friends right away. She later encouraged me to throw my math textbook at this boy Leo, who had been tormenting me since seventh grade and helped spread a rumor about me eating cats the year before. Kym and I were best friends all year, but then one day she told me I smelled like rice and that my clothes never matched, and I felt the kind of weird where you know something isn’t right but you don’t have the vocabulary to articulate it. Now she’s a soldier with the military police in Hawaii, and the last time we hung out, Leo’s younger brother tried to put his hand up my skirt and she immediately grabbed him by the collar and told him that she’d killed men in Iraq and didn’t feel at all remorseful, and she wasn’t going to feel remorseful about what she was about to do to him either.

Later that first day, these two boys who had never spoken to me before except to insult me sat down next to me in math class. One of them said to the other, “Dang, Jenny Zhang got hot,” which sent me into a tailspin. Was I supposed to stick to my guns and hate on them for making my life miserable the year before, or was it OK to giggle and fantasize about them one day fighting over me?

If only I had had the ovaries back then to say, Fuck off. But this was my first day of high school and for the first time, two boys not related to me in any way actually thought I was pretty, or at least markedly improved. I was sure I’d only get two or three more chances in my life to flirt with a boy—any boy. So I laughed too long and too loudly at their bad jokes. I pretended to be impressed by their wit even though they possessed none. When I got home from school that afternoon, I put on my mom’s lipstick and made out with my dresser mirror. “I had no idea you liked me this much,” I said as I tongued the cold glass.

By dinnertime, I had wiped all traces of my mouth from the mirror, but the day had left its mark on me—I wanted to be loved more than I knew to love myself. I went to sleep that night wondering if all living things experienced transformation—would I wake up one day with breasts the way some insects wake up with wings? “I’m worried everything I want won’t happen,” I said to my dolls that night, before closing my eyes to the darkness that was already everywhere inside me.

* Johanna—not her real name—was this girl who sat next to me in my eighth-grade computer class and would always steal my pen during tests and toss it across the room and then threaten to punch me in the face if I made a move to retrieve it. But the joke was on her because you didn’t need a pen to complete a test on the computer anyway.

** The weird thing is that Johanna did disappear one day, not too long after I started praying to my worry dolls about her continued existence in my world. The rumor at school was that she had to drop out a year because she got pregnant. When she came back, she left me alone, because I guess after you have a baby “bullying Jenny Zhang” drops pretty low on your list of priorities.


Hazel

A lot of people in my middle school, located in Moorestown, NJ, liked sports and High School Musical, and some kids thought you were a loser if you didn’t shop at Hollister. Although not everyone was like that, I never met anyone there that, in my opinion, was really cool. I had some great friends, but I had a hard time finding people who were in love with the same things I loved: weird art, independent music, and high fashion.

I pompously thought I was the coolest girl in middle school and that when I got to high school all the cool kids would see me for the gem I was and immediately welcome me into their circle. Maybe I would be walking down the hall, a nervous little freshwoman, and stumble upon a teen gang with New Wave haircuts who would sense my awesomeness and invite me to a pseudo-’50s drive-in to watch a gruesome horror-movie marathon. And then we would be best friends forever! Yay!

That didn’t happen.

I spent my first day in high school—a high-ranking New Jersey public school—going to class and hanging out with my middle school friends. What really struck me was how many students there were. For the first time in a long time, I saw teenagers whom I had never seen before, including some who fit my limited idea of what was cool—girls with mermaid hair, a boy in suspenders, a kid in a Sonic Youth T-shirt. But they didn’t talk to me, and that was … not the way it was supposed to be. I passed students in the halls, noting their unique appearances, but they didn’t seem to notice me.

None of these kids asked me to be friends with them, and I felt hopeless. When I got home that day I cried about my doomed social life, which seems really hilarious looking back on it now. I honestly believed my entire high school experience would be exactly like my first day. I thought that because cool people didn’t want to be friends with me it meant I definitely wasn’t cool and therefore would NEVER be cool and thus my life was TOTALLY OVER!

How in the world did I think I would make a hundred new best friends (all very alternative, of course) the first day? Second, why in the world did I assume I was so cool? Who knows—I was 14 years old and crazy. But one thing I didn’t do that I should have done was talk to people. I didn’t talk to any of these cool teenagers! Why? Because I was intimidated by them! I wanted people to be my friend but was too shy to approach them. I thought I was awesome, but my fear of rejection overshadowed that.

Moral of the story: If your first day of high school is the complete opposite of what you want it to be, don’t be surprised. And don’t assume that every day of your high school experience will follow suit! I might not have met the kooky characters I dreamed up in my brain (my middle school imagination was weird, right?), but I met cool people later that year who didn’t necessarily look super-interesting at first glance. I judged way too many people by their appearance. Not to mention that people change in high school, especially after freshman year, so your peers in middle school can transform into totally new people by senior year.

Do the exact opposite of what I did: approach people, talk to everyone you’ve never talked to before. Teachers! Students! The creepy janitor! And maybe your first day of high school will be absolutely dreamy and perfect. But if that’s true then get outta there, because that place is in the Twilight Zone or something.


Emma

A couple of days before I started the ninth grade, a friend from summer camp introduced me to a girl he knew, C., who was also going to my new school for the first time. We met on a stoop on her block, where she was surrounded by a posse of handsome boys, boys with hair long enough to tuck behind their ears and baseball hats pulled low over their eyes. C. was the granddaughter of a Really Famous Person, and the daughter of a Famous Person, though I was so ignorant of the Really Famous Person’s musical oeuvre at the time that it hardly mattered. In retrospect, this might have been my selling point: I had no reason to gawk. We gave our names, waved hello, and then C. asked me if I was “cool.” I stammered out a response, not realizing that she was asking if I smoked weed. It was a line from the movie Dazed and Confused, which had come out the year before, and which I had seen but not memorized. But I knew enough about the laws of coolness to understand that the correct answer was yes, and so I lied. We smoked weed that weekend, my first time, and wore matching bicycle helmets to the neighborhood Taco Bell, giggling continuously in the way that only teenage girls can.

When the first day of school came, I wore a string tied around my neck as a homemade choker, a tight, baby-blue T-shirt that said “Foxy Lady” across my chest and a pair of carpenter’s jeans. I took the subway down to C.’s stop, and then got out and waited for her on the sidewalk, which meant that I had to pay twice. I didn’t mind. The idea of walking into the building by myself was too frightening. We clutched each other on the train, circumstantially joined at the hip. I was taller by half a foot, and C. clung to my arm as we exited the train. She chain-smoked cigarettes; I wouldn’t start for another two weeks.

Once we were inside the school, C. was fearless. A pro at starting at new schools and making new friends, she knew everyone by the end of the day, introducing me around as though I were her oldest friend, because, as far as high school was concerned, I was. C. spoke to everyone, even junior and senior girls, the beautiful ones whom I fully expected to treat me like Joey Lauren Adams treated the freshmen in Dazed and Confused—I would not have blanched if someone told me to hit the ground and fry like bacon. I would have fried. Having C. next to me meant that I didn’t have to be afraid, that I had a human buoy in the vast, dark sea. We didn’t stay best friends for long, just long enough to make sure that we could both swim on our own.

Recently, I saw C. for the first time in over ten years, and she turned to my husband and said, “She went to my first day of high school with me. This girl is gold.” We squeezed each other’s shoulders and arms and cheeks until we parted, the hearts of the nervous girls we’d once been still beating warmly inside our chests.


Pixie

I woke up on my first day of high school with a brutal stomachache. “It’s probably just jitters,” my mother said. I should note that this was a completely reasonable supposition on her part; when your daughter spends the month leading up to her freshman year of high school asking questions like “What if I trip in the hallway and accidentally eat a staple?” it is perfectly natural to think that her stomachache might be due to nerves.

So I headed to school dressed in my 1995 best: a black, rose-patterned slip dress layered over a white baby tee and topped with a cropped denim vest. I looked pretty good, if you ignored the slightly green tinge to my skin, the dazed look in my eyes and the fever sweat dripping from my hair—which no one, apparently, was able to do. While my friends were asked, “How was your summer?” and “What classes are you taking?” I got “Um, are you OK?” and “Are you going to throw up?”

“I’m fine,” I said, though by the time sixth-period study hall rolled around, I knew that I wasn’t. I was definitely going to throw up. On my first day of high school. In front of everyone. If I didn’t haul ass to the ladies’, I’d be “that girl who puked in study hall” for the next four years.

“Ineeapass,” I slurred to the study hall teacher, who gave me an annoyed glare and told me that only one student could use the pass at a time. “Gonthrowup,” I blurted, taking off toward the door. I didn’t care about the pass. I didn’t care about my study hall teacher’s shouting after me. I didn’t even care about falling down and accidentally ingesting a staple. I didn’t care about anything except getting to the bathroom before I puked.

I made it to about two inches outside of the bathroom door before the sad remnants of an ill-advised Taco Tuesday lunch went flying all over the hallway. The scene played out in front of an open classroom door, and all of the students inside responded with a collective “awww.” It was a sympathy noise, which I remember being surprised and sort of touched by. I’d expected an “ewww,” and received an “awww” instead. Awww! She was so close! She almost made it! Poor kid! On the first day!

I spent the next week or so in bed recovering from a nasty flu, but I remember feeling extremely relieved, and thinking that high school was going to be all right. I’d puked in front of my peers, and I’d survived. People were even nice about it, kind of! And I don’t think anyone saw my face, or knew my name, which was a plus. I should also mention that I ended up having a fever of 104, so I was probably delusional for most of this adventure. For all I know, someone from that classroom yelled out, “Gross! You’re the worst, Casey! Never show your puke-stained face around here again!” But whatever, I prefer to remember it this way. ♦

55 Comments

  • Minna September 5th, 2011 6:59 AM

    Testing Testing 1 2 3 Rookie looks damn fiiiiine xox

  • Sonia September 5th, 2011 7:32 AM

    I really really loved reading these. My first day of secondary school (cause y’know, we don’t have high school in britain) was suprisingly painless, although I do remember an incident involving shaking a fizzy drink a bit too much, and it exploding over some much-cooler-and-really-popular girls. They became my best friends, for that year anyway.
    Rookie seems lovely so far! xx

  • Emma Straub » I’m a Rookie!

  • Fluorescent_Adolescent September 5th, 2011 8:17 AM

    I’m wrapped, It’s my birthday today and this is one of the exciting things that has happened to me today. I’m in love with your online magazine and this article is brilliant and i relate to Hazel entirely and yes I’m 14 today!

  • Harriet September 5th, 2011 9:11 AM

    I really liked this :) I never really had the horrific first day of high school thing because I, being English, started secondary school at 11 (basically still a child). However it does mean all the awkward finding myself/growing up palava was done in front of people who I have been seeing on a daily basis for over 6 years now. Excellent. It’s quite nice in a way, we all remember that super popular girl when she used to be chubby and the time that boys mum ran after the bus because he forgot his lunch. Although I must say I envy the opportunity for a fresh start that high school poses.
    That was a bit of a ramble and I’m not really sure what I was getting at…
    It was really funny and I love you all for sharing those stories :)
    Oh and Happy Birthday Fluorescent Adolescent!
    xxxxxx

  • Jamie September 5th, 2011 9:21 AM

    Check 1, 2. Is this thing on?

  • happyjoy23 September 5th, 2011 9:28 AM

    this really made me smile! even though im in junior high i still can totally relate to this!!

  • Laia September 5th, 2011 9:52 AM

    I wasn’t expecting to tear up reading this but the ending of Emma’s story really got to me? Love.

  • Gabby September 5th, 2011 10:19 AM

    My first class on my first day of high school was GYM CLASS (gross) and my bus arrived late, so I had to walk across the entire empty gym floor to where my teacher was, by myself, with my new shoes squeaking, while about five different gym classes sitting on the bleachers stared at me. It was like a recurring nightmare you hope never happens in real life!

  • Demmy September 5th, 2011 10:40 AM

    I love this post!

  • Palmetto September 5th, 2011 10:58 AM

    I loved hearing everyone’s stories! It’s cool to hear every “type’s” perspective on their first day. My first day wasn’t so great- I had transferred to a new tiny school in the sticks where I didn’t know anyone. Everyone knew each other, so cliques were very prevalent and a new kid like me had absolutely NO chance at making friends. I believe the day ended with me crying and pleading to transfer to the local public school? I had to last the whole year at the charter and hated every day of it. Thank God I left after freshman year!

  • natasha September 5th, 2011 11:09 AM

    I started secondary school (no high schools in germany!) at age 10. I walked in the classroom thinking to myself “I’m going to be so popular and make lots of friends” and I got be very popular and made lots of friends. I moved cities at age 12 and all my classmates treated me like the strange psychokid weirdo till the day I moved cities again at age 15 where I was popular again and found a lot of friends. I have no idea what went wrong in my second school, but I recommed if you find yourself to be the class weirdo that everyone thinks is crazy, change schools if you can, different people treat you differently, and if one school treats you bad chances are that another school will treat you well! :)

  • Mustachefan September 5th, 2011 11:10 AM

    On my first day of high school I sat alone in barnes and nobles for lunch…

  • Jodie September 5th, 2011 11:21 AM

    I love this. <3

  • Anna September 5th, 2011 11:26 AM

    It was so great reading these! It’s been a while since my first day of high school, but I find myself in the unique position of getting to do it all over again. I start work doing classroom support and afterschool programs at a low-performing Detroit high school tomorrow. I’ll be working primarily with 9th graders and helping getting through their first day, week, and year of school is going to be crazy. Very very different from my own experience, but some things seem to be the same across the board.

  • Sophie September 5th, 2011 11:34 AM

    Such a lovely post! Thank you

  • Viviane September 5th, 2011 11:41 AM

    Ah, the woes of the first day of high school. It’s my sophomore year and nothing at all has changed. There’s still no air conditioning, it’s still around 90 degrees, and I still love this school.
    Even though people try desperately hard to be “indie”.

  • erin September 5th, 2011 12:10 PM

    I loved reading this, and I was laughing at some parts. I’m a junior now, and I look back at the new freshmen and I laugh at how I used to be wandering around looking for a lunch table, confused and scared. I related the most to Hazel’s though, it’s like we went to the same middle school… though I didn’t really find myself until well into my first year. Great website!

  • blamethesun September 5th, 2011 12:55 PM

    I have no expectations for my first day this week, but it feels a bit disappointing that my ~*first day of high school*~ is at a school I’ve been attending since elementary. This post definitely fills that small… uh void I guess? I loved reading these stories.

  • Anna F. September 5th, 2011 1:03 PM

    I like to think that C. in the first story and C. in the third story is the same person.

  • Reoka September 5th, 2011 1:36 PM

    oh wow,most of the stories sound really cool!
    my first day of highschool (we only have elementary school and highschool in Germany) was totally boring,so boring that i don’t really remember much anymore.
    i went to a school near my home,but nobody i’ve known from elementary school went with me so i was all on my own without any old friends which was a bit hard.
    i’m neither confident nor shy,so i was just happy i made it through the day.i randomly befriended some girls because i didn’t want to be alone and risk not befriending anyone at all.i got into actual friendships when i felt more confident in the new situation,about 2 moths later.
    the thing i remember the most is when we got all seperated into our classes (in Germany we only have one class with the same people and we have every subject together,but it gets seperated 2 years before graduation) and i was sitting in the room looking at my new classmates looking for cute boys but they were like 20 girls and only 4 boys which were all sort of inconsiderable.maybe my experience is a bit different to American student’s first days of highschool because i was only 12.i think 12 year-olds are still half-childs and not that bitchy yet.

  • Dani September 5th, 2011 2:10 PM

    It’s funny. My first day of highschool was a few days ago and I felt almost exactly like Hazel did. Aha

  • iWantLovely September 5th, 2011 2:25 PM

    When was the last time I laughed this hard?
    <3 Lovely

  • Whatsername September 5th, 2011 2:31 PM

    My first day of high school is tomorrow and I’m incredibly nervous about it. This really helped me see that the first day really doesn’t determine how the rest of the school year will go; thank you!

  • joenjwang September 5th, 2011 2:45 PM

    Aw, Pixie’s story is so cute.

  • georgia September 5th, 2011 3:47 PM

    Thank god I’m not the only one who didn’t enjoy her first day at secondary.

  • Edith September 5th, 2011 3:48 PM

    I was sent to the office for a deliberate dress code violation on the first day of high school. I was testing the limits (of skirt length.) There I met a girl named Lisa, from the other side of town. She had been sent to the office for wearing bleach-splattered jeans, which she hadn’t known were prohibited by the dress code. Many, many years later, Lisa had a garage sale, where I met a friend of hers from Oregon. Reader, I married him.

  • September 5th, 2011 5:52 PM

    This is a great way to introduce us to the contributors! My favorite story is Jenny’s:)

  • vitrolite September 5th, 2011 6:20 PM

    Leeann’s story is eerily similar to my own transition from an underpriveleged, tough middle school to a prestigious high school. I was also struck by how well spoken everyone at my high school was, even though they rarely said anything of any significance.

  • Mrs_face September 5th, 2011 7:29 PM

    We don’t have the whole middle school/high school thing here in Australia, but I guess a smilar experience I had was starting a new school for grades 11 & 12. I had been mercilessly teased at my previous school for being a ‘total weirdo’ and ‘probably a lesbo’. So I was actually looking forward to starting a new school. Anyway, luckily we have uniforms at high school (I can’t imagine the pressure of having to decide what to wear to school – it would have been FAR, FAR TOO MUCH) so that eased a lot of the worry.

    I totally intended to do what I had done the other times I had moved and started new schools, which was spend the recess and lunch breaks in the library exploring the new books that this school had and seeing if they were better than the ones at my previous school. But instead, a bunch of people came up to me and started talking to me, which I found very weird seeing as I always kept a detatched demeanour about my person to protect myself from what I thought was the inevitable bullying to come. “Oh, I really like your lip piercing,” they said “No one else at the school has one of those.” And “Your boots are really cool, where did you get them?” I nearly died of shock after I scanned these comments for sarcasm, and found none. These people, for some reason unknown to me, thought I was really cool for exactly the same reasons the people at my old school had thought I was lame. Weird!

    So yeah, by the end of the day I had a group of aquaintences and by the end of the week I had a really cool group of weird-drama-kid friends who were just like me, and it was wonderful when I had fully expected it to be gut-wrenchingly-awful.

  • tonksdania September 5th, 2011 8:15 PM

    awww…pixies story was cute

  • meganlscott September 5th, 2011 8:24 PM

    This really made me smile! I like Hazels piece because I wish I’d spoke to people at the beginning of secondary school, and now I’m that *kind of geeky girl who doesn’t talk much and looks like she belongs in the cast of Grease* great advice, I love this website! :) xx

  • glitter and gold September 5th, 2011 11:24 PM

    I just started high school this year after just moving a week before, and reading the first day of school stories made me realize that I’m not the only one out there that felt the way I do!

  • chloelrd September 6th, 2011 1:30 AM

    I LOVE THIS!!

  • Beth September 6th, 2011 4:02 AM

    My first day in secondary school (yeah, I’m a Brit) was a nightmare. I was the shy girl, who came from somewhere no-one knew, and who no-one could be bothered to step out from their groups to say ‘hi’ to.
    This site is super useful – it’s already on my favourites list so I’m totally gonna keep reading. Hearing that others are going through the same sh*t is actually the most reassuring thing, I think. Thanks so much, Rookie! <3

  • Illusen September 6th, 2011 4:51 AM

    I am portuguese and I am starting secondary school (wich here starts in the nineth grade) next week, i am super scared because all my life i have been in a small private school with fourteen people in my class (and there was only one class in each grade) and now i have twenty-six people in my class and eigth more other classes!
    These helped a lot and i am much less nervous.
    I think my first day will be much like Hazel’s.

  • Illusen September 6th, 2011 4:55 AM

    sorry, i meant it starts in tenth grade.

  • AbbyMiaModa September 6th, 2011 7:51 AM

    Loved seeing that I am not the only English girl reading this lovely new beacon of hope to teenage girls. I too do really appreciate the fact that by the time I leave in 9 months (my first day of the fifth year of high school is tomorrow) I will have known everyone in my year for 5 whole fun years. So the end of Emma’s story really got to me, because although my school is tiny with only 870ish kids and I went up at 11 with almost all of my junior school class, I remember making friends with H. and L. on the first day. I kind of forgot about L., although we sometimes spoke in Math class, but H. and I clung together in food technology, the one class I had without anyone from junior school.

    Now that I’m going into Year 11, it’s so weird because L. is one of my best friends, and doesn’t even remember talking to me on the first day, but H. is a girl who, although I will always get on well with, I don’t really have that much to do with. The end of Emma’s story made me pretty emotional because you never know what’s around the corner and H. will always be a bit special!

    Wish me luck with the last year before fashion college (fingers crossed) or A Levels, I’m treating tomorrow like an American High School new start!

    Love and stuffs to Rookie, xoxo ♥

  • electricbixxh September 6th, 2011 1:28 PM

    Le sigh. I wish I was a freshman starting high school. I will live vicariously through this site.

  • Stephanie September 6th, 2011 2:24 PM

    I was honestly so freaked about my first day of high school that I don’t remember it. Possibly because it was completely uneventful. But I loved all of these stories and I cannot say how much I related to Jenny’s! I HAD WORRY DOLLS, TOO!!!!! My mom actually gave them to me because she knew what a worrier I was but I think to a degree they made my insomnia worse because I was obsessing over my worries before I went to sleep.

  • db September 6th, 2011 4:54 PM

    well, reading these was great. i instantly tried to remember my first day of high school. i remember being nervous, yet relieved middle school was over. i, like hazel, thought some weird group of cool kids would befriend me the first day. that didn’t happen. i had to find old friends, which was still nerve racking. i don’t remember much else, except for what i wore: electric blue planet hollywood tee from london, blue-ish/green-ish lipstick from delia*s (a xmas present!), greenish khaki union bay cargo shorts, brown/tan/black striped kneesox, green and black crocodile patterned dr. marten’s. let’s not forget my black jansport with a million bizarro keychains hanging off it and weird quotes written in silver sharpie all over it. ah, 1997. thanks for making me remember that.

  • Laur September 6th, 2011 5:55 PM

    funny :D

  • serena September 6th, 2011 6:21 PM

    I loved this post! The stories were radical. I still use worry dolls!

  • Angie Bitchface September 6th, 2011 7:07 PM

    Hazel’s story reminds me of the first day of college…unfortunately, it’s been 2 years later and I still haven’t met anyone cool at college. everyone who did these posts is wayyyyy more stylish than I ever was in high school, judging by their outfit descriptions!

    my high school ran from 7th to 12th grade, which made the first day either better or worse than a traditional high school, depending on your viewpoint. I was a total nerd and on the first day I probably wore: baggy jeans that didn’t fit, but not in a cool way, which my mom made me wear because she thought tight jeans were inappropriate, a random plain t-shirt from Sears, running sneakers, and my usual un-stylish wire-rimmed glasses. ugh.

    I don’t remember my first day of high school, which must mean it wasn’t that bad. the only thing I really remember about it is that in homeroom we were going around the room telling random facts about ourselves to “get to know each other” and when this one girl was talking I was thinking “that girl looks really cool and elegant, I doubt she would ever want to be friends with me.” years later we became friends and still are to this day! random stuff like that always happened in high school. in 9th grade I was sitting outside the school library in the morning waiting for it to open (yes I was a nerd and came to school early even though I had first period free just so I could read), and I saw this senior sitting outside the library, cursing loudly and throwing a total temper tantrum because the library was late in opening and he needed to do work. I remember thinking “that dude is HILARIOUS, I want to be friends with him!” a few weeks later we met through mutual friends and we actually became friends. during that year we had some sort of silly in-joke about being engaged…now 5 years later we are dating and totally in love.

    I miss high school. it was the best of times, it was the worst of times….

  • Bean September 6th, 2011 8:50 PM

    My first day of high school was like this:
    Look tough and walk around like you already know the place so well it’s boring (which was actually true since my sister went there for three years). I started high school with hair dyed Electric Lizard green (Manic Panic: basically the greatest hairdye ever) just for the occasion and wore something rediculous I’m sure. I can’t entirely remember my outfit but I know that it most likely involved some tough girl boots as most my outfits tend to do. I had an upperclassman friend who I found that day at lunch and he introduced me to the place I’d eat lunch for as long as I could bare it: The front lawn. It used to be where the weirdos and freaks like me ate but them it, like everything golden, got over taken by the people who suck and so we had to move down hill junior year and senior year we had off-campus lunch privledges so we didn’t eat there at all. The moral of my story is, you should always enter school with a tough attitude and remember, it’s mostly all pointless because if you’re one of those people who strongly believe that high school will be the best years of your life, you’re a really sad individual, I’m sorry to say.

  • Sunshine September 7th, 2011 3:21 PM

    “If you can’t change something, change your attitude towards it.” -Maya Angelou

    ^ That woman was a genius. I’m a sophmore and I’ve learned to embrace high school. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s part of life and I’ve made a point of loving my life, EVERY aspect of it, the good and the bad.

    Embrace your freshman year while you still have an excuse to be immature!

  • Claire September 7th, 2011 5:35 PM

    These are great (and not only because my first day of freshmandom pales in comparison)! I showed up to school looking like the epitome of a freshman – freshly bobbed hair pulled back with a pink bow, new ballet flats with white socks (yikes), and a full face of blush, lip gloss, and cover-up (something that has not, to this day, enjoyed a repeat performance). All that was negated, though, when I didn’t see my best friend all day and burst into tears after convincing myself I was hopelessly lost. Oh, the first day of high school…

  • butterface September 7th, 2011 9:16 PM

    On Monday I will officially be a college first year. I literally cannot believe that its been 7 years since that awkward, bespectacled and painfully naive munchkin braved the harsh realities of secondary school. Although it started off worse than even my mother (who was well aware of my social inadequacy) could have anticipated, it surprisingly ended on a high and I met some people at school who literally changed my life forever. Apart from a pretty interesting choice of a black madchester-esque parka over my soul destroying uniform (especially unusual for a 12 year old girl from the rural irish countryside) my first day/year remains a mildly traumatic blur of desperate attempts at social acceptance. Its funny how I used to still physically cringe remembering that year, the misguided hoop earrings, cruel boys, bitchy girls and perpetual embarrassment, but now I can’t help but smile when I think about it now as an adult remembering we were just kids. And school turned out to be fun once I found my niche.

  • Jenny September 7th, 2011 10:21 PM

    It’s so fun to hear other people’s first day of school stories! Thanks for sharing, everyone. Hope everyone who started school this week is having an encouraging time so far <3

  • kalika_ma September 9th, 2011 12:32 PM

    All I remember about my first day as a freshman was that I was naive and terrified which was ironic because I showed up wearing hideous mom jeans, Nikes and a No Fear t-shirt (remember those?! I saw some fool wearing one in Walmart last week and it took me wayyyy back). The next year I was properly jaded, angsty and voted “most likely to bring back neon” in the yearbook. Being a sophmore is where it’s at.

  • RaelissaMGZ September 9th, 2011 11:25 PM

    Being a Freshman or Freshwoman can be totally scary…but live through your first day and the rest is cake :)

  • hanwill September 10th, 2011 7:13 AM

    Unfortunately I have no gruesome tales of my first day of high school (year 8 as I’m Australian) but something slightly different. My first day involved me being shepherded by ‘care group leaders’ and ‘peer mentors’ into the new ‘tree of life chapel’ where we held hands, talked about our emotions and were then cleansed in a traditional smoke ceremony so we could ‘transition’ into high school with a fresh start. The ceremony also involved hugging an actual tree. It was only then, as I was choking on the many clichés that the school was shoving down my throat that I realized my parents had sent me to some insane school where African chants were routinely carried out. I spent the first two years attempting to find other people floating through the corridors that also realized they were being brainwashed by the school to conform to the school’s anti-conforming manifesto before I realized that I experienced something uniquely different most high school student. Never once did I experience any bullying or indeed anything malicious at all. In fact it was a remarkably serene and lovely experience.
    Perhaps all those hippy teachers that I grew to love were on to something after all.

  • Ace September 11th, 2011 2:42 AM

    These were so awesome to read. Especially the one’s from the nineties. All I remember about my first day of high school is looking at the upperclassmen in awe. They seemed so mature.

  • holiday September 14th, 2011 8:29 PM

    I recently braved my first day of high school– excuse me, *secondary school*– last week. I sat alone in every class, and didn’t eat at lunch, and didn’t talk to anyone on the bus. It’s my second week and I still can’t eat breakfast or lunch due to my nerves. As of now, I have a few people I call friends, but I’m pretty much a what most would call a Floater.
    Here’s to hoping all this crap gets better! (:
    Today, a grade eleven boy sat with me on the bus and told gave me the basic rundown of all the good teachers and whatnot. A girl in eleventh grade did the same thing for him when he first started at our school, apparently.
    Signs that it’s all looking up.

    Rookiemag is fabulous, and I can’t wait to meet new people that I can share it with! x

  • TheGreatandPowerfulRandini April 23rd, 2012 6:39 PM

    We have different school system where I live (1th-7th, then 8th-10th, the 11th-13th), and my first day of 8th grade was just a blur. I had a fever, but my parents was abroad at a funeral (yes, seriously). My immune system sucks. I don’t even remember anything of that day except for legos somehow involved in math class.