I hope you don't mind if I dwell on my daughter's first week of school, instead of my own. You see, she just started Grade 9 and I've been thinking a lot about her lately. She selected to attend a school that isn't close to us geographically, so she's taking public transit on her own, and no one from her elementary school goes there. I've been nervous and excited for her as she makes this huge transition, and she has adapted wonderfully. She's chatted with both parents quite comfortably about her first week of high school and she shared a surprising tip that she has for starting conversations with new people and making acquaintances and new friends.
Her backpack is a great tool.
This is what it looks like.
It's the same one she used in "middle school" (Grades 7-8) but she's added new buttons to it each year. Instead of appropriating her voice, speaking on her behalf, let me turn the keyboard over to her to explain why her backpack has helped her break the ice:
I find that my backpack has helped me make a lot of friends this past week because it kind of 'speaks for me', if that makes any sense. I can be a bit introverted most of the time and am a little shy when it comes to meeting new people. But, thanks to my backpack, when people see me wearing it as I walk by, they kind of get a sense of who I am and what I'm into without me actually talking to them. For example, I was at the bus stop the other day and another ninth grader complimented me on all of my Doctor Who pins. I started to talk to her and I found out that she and her siblings were also into this TV show. Because of this, I was able to work up the courage to ask her what else she was a fan of and found out that we had a lot in common. My friends in high school seem to be split into two groups: those who were introduced to me because of another girl who just decided to talk to me at the school's open house, and those who talked to me because they liked my pins. They're a good conversation starter and have really been a good investment. I think that's because, as I said above, they give an impression of me before people get to know me. They say, 'I like a certain anime, or a video game that you might have heard of' and people who are probably just as scared as me on their first days are probably thinking "Hey, she likes the same things as me, maybe I should talk to her." In the nutshell, they've been very useful, not only by making my bag unique and interesting, but by allowing me to meet a lot of other unique and interesting people.