My confidence has dwindled, but I’m still making friends


Various Photographers

A collage of my friends I have made in the past

When I was little, I was full of confidence.

I could have conversations with strangers and share my thoughts. I didn’t care what others thought of me, and I never let anything get in the way of my beliefs. I was friends with everyone in my class, and I welcomed new people like I had known them my whole life.

At some point, probably around third grade, that sassy little girl’s confidence dimmed.

In third grade, I switched ballet studios. I was nervous and didn’t really want to be there—all of my friends were at my old studio, and everything was going great. That first Tuesday with Grand Rapids Ballet was a day of stress and fear. However, my confidence at this point was just barely scratched.

On that first day, I had already made a new friend—one that would stay with me even now. All I had to do was ask a simple question. Are you new, too? Who knew those four words would lead to a friendship of ups and downs, of excitements and disappointments, of proud moments, and of laughs and tears?

As the years went on, my confidence continued to dwindle. It became harder to stray away from my friends. In fifth grade, I barely spoke the first few days. I stuck by my friend Rachel’s side, and it took me about a week to get up the courage to venture out on my own and make friends.

Eventually, the world becomes afraid of my loud cries and laughs. ”

And as more people came to Grand Rapids Ballet, I was less likely to go up to them and introduce myself. I would follow the lead of my friends, but initiating a conversation was becoming more stressful. What if they want to be left alone? What if they think I’m weird?

Despite this weakening confidence, I have made many friends throughout the years—though it might have taken a few days or a more extroverted friend to start the initial conversations. When I am with these friends, I am as loud as they come. I sometimes get a little too wild and crazy and forget that I am out in public. I joke around; I explain my life to them; I complain probably a bit too much. Everything is good when I am with my friends.

After spending a year in my house, everything has been enhanced. I am more timid around new people, and I am louder with my friends. So, when it came time to travel into Chicago for the first time, I was pretty nervous—even though I had already had conversations with some of my new classmates and been friends with them in past summers.

I was afraid I would take someone’s spot and that they would all judge me. I was afraid no one would talk to me and that I would struggle through tiring rehearsals by myself.

But that wasn’t the case.

I was my usual pretty introverted self, and I said hi to those that I knew. To my surprise, they started talking to me. Even those I had no knowledge of were welcoming me into the studio. It was a little overwhelming, but I was grateful for the warmth.

Now, after one and a half months of traveling into Chicago on the weekends, I have made friends. They have started to learn about my wild side, and they have gotten previews of what is to come when they really know me.

Until I know someone, I am introverted. Until we have a conversation, I am afraid. But after that, the ice starts to melt, and eventually, the water is boiling. Eventually, the world becomes afraid of my loud cries and laughs.

Until I know someone, I am an introvert, but—at least in my eyes—after a few conversations, I won’t stop talking.