But now she’s the new kid. She’s the one who sits alone at lunch. She’s the one having trouble making new friends.
This isn’t something Celia’s used to, but she’s been that new kid for over a year now.
“What do you think about moving?”
Shock. Shock and disappointment were the two things that immediately entered Celia’s mind. She was ready for a fun day at the beach with her friends, then everything changed. Her mom pulled up with her two sisters, Olivia and Emilia. What Celia thought was just her mom dropping off clothes for the beach, turned into something that changed her life.
Although her and her sister Emilia had moved various places before, she wasn’t ready for this move. Hawaii was her home.
They knew moving was a possibility. Their mom wanted for the girls’ to have better educational opportunities, and she wanted more experience for her job as a nurse, something she could only get on the mainland. The girls had been told the move might be to California, which got them excited. But they weren’t expecting this. They weren’t expecting Kansas.
Emilia’s reaction was nearly the opposite of her sister’s. She started crying, but not because she was sad. Hers were tears of joy. Emilia was ready to leave Hawaii. The island was so small, she felt like she knew everyone.
“If you say something about someone, they always find out,” Emilia said. “It seems like everyone’s related, and it’s just annoying that it’s so small. The idea of going somewhere else was exciting.”
The two sisters’ reactions predicted their ability to adjust to the move. While Emilia has had an easy time making friends and adjusting to everyday life in Kansas, Celia has struggled. In addition to cultural, economic and geographical differences, the social differences between her old school and East have been the biggest challenge for her. While Celia likes the classes here compared to Hawaii, making friends has been tough on her.
“It’s pretty hard for me here,” Celia said. “I don’t really fit in at this school.”
Celia’s not used to being the new kid. She’s not used to not having plans over the weekend. She’s not used to sitting alone at lunch.
“I’m used to having a bunch of friends, and here I have like three good friends,” Celia said. “I’m not asking for this whole group [of friends], but I’m not used to being sad all the time.”
Celia’s having trouble adjusting socially, but she doesn’t want pity.
“I don’t want people to pity me just because I’m sitting by myself,” Celia said. “When I’m sitting alone, I always think: it’s going to get better.”
Writing letters to friends back in Hawaii is one way Celia is learning to cope with missing her friends. She updates her friends on her new life and they keep her updated on the one she left behind. Coming home to one of these letters is something she considers the best feeling in the world. After she reads it she hangs it up on her mirror next to other letters.
On the other hand, Emilia is having a much easier time adjusting to life in Kansas. Although Emilia misses things like the beach, her friends and the food, she has gotten used to Kansas as a whole.
Emilia has acquired a friend group, gotten used to the food and weather and even found a boyfriend. Part of the reason this has happened is because she got to go to Indian Hills Middle School for a few months right when they moved, and she got to meet people there.
“[Making friends] is really good for me,” Emilia said. “I already made friends when I went to middle school, so it’s been really good for me.”
Although the sisters are having very different experiences with the move, they can agree on one thing: Hawaii is their home. Not only do they consider it their home because they grew up there, but they consider it their home because they both miss it so much. They also agree that they want to visit. But moving back would be too hard for the both of them. They don’t want to have to deal with saying goodbye again, it would be too hard.
One day a few months ago, while sitting at lunch with two friends, Celia noticed a kid sitting alone in the cafeteria. Knowing how it feels to sit alone, she went up to him and asked him if he would like to sit with her and her friends. After awkwardly cleaning up the milk he had spilled on himself, he came over and sat with Celia and her friends.
There have been times since the move when Celia needed someone to give her a chance like that. But she’s learning to get by without one. She’s learning to adjust like Emilia has. She’s learning to be that helping hand she once was again.