What It Feels Like to Be the New Kid

As told by Tyler Steele.


Photo by Kyle Heywood

I cried every single night.

I, a 16 year old teenage boy, cried every single night.

I missed my girlfriend. I missed my friends and I knew they were having fun without me. I cried because I didn’t know anyone. I was lost.

I was the new kid. I was new to everything: this town, these people, everything. I wasn’t popular or even cool at my old school. It was a new start to my life and I didn’t want it to happen. I was moving 433 miles away and couldn’t do anything about it.


I remember that one night, at the dinner table, where I was broken down to the most vulnerable state in front of my parents than ever before. No, not just my parents, everyone. The tears started filling my red, stinging eyes. The frustration and the despair were hiding inside my head behind my jaw-dropped face full of shock. They told me we were moving.

My dad had to find a new job. After two months, he luckily found one. But as good as news like that always is, it was accompanied by the bad news. We had to move to Illinois.

“What the hell is in Illinois?” I thought. I searched online about this little town of Antioch and it looked so boring and crappy compared to my old town. What did my dad get us in to?

It took about seven hours to get to Antioch. I honestly didn’t know what to expect or who I’d meet. Each minute, worry continued to fill my body as we neared my new home. I worried because I didn’t know anyone. It would suck to have no friends in high school. There was one thing I knew for sure: I did not want to spend the rest of my time in high school waiting for college.


I arrive in my neighborhood, moving trucks all around, and that’s when it got real. I have a new home and I have no friends. I casually looked to my right and left looking at houses surrounding me hoping there would be some, no not “some,” just one person who would make the difference. I needed one person to welcome me to Antioch.

My dad had told me later that day that the neighbors, who he apparently was talking to earlier in the day, have a son my age.

I walked up to their door, nervous as ever, to introduce myself. With my palms sweaty and my voice shaky, I told my neighbor if he ever wanted to hang out all he needed to do was to knock on my door.

I am still waiting for that knock.

What did I do wrong? Is everyone going to treat me like this? That one knock I was hoping for killed everything. I laid on my bed, with the familiar tears dripping down my face into my clenched fists. I couldn’t do this. Sure, I wasn’t popular and didn’t have that many friends back in Ohio, but I knew I wasn’t a loser. At this point, crying was all I had.

I cried every night. When I wasn’t crying, I was talking to my old friends. Then after?  I cried. I cried so much there was nothing left. I dried my eyes out leaving them swollen and red for days.

Then came orientation day.

It wasn’t a knock, it was a handshake and a “hey.” Someone finally welcomed me to this new town I had to call home. I met a few new people there and that gave me a boost of confidence awaiting my first day of school.


After a sleepless night, I still couldn’t believe I wouldn’t see my best friends walking through the halls. My stomach was turning and I didn’t want to go. I only knew a handful of people and they weren’t even in all of my classes. I was dreading meeting new people and just wanted to get through the day without getting made fun of.

I didn’t get made fun of or teased. It was quite the opposite.

I was the center of attention and I loved it. The girls were drooling all over me. They were following me everywhere and it was different. Nobody ever paid that much attention to me before. I took advantage of it. I took too much advantage of it.

I was being noticed for the first time in my life. People were coming up to me instead of me approaching them. And day by day, it added up. It added up to the change in me that I became oblivious to. I was carrying myself in a new way. It was a cocky, “I’m better than you,” way. All it took was one reflection, in one mirror, to see what I had become.

The center of attention went to my head. Within a week, I went from being loved by everyone to being a cocky, SOB being pointed at and being avoided. I really didn’t know what to do. I wanted to punch that mirror into pieces, just like my confidence had become.

The dripping of wet, salty tears continued to tap at my wrists. This was supposed to be my new start and I already screwed up.

I slowly picked up the pieces and tried to glue them together. And before I knew it, I was me again. I was becoming a real person again.

During the first week of school, the reality never caught up to me. Then, I looked around and just started comparing everything around me to back home.

When it comes down to it, being the new kid is good, but more of a bad thing. People noticed me. It was a good thing.

“Look, he’s so hot.”

“Look, he’s so smart.”

“Look, he’s so funny.”

But when they paid too much attention it affected me for the worse. Messing up a few times made people hate me.

I told myself something that I started to live my life by that second week of school. I didn’t just want to get through it, I wanted to have fun doing it.