Adjusting to a new school has always been really difficult for me. When my mom picked me up after my first day of seventh grade, I remember crying as soon as I got into the car. Eleven years later and not much has changed, except this time I was alone. It’s funny how the same things I worried about on my first day of kindergarten are still the same things I worried about on my first day of dental school: “Who am I going to sit next to in class?” “Who am I going to eat lunch with?” “Am I making a good first impression?” “WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!?!”
Here are a couple things that helped me on my first day of dental school.
- Meet them halfway. I’m not good at small talk, I’m not an out-going person, and my introversion is often misinterpreted as standoffishness. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being shy, but it does mean that I have to try extra hard to keep the conversation going. I can’t expect the person I’m meeting to immediately understand my personality just like I don’t understand theirs. This effort may be awkward, but meeting them halfway will absolutely payoff in the long run.
- Stay open-minded. It’s easy to gravitate towards people who come from the same religious, cultural, or ethnic background, but this limits exposure to new experiences and personalities. I try to talk to everyone because I know exactly what it feels like to think that no one wants to talk to me because of my background.
- Give second chances. I’d like to think that I’m a good judge of character but I’ve definitely been wrong before. Everyone is in this together and starting a new chapter in their lives. First impressions are difficult – for some more than others. I would want other people to extend me the same courtesy.