Opinion: Embrace Friends Who Are Not Your Own Age

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Jules Nguyen, Freelancer

I’m a junior at Northport High School, but I don’t feel like it. I’ve been straddling what feels like two entirely different worlds. Allow me to elaborate. 

I went to the Long Island School for the Gifted (LISG) during my middle school years; this was the type of school where you needed to take an IQ test in order to be accepted. Due to the advanced curriculum, I was automatically placed in classes I later realized were deemed as a year ahead of my grade. While Northport students were taking Spanish 1 in 8th grade, I was taking it in 7th; while Northport would teach  Global 1 in 9th grade, I was studying the same material in 8th, and so on. 

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve stopped trying to befriend my fellow juniors, and instead, focused on strengthening my bonds with my friends in this year’s graduating class. I’m more content with my friendships this way.”

— Jules Nguyen

LISG’s course set-up helped me get ahead — it helped to boost my intelligence and thinking skills — but I’ve always felt as though it killed my social skills. 

Coming into Northport High School, I was in multiple classes meant for the grade above me. I made friends with my classmates, but they were all from the Class of 2022. I’m able to text and joke around with them, but talking to kids from my own grade feels stilted and is mainly limited to asking for help on homework.

At first, I was okay with this. I thought to myself, “who cares if I’m a year younger than my closest friends?” But, now that I’m a junior and most of my friends are seniors, I am beginning to feel the divide considerably. As I take a look around my classes with seniors, I realize something crucial: after this year, many people I’ve gotten comfortable with will be gone, and I will be left behind to socialize with people to whom I’m wholly unfamiliar.

A lot of people have told me to make friends my own age, but with this I struggle. It’s not just a matter of making friends with juniors, it’s that there is a great divide between us. I never went to their middle school, I didn’t go to their Northport elementary schools, and now, I’m not in all of their classes. Still, I find myself reintroducing myself time and time again, as several of them think I’ve only just moved to Northport. 

Even with the friends I’ve made in the graduating class, I feel this divide: I can’t talk to them about how hard college applications are or who they plan to go to the senior prom with. Like the Class of 2023, I’m only in some of their classes. All in all, I end up feeling like an outcast junior and a fake senior. 

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve stopped trying to befriend my fellow juniors, and instead, focused on strengthening my bonds with my friends in this year’s graduating class. I’m more content with my friendships this way.

I don’t care that I’m not a senior yet, because as far as I’m concerned, my friends have helped me considerably in a number of different ways. From test stress, to late-night breakdowns, they’ve helped me get a grip on friendships that I’ve felt I lacked for the past few years, and for that I am grateful.