Ask Sophia: Making Friends In Older Grades
Q: "The people in the older grades seem so cool and I wish I was friends with them. Why am i always intimidated by older teenagers?" - Anonymous
Answer: When I was in 1st grade I thought that the 5th graders were actually the coolest people on earth… it’s so funny looking back and thinking that 5th graders were the sh*t, I mean they were practically giants. I vividly remember my little first grade self strategically standing near a group of 5th graders and untying and retying my ponytail 3 times because I thought I could woo them with my impressive ponytail tying skills. Throughout the years, the older kids have remained scary. In 7th grade, the seniors at my school ruled the place… they cut lunch lines, ran all the clubs, and were just big and intimidating. Even though I had an older brother 2 years older than me and older family friends, big kids will always seem scary. It’s the hierarchy.
Now that I’m a junior, I guess I’m a big kid… and I’ve slowly found myself befriending some people in the grades above and below me. At the beginning of this year my friends and I were frantically trying to make plans for Halloween. We had adorable costumes and wanted to go to a bunch of parties… the only issue was were weren’t really invited to anything but we knew we would just figure something out last minute. One of my best friends in my friend group texted us Friday midday (Halloweekend Day 1) saying that this cool senior girl that she’s friends with from choir told her we could go to a party that she was hosting that night. My friend group was so hyped… we were going to a senior party! YAYYYY. So later that night we walk into a backyard filled with 30ish senior girls from our high school and then a lot of other random strangers from other schools. We were the only juniors. At first I was actually flipping my sh*t, I saw 3 girls in the same little Batwomen corset as me. It felt like every single scary senior I had pasted by in the halls but never really talked to locked eyes with me all at once. BUT THEN, this one sweet senior from my french class rushed up to us and pulled me into the party to start dancing. It seemed like all the seniors were actually really excited that we were there. Not to get PG 13 on the blog but we had a super fun night and it was weird but super fun interacting with all these non strangers, kind of strangers. Tbh the party didn’t really change much… I’m still really intimidated by the seniors and although I see some at parties now and then, it doesn’t really affect the way we interact at school.
Long story short, I get how you have this desire to be 'in' with the older kids. You want to feel special and cool because they just seem more fun and interesting i guess. There are so many seniors who I feel like would really match my energy but it’s hard when I need/want to be friends with them more than they would with me… that type of friendship just never works out. I have a feeling that college will be different though.
Speaking of which, this past weekend I went on a college tour with my mom and I reached out to some alumni from my high school and random family friends who attended these various schools to meet up with while I was on their campus. Even though I am now the ‘older one’ compared to the 7th graders running around my school, I felt very young compared to the college sophomores and juniors I spoke to last weekend. At first it was scary hanging out with these older college girls, but I quickly realized how age starts to become less and less dividing. I mostly observed quietly and paid close attention to the types of conversations I overheard and what interested/concerned/excited these current students. Other times I spoke up and added a little remark or funny comment. I am sure you all also remember when I wanted to make friends with the older girls at sleep away camp this summer. I thought they wouldn’t like me because I was younger but it ended up working out because I put myself out there.
You’ll start to realize that there’s a million ways to make friends with older kids through JV or Varsity sports at school, student council, clubs, or youth groups. Once you know the people, they’ll start to feel less intimidating. My friends who go to the local high school are dating people in different grades and have some different friends from their sports and student council. At the end of the day, like I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to be the one begging for the other’s approval and attention…. That’s how I sometimes feel around the other girls but not with people in my own grade.
Also like I talk about in practically all my ‘friendship’ posts, it’s hard to get close to people without shared experiences. I really think college will be different because you’ll have your sorority sisters (if you want to join a sorority) and classmates and club member mates. These groups will be comprised of all the grades and everyone will be bonded by a shared spirit and love of community.
I know that was just a jumble of anecdotes and weird advice but the main point is that you’re desire to get in on the fun of the grades above you is super normal and I’m with you there. It may be a farfetched aspiration to be like in the core friend group, get invited to all the birthdays and parties, sit with these people at lunch BUT I’m sure you’ll have little opportunities to get food after an event or go to a few parties with the older kids as you get older. Hold on to those little moments and know that the best is yet to come. Also be kind and welcoming to the people you like in the grade below you. I love my sophomore friends… they are genuinely so cool and the best listeners haha.
We got this,