AN Essay Contest HOSTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
DOTDASH MEREDITH & REAL SIMPLE
14 Girls Write Now mentees share mini- and mega-moments of clarity in these personal essays.
The First Step Towards Making A Friend
By Denise Domena
This story shows the start of a new friendship and the realization that you don’t have to wait for one to find you.
Even though the sun was shining brightly, the sky bridges that link the campus buildings were casting shadows, providing a pleasant shade for the sea of students sporting face masks who waiting in line to be let into the building. I had no clue where I was going—let alone what academic path I truly wanted to take—so you could say I was a bit overwhelmed on my first day of college. Fumbling through the crowded halls, I managed to locate my first class of the day: Exploration in the Arts.
As I made my way to the classroom, I spotted a girl waiting outside the room. Her fingers were tapping rapidly on her phone. “She must be nervous too,” I thought. As I drew closer and we made eye contact, I mustered an awkward smile underneath my mask, hoping that it would come across as a warm greeting and not some weird interrogating squint. As I did this, it occurred to me that I have never initiated a friendship.
Ever since I was a child, I have always been terrified of making the wrong first impression. I have never been the first to confidently walk over to someone and begin speaking. However, when I saw the girl standing outside of the classroom appearing as nervous as I was, I realized that I didn’t want to be that person anymore.
In school I was always known as the quiet girl who sat in the cafeteria reading a book for fun or the one who silently observed in class and had all the answers. Now, as I watched the girl sway back and forth and smile back under her mask, I developed a feeling that perhaps she was known in the same way. That part of her wanted to start a conversation while we waited but wasn’t sure how. Now that I was a first-year in college, I figured it was time to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.
“Hey, are you in this class too?” I motioned towards the closed door.
“Yeah, but I don’t think the professor is here yet,” she said as she widened her eyes and shook her head.
Though the answer was obvious, asking the question made for a great segue into asking each other about our schedules to determine if we shared any other classes. While we continued to wait outside of the classroom, we kept asking more questions about one another. It turns out that we had a couple of classes together and shared similar interests: writing and reading. Suddenly, the dreadful load that I felt in my chest was replaced with a euphoric lightness. What may have solidified our growing friendship was when we realized that we were actually standing outside an office and not a classroom. We couldn’t help but laugh at this common first-day mistake as we scurried around the building trying to locate the right room.
What started off as a simple question turned into a quest to locate our class, and ultimately, the start of a new friendship. Given my hesitation towards meeting new people in the past, I could not believe this moment of self-improvement. Moving forward, I hope to continue initiating conversations and not permitting my fears and doubts to get in the way of making new friends.
Inspired by my first day at college, I wrote about an encounter I made with someone I’m lucky enough to still call my friend. I didn’t realize just how important the encounter was for me until I sat down to write about it. Through writing this piece, I learned that I enjoyed crafting stories around inner thoughts since they can help turn small moments into ones with greater meaning.
My Simple Realization: An Essay Contest & Story Collection
14 Girls Write Now mentees share mini- and mega-moments of clarity in these personal essays. This contest was produced in partnership with Dotdash Meredith and the team at Real Simple as part of the SeeHer Initiative.
Denise Domena is a native of Brooklyn, New York. She is college freshman who plans to major in English Literature and concentrate in creative writing. In her free time, she embroiders, plays ukulele and piano and bakes cookies. Denise hopes to one day publish young adult fiction novels and perhaps a collection of poetry.