Practicing Self Control in New Environments

By Sophie Tsamaidis

When I was in elementary, I went to a small Christian school. It was an “everyone knows everyone” kind of place and it was easy to converse about our faith inside the classroom. At the end of 5th grade, for a number of reasons, my parents decided to move me to Van Hoosen Middle School, a public school.

I was really nervous because it was like going from a fishbowl to the ocean, 25 kids in my grade, to a class of 300+ kids where I knew no one. I felt overwhelmed in this new environment because it was unfamiliar. I not only had to deal with the transition to middle school but also deal with cliques while staying true to myself. I had to take a leap of faith and trust that the Holy Spirit would guide me and I had to trust in God that everything would be okay; that Jesus would be with me through this major transition.

In the first few days of school my mom would tell me to actively look for Jesus in people, find the person who smiles at you and takes genuine interest in you, and to not be paranoid if someone frowns or doesn’t talk to you. I looked for Jesus and eventually I found him in a gym locker room. A conversation led us to being gym buddies and then I received a lunch invitation and eventually I joined the robotics team with her. Through these opportunities, I made some great friends and I am still friends with them today.

The next year, I was chosen by my peers to be the CEO of the mentor program at my school, which is a group of upperclassmen who help the incoming 6th graders transition into middle school. I was the lonely, friendless kid who had no one to turn to at school, and therefore I wanted to help others who were going through what I went through. It took a lot of self control for me to trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit to bring new friends and opportunities into my life and not let myself be distracted by my anxiety or the temptation to fit in and force relationships.

Faith is a journey and while it was never easy, Jesus was with me every step of the way. Because of this realization, I can honestly say now that going to Van Hoosen Middle School was one of the best decisions my parents ever made for me.