Before today, I thought a random Indian man doing a WWE-style commentary of me as I wiped down cutlery sets was the most awkward situation I would ever have to be in. But oh, is life full of surprises.
Somewhere towards the end of 2018 as we were ideating for the new adventures of 2019, Press decided to perform an exciting experiment: join Eunite as an undercover J1, and document our experience. Pitching our idea to the various teachers in charge was the easy part; we were given the green light almost immediately. Finding an OG to tag along with was easy as well, as our friends who were OGLs seemed intrigued by our idea and were very willing to accomodate us. All we had to do now was to wait until the first day of school to commence Operation: Fake Freshies Alert.
Going into this, we all knew it would be awkward. But it wasn’t like we tried to be less awkward either. Together, press decided that we were just going to wear the EJ PE shirt with our respective berms/skirt, which we only realised on the day itself that a) it was not a good look, and b) made us seem like we were retainees (or as the OG I was with had graciously corrected me, non-PW taking J1s). Looking back now, being fluorescent yellow highlighters amongst the sea of SN, SC, and CHS uniforms was just pointedly making ourselves stand out, as if we don’t already.
So the day starts off. I take my place in an OG, half listening to the things happening on stage, half lost in my own thoughts, mentally willing people to talk to me so I could establish my backstory as a fellow ‘J1’. Two hours passed and no luck. However, one thing was clear in my mind. I had a mission – to write this article – and to accomplish it, I couldn’t just sit there in silence, waiting for someone else to initiate a conversation, even though I was already somehow dying with embarrassment.
Afterwards, each OG started to break off for icebreakers. Everyone started to introduce their names, and things started to progress, slowly but surely. I must admit, it took me a couple of wary glances and a while of analysing, before I finally mustered up enough courage and find the right opportunity to talk to someone. Because, despite being my second “first day” in EJ, despite being the J2 in the situation, despite being almost eighteen, taking initiative to make a new friend is still terrifyingly daunting. To my relief, it was visible that others felt the same too. It was still a group of SN girls, a group of SC girls, and a group of CHS boys. No one mingled with someone from another school. Then again, it was only the first day. I guess there’s just something scary about meeting new people, and I think a lot of introverts can agree with me on this. It doesn’t get easier, but rather, I’d like to think that we get braver, we become less afraid of being rejected, less afraid of receiving weird stares and whispers, less afraid of being judged. I’m certainly still working on the getting braver part.
Moving on, I followed the OG around for a bit as they did the scavenger hunt activity. I initiated conversations with some girls in the OG at any suitable moment, starting off with “safe” topics such as CCAs and subjects, occasionally inserting pointless comments like ‘it’s so hot’ or ‘that activity was so weird’ as a desperate attempt at socialising. Things were going relatively smoothly, and I was pleasantly surprised when they too asked me questions to keep the conversation going. It was a nice reassurance that they didn’t think I was some weirdo that they should just ignore.
I also noticed that it was mainly the guys that were actively participating in the activities. The girls tended to shy away, and let the boys take charge. I’m not pointing this out to be discriminatory, it’s just an observation that seemed to fit in with the stereotypes that we have of males and females. Speaking of observations, something that really surprised me was that I did not manage to talk to any SC girls. Being from SC myself, I expected it to be easier for me to talk to an SC girl, but I was proven wrong when I spent my day socialising with a couple of SN girls instead. One even thought that I was from SN, so that was interesting.
Being a fake J1 for a day gave me the chance to see my friends step up as a leader. It was weird, but in the best way possible. I usually just see them in a classroom setting, struggling to survive the neverending workload, taking naps in school during their free time, or feeling drowsy during an afternoon lecture. But today, I got to see them in a completely different manner. They put themselves out there, and became extra enthusiastic and encouraging when their juniors were too shy to say something. I saw the efforts that was put in to make Eunite happen, I saw the creativity in the cheers and the costumes, I saw their initiative to talk to the J1s to make them feel more comfortable. In just one short day, I experienced their care and guidance towards this group of people, essentially strangers to them, and it brought me back to a year ago, on my own first day. It reminded me of how my OGLs were so friendly and caring, and how they helped to shape my Eunite. As cliche as this sounds, it’s amazing to see my classmates be that OGL. Being the third party, I saw my friends grow and mature, and I am so proud of them even if I only met them last year. The J1 batch are in good hands and they will surely settle in well with the help of their OGLs.
I wouldn’t call Operation: Fake Freshies Alert a success, because frankly, it was a complete mess. I don’t think I was a very convincing J1, considering that the actual J1s just assumed that I was a non-PW taking J1. And yes, today ended up being more awkward than having someone do a WWE-style commentary of me, but the unexpected observations I had today was worth every single excruciatingly awkward moment. I went into this thinking that I would only be writing about my experience with the J1s, and I’m so glad it didn’t just end like that.
Lastly, it would be my honor to present you this to sum up the awkwardness:
Huge thank you to OG 1, Ethan, Jovin and Alyssa. Go Tairas!