Stand Alone

As if Middle School isn’t Awkward Enough

At eleven years old you’re faced with enough change in your life, the last thing you want is more. However, in addition to the internal challenges, I faced an ominous set of external challenges as I embarked into middle school.

D.C. Virgo was a revamped inner city school and despite the fact that there were three other schools closer in proximity, I was bussed nearly eight miles away based on a Board of Education’s decision to redistrict.

Because of this decision, I would go to a brand new school where I knew only one other student. While all of my other friends would continue their friendships, I was forced to find new ones. I remember thinking:

Why do I have to go to school there?  

It’s in the middle of downtown; I have never been downtown. What is it like down there? 

How am I going to fit in and make new friends?

DC Virgo in downtown Wilmington, NC

DC Virgo in downtown Wilmington, NC

On the first day of school, I’m anxiously waiting in the lunch line, surrounded by other students, yet completely alone. I’m trying desperately to fit in. I give a look at my outfit wondering if I should have gone with the red shirt over the blue. In short, I’m wondering what everyone else was thinking about me.

Did they like me?

Would I ever fit in here?

I saw the Assistant Principal, Robin Meiers, out of the corner of my eye. I only knew it was her because she spoke on stage at the orientation the week before. Then, I heard her say words I wouldn’t have fabricated in my wildest dreams.

“I’m looking for Matt Ham!”

What!? What in the world had I done? I’m Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes over here, I’ve never been called out by the principal.

“Where’s Matt Ham?” She repeated again, her strong voice didn’t fit her small frame. It rang out down the narrow hallway and I knew there was no escape in sight.

I was terrified. I sheepishly raised my hand and barely uttered, “I’m Matt Ham?” I wanted to put a question mark on the end of that sentence actually asking myself if I really was myself.

Mrs. Meiers walked over to me and said, “Come with me.”

My heart was in my throat and I was on the verge of a tear. As we stepped aside, she squatted down to look me in the eye.

“Someone told me to come introduce myself to you.”

I wish I could have been in her shoes to see the look on my face. I was baffled. What kind of school is this?!

I’m not really sure what I mumbled back.

With a huge smile and confident stride, she walked me to the front of the line and said, “If you need anything, you let me know.”

Standing Alone

Sometimes it seems you are alone as you walk your path. Hindsight has shown me that I wasn’t alone. Neither are you.

The other day, as I reflected in my journal, I wrote “Middle school taught me to stand alone.”

It was an amazing moment of clarity. It wasn’t until now that I realized the fullness of what my own story was telling me. I needed to be separated from comfortable in order to realize what I was really made of. The experience allowed me to learn who I was becoming and make decisions on the paths I wanted to walk.

Standing alone helps you confirm your foundation or causes you to re-pour it.

Clarity has shown me this wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have the courage to walk that path alone. In a way, those years were my defining years.

As you walk alone, know that walk will define you. In one way or another, it will define you.

It’s all about the encouragement you seek.

As it turns out, Mrs. Meiers knew about my situation from a former Elementary School teacher. Her encouragement was a gift. She singled me out and let me know that she was there, cheering for me. I chose to let it empower me.

Regardless of where you are, someone is cheering for you.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

Someone is on your side.


Question: Have you ever stood alone? 

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5 Responses to Stand Alone

  1. Robin August 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Matt, I am honored by this post and a very special memory. Ellen Nay from your elementary school shared that you were the only one from Winter Park coming to Virgo.

    I remember meeting you like it was yesterday, and I enjoyed watching you and Mark grow up. Your parents were such role models–if only every child had such a family.

    I am so proud of the man you have become, and I truly appreciate your kind words.

    • Matt Ham August 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

      Hey Mrs. Meiers! I’m so glad you got to read the post and I’m SO grateful for that small action many years ago! All the best to you and your family!


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