The first time I read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People” was at the beginning of my second semester of my senior year in high school. Having been bullied in school for the last five years, virtually friendless, and going through what was perhaps the lowest point in my life, I was desperate for answers. My classmates at *Oakley High School had bullied me for so long that I’d withdrawn and closed myself off to people a long time before then. I had forgotten how to connect with people and even how to smile, and none of it was helping the situation any.
Tired of having a next to non-existent social life, I began looking for solutions instead of complaining. I was thirsty for any knowledge that would help.
I walked to the public library and searched the self-help and personal development section and Mr. Carnegie’s book seemed to jump out at me. After reading the title, I snatched the text from the shelf and checked it out. I kept the book hidden, knowing what others would say if they’d found me with it.
In secret, I began reading the book as soon as I returned home, hungrily devouring each page in the privacy of my bedroom. Putting my schoolwork on the back burner, I read the entire book in only three days. I learned so much, things I wasn’t taught before. Or maybe I was taught; only my parents hadn’t quite worded things in a way I could understand.
However, a new problem presented itself. Who would be my social guinea pig? I thought about using Carnegie’s advice on a few family members but was afraid that they too would notice a change too sudden and grow suspicious. They knew too well the quiet and mousy person that I was and that I had pretty much lived inside my own head for the past five years as a means of escape.
The book taught me that people never befriended anyone unless it benefited them somehow. The advice I read in it was to put myself out there and make others feel good about themselves. It had said to show genuine interest in those around me and that people liked those who were interested in them and their lives. I thought, “That’s fair enough. I can do that.”
However, there was yet another problem. I didn’t like nor trust any of my classmates so that was going to be a bit hard to pull off. After the way those creeps had acted for the last five years, no way was I going to even pretend to be interested in any of them. Nope! Besides, I knew they would more than likely be resistant to the change, and things would only get worse.
Luckily, a door opened for me and I transferred to another school the following week. Ah! A new school with new classmates! I had no history at my new high school and my new classmates didn’t know me from a can of paint; this was a juicy opportunity.
I could finally put all of Mr. Carnegie’s advice to practice and the results were amazing! At my new school, I was able to make a difference in the lives of my new schoolmates and my own life as well. Each new classmate was a book I wanted to read and I was able to get a fresh start with a clean slate!
I only attended *Roseburg High School during the last four months of my senior year. In such a short time, I made so many new friends, and they invited me to be a member of the Senior Picnic Committee. Even better, my grades skyrocketed! I went from making C’s, D’s and F,s while attending Oakley High School to making all A’s and one B, therefore making the Honor Roll!
I loved my new school! I had so much fun that time just flew by and before I knew it, graduation day arrived. It was bittersweet. I was happy that I was getting my diploma but I was so sad that it was coming to an end.
Where had all the time gone?
As I walked in the graduation line, took my diploma, and shook the principal’s hand, I forced a smile as a tear ran down my cheek. I would miss my Roseburg friends, teachers, and staff. I would miss Roseburg High School.
I will never forget the time I spent at *RHS and the people who made going to school so much fun!
*Not the real name of the school