Humans of Harker: Arms wide open

Neal Sidhu’s (12) gregarious personality helps him form close bonds with his peers

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Sabrina Zhu

“When I'm doing something nice, randomly, it doesn't seem like a huge thing for me. It's a small thing for me, but it makes a difference and has a positive influence on someone else,” Neal Sidhu (12) said.

Gathered around the single picnic table in the orchard in front of the RPAC, Neal Sidhu (12), dressed in a gray Harker water polo sweatshirt and black pants, cracks a joke that causes his entire group of friends to chuckle. He clutches his stomach and laughs loudly as one of his friends whispers a sarcastic remark back to him. 

Known for his social and outgoing personality, Neal’s most prominent trait is his friendliness. This characteristic was evident when he was younger, and even now, he recalls his wild personality as a child.

“When I was a kid, you could put me next to anyone, and I would play with them for like 30 minutes, and then when my mom came to pick me up, she would be like, ‘Who was that kid you were playing with?’ and I wouldn’t know their name, but I was already really good friends with them,” Neal said. 

Neal’s personality also helps spread kindness and positivity to others.

“When I’m doing something nice, randomly, it doesn’t seem like a huge thing for me. It’s a small thing for me, but it makes a difference and has a positive influence on someone else,” he said.

He carried this gregarious personality with him as he grew older, and now, one of his greatest values is friendship and the bonds he creates with his peers. As a young adult, Neal keeps with him the youthful traits that normally fade away in the teenage years. He uses much of his free time to bring back the activity and play that he enjoyed so much in elementary school. 

“Activity, moving around is just fun. I feel like after childhood, you just lose a lot of that playing and moving around, so I like to keep in touch with that because I always liked it a lot when I was younger, and I still do,” he said. 

Neal takes part in Bhangra, a traditional, high energy, north Indian dance. Bhangra satisfies his desire to move around while also bringing him closer to his Indian roots and culture. 

“I’ve been doing Bhangra since the start of seventh grade … it’s just really fun. I didn’t like it at first because my mom just kinda put me in, but each year I just liked it more than I did previously,” he said.

Outside of his scheduled time, Neal’s favorite thing to do is to spend time with friends; he lets go of the stigma that grades and academics are more important than anything and instead, focuses on the people and world around him. 

“I just never really got too obsessed with grades and thought it was the most important thing. I still tried, but I never let myself get depressed or stressed out and totally freak out over grades. I’m good at just kind of moving on, rolling with the punches. I’m just good at that, keeping myself happy, not stressing out,” Neal said. 

Close friend Ayesha Baweja (12), who has known Neal since the first day of freshman year when they sat next to each other in history class, appreciates his relaxed personality and sees it as one of his defining qualities. 

“Throughout history, I never saw him worry about or stress about anything, which was so weird to me because everyone at Harker … was so stressed and so obsessed [with] grades and academics, and he wasn’t like that at all,” Ayesha said. 

Another close friend, Kenya Aridomi (12), who has known Neal since his first year at Harker in eighth grade, sees many of the same qualities in Neal as Ayesha does. 

“I think that … he’s pretty quiet unless he’s with friends, so he might come out as an introvert but as you get to know him … [he] talk[s] a lot,” Kenya said, laughing.

While being a fun-loving guy is a large part of his personality, Neal knows to separate his fun side from his studies, a development that allowed him to mature greatly.

“I’m just calm most of the time and occasionally have these outbursts where I’m just really energetic and do something crazy … I still have those qualities of being really energetic and talkative and social and loving to have fun, but I know to be mature when the moment calls for it. I know that I have to do my work, I can’t just always be having fun all the time. I have to be able to manage and be able to do both,” Neal said.