It’s hard to find friends to hang out with when you start a new school.
Our elders help a letter writer who feels like a lunchtime loser.
So I’ve recently just moved from secondary school to college, where I’ll be completing the last two years of school before university, and I’m really struggling with making friends. I’m a quite confident and easy to talk to person, and I’ve found making friends in classes fine. It’s just when it comes to lunchtimes etc I have NOBODY to hang out with. Although everyone is new at this school, most people have their friends from their past school already attending with them and all have solid friendship groups. I’ve tried going up to various groups of people and asked to sit with them, but the conversation has always seemed so awkward and they’ve never been very interested in getting to know me. I’ve resorted to just leaving the school grounds for lunchtime, as we’re allowed to, and just sitting in the nearby cafe by myself. It’s really lonely but I have no other option unless I want to sit alone in the school cafeteria. I’m not yet friendly enough with the people in my classes to ask to eat lunch with them and I know that they probably don’t want me to anyway. I just can’t help but feel as if I’m going to have to spend the next two years by myself. I don’t feel comfortable asking people if I can eat lunch with them as I feel like a burden and most people agree out of politeness. I honestly feel so hopeless and wake up dreading to go to school. One of the main reasons I was excited to move was to start over and be able to form new friendships. I didn’t expect for it to be like this. Just in need of some advice/encouragement.
I empathize with you. I understand how difficult it can be to make friends at a new school. We’ve all experienced the struggle of attending a new school. However, remember you’re not the only one looking for new friends. Even though there are friend groups and cliques that have already formed, there’ll be others just like you who are looking for new friends. Do not despair and do not put too much pressure on yourself. I think that you’ll have an easier time making friends by carrying that confidence that you have in the classroom with you through all your interactions, staying approachable, and getting involved in the activities of your new school.
Here are some tips and strategies to aid you in making new friends and integrating into your new environment:
- Maintain and build that confidence you have in the classroom. Challenge the negative voice inside your head and acknowledge that you may be being too hard on yourself. Realize that other people are just as concerned about themselves as you are. They probably aren’t thinking about you and judging you as much as you think, because they are preoccupied with themselves.
- Change your mindset. Instead of worrying about not finding friends, picture yourself succeeding and meeting new people. Recognize all the small successes along the way, such as talking to someone new and enjoying the conversation.
- Overcome your fear of rejection. I think one of the biggest obstacles to reaching out and making new friends is the fear that we will not be accepted. Try not to take it personally if someone does not accept your invitation. You will not want to be friends with everyone you meet either. Risk stepping out and being social and you will eventually find someone who is the right friend for you.
Understand that the rejection may have more to do with who the other person than it has to do with you.
- Be yourself. Never change who you are to try to fit in. If people don’t accept you for you, they’re not really friends. I think most people belong with a certain clique simply because they are being themselves and their unique personalities and interests falls into that stereotype. I believe you’ll make positive, lasting friendships when you show off the real you, so what are you waiting for?
- Take some time to reflect on your good qualities and the reasons you will make a great friend. I think that you’ll have an easier time making friends if you see yourself as a worthy friend.
- Explore your passions. Really dive into the things you love to do and do them publicly. See who else shows up and loves the same things you do. Seek out people with the same interests as you and you are likely to get along.
- Seek out kindness. You may be interested in befriending some of the most popular people in school, but if they are disrespectful to you, this is not a true friend. Finding someone who will treat you well and support you is more important than popularity.
- Make the first move. If you see someone you want to be friends with, wait until they are alone, approach them and introduce yourself. Strike up a conversation, smile and compliment them, and, of course, tell them where you came from! You never know where you can find a nice friend. Since being new is something that you will have in common, it can facilitate your conversation. Talk about your old school, your new school, your opinions, grades, teachers, and you’re bound to find something in common.
- Be brave. Sure, it may seem that like the lunch table seating charts are set and cliques aren’t accepting new applications, but not only is that not true, there are also plenty of other people just like you looking to make new buds and they are just as nervous as you are. So, try not to be intimidated, and don’t let perceived social rules stand in your way. Fortune favors the brave when it comes to making new friends.
- Be approachable. No more eating lunch in the off-campus café. Being approachable means that (you guessed it) you’re more likely to be approached. Smiling is a great head start. Studies show that people who don’t smile tend to have a harder time forming relationships. So, my advice is: Breathe. Relax. Smile!
- Do not stress out and do not try to force it. Be yourself and people who value your qualities will find you. If you have not met anyone who you think is going to turn out to be your lifelong bud yet, so be it. It’s not like you’ve wasted any time: Putting yourself out there and making those first-day connections are crucial steps, if for no other reason than to have some table mates at lunch.
- Join! Join! Join! In my experience, one of the best ways to make a tight knit group of friends is to join a sport or club.
- Be inclusive. Smile and say hello to everyone. You have nothing to lose by saying hello. Cast a wide net—don’t just focus on the popular people. I think making friends in different circles will open you up to more options.
- Continue to show confidence in class by speaking up. I believe an effective way to make new friends in high school is to speak your mind. Let those around you know that you have something to offer—without be obnoxious, of course.
- Another great way to make new friends in high school is to hit social media and update your Facebook and Twitter profiles. Talk about your interests and hobbies and add classmates you’ve spoken to. By doing this, others will get a sense of who you are. Though networking with people you know can help you win over some real-life pals, never accept friend requests from people you don’t know and set your profiles to private.
- Another way to make new friends in high school is to be a volunteer. By cleaning up a park or tutoring groups of children after school, you’ll meet new people and maybe even make some lifelong buds. So, get out there!
Give it time. You might not necessarily have made friends yet at your new school, and that’s OK. Building friendships takes time, and you need to find the right people as well. As long as you don’t give up, you’ll eventually find people you can call your friends
Have fun! High school is supposed to be part of your golden years of your life. Don’t waste it on stressing or hiding in the shadows. Get out there and enjoy yourself! I wish you well.