Why can’t they see the real me?

I want to come out of my shell but I don’t know-how. Help!

Our elder has a few tips for finding friends who will appreciate you just the way you are.

Dear EWC:

Hi, I’m a senior in high school. I feel like this year I have gone back into my shell and I’m really frustrated with it. I’m a shy reserved person as it is but last year I was doing really well with breaking out of my shell but I’ve noticed that I have gone back into my shell, I’ve become quiet, and alot more awkward.
I feel I have been coming off as standoffish and rude but I don’t mean to be at all! One of my friends even said I can come off as standoffish sometimes and I don’t want to be like that. I’m just really socially awkward and have gone back into myself. I feel bad because I feel like some people now think I’m mean or bitter or rude or something like that but I’m not and I don’t want to be like that or come off as that!
My confidence levels have kind of gone down too since I’m not friends with a lot of people anymore because I cut off some really toxic people in my life. I have heard that I should feel good cutting off toxic people but it seems like those friends did not care that we stopped talking or hanging out, like I was nothing to them. I’m over here lonely and feeling like I made a mistake cutting them off while they seem happy and thriving with their other toxic friends. So I don’t have a lot of friends anymore either.

I really want to get out of my shell and I want to come off as the nice, kind, gentle person I am. How do I do that?

Lincoln-Parker replies:

You shouldn’t feel bad that your toxic friends don’t care that you no longer hang out or talk. You were right to disengage from that group if you did not feel comfortable with how they conducted themselves. You were obviously of a different mindset, morals, or whatever it was that you considered toxic so 1) they probably knew that you were too different from their group, and 2) why do you care if you did not fit with them anyway? At your age, it shows real maturity to know this is not a group that represents who I am or want to be even though it has left you lonely in the short term. That loneliness won’t last for long.

For now, I suggest that you don’t try too hard to fit into a specific group. Try to put yourself in places where people like you hang out to do positive things. That could be in volunteering situations, church groups, clubs, or any other place where people get together to have a good time, enjoy themselves and do good things. Select things that are of interest to you, such as music, athletics, or theater—activities where you can be exposed to people with whom you have things in common. That is where you will find people you enjoy being around and, over time, will probably find your best friends.

Understandably, you felt like you were in “your shell” before because you were not comfortable with what was going on in that group. Because you were not comfortable, you were not fully engaged so you were neither in nor out. Fortunately, you figured out that this was not your type of environment and you exited as gracefully as you could. Some in that group may not like that you left but don’t look back. You followed your conscience and that is the right path. Now, have confidence that there are a lot of others out there who fit your mold, and you will find them and it will be wonderful. You’re a senior in high school on the horizon of some wonderful experiences and opportunities. Keep making good choices and enjoy the journey.

Letter #: 455088
Category: Self-Improvement

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