During quarantine, I realized that I don’t actually like my old ‘friends’, and school is unbearable.
You’re not alone, says our elder. Talk to a counselor – and know that you will get through this.
Original Letter: Dear EWC,
Hello. So, lately (especially during quarantine) I’ve had time to reflect on my feelings. I don’t have any friends. I had a falling out with my ex-best friend, which ended with me basically cutting ties with all of my other ‘friends’. My other best friend moved to a different state and we haven’t talked in months. While I was reflecting, I realized something: I didn’t actually like any of my old ‘friends’, I simply talked to them because I was terrified of being alone. Now, I’m in a class with all of my old friends, and it’s so unbelievably draining – it’s just the worst. And it’s like that for all of my other classes as well. Without friends, school is like a never-ending impossible chore. I wake up at 6am, only to spend seven hours in a building where I experience awful anxiety in packed hallways, with the most stereotypical mentally draining kids you can imagine, going to classes where I learn nothing that could ever help me in real life.
Now that I do online school, I’ve realized that there’s nothing for me at my school. What I described was the entirety of my last school year; except I had people I could vent to, so I lied to myself, and tried my best to sugarcoat how awful I felt. I’ve talked to my parents about it, and they aren’t taking any action. My dad said he’s ‘seriously worried about me’, and talked about getting me a counselor for like, two days, before completely dropping the subject. I’ve been contemplating turning to a school counselor, but it’s very hard for me to talk about how I feel. I’m very lost right now, and some advice on what I could do would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for writing to EWC, Sam. I’m sorry it has taken a while for someone to answer your letter, and I’ll be glad to share my thoughts.
Let me begin by saying I feel what you are experiencing is not at all unusual. We have received many letters from young people, particularly students who are struggling socially and academically right now. Making and keeping true friends, and feeling like you belong and are accepted, are already difficult without something like a pandemic thrown into the mix. Social distancing has disrupted the normal processes of making and maintaining friendships, and home quarantine has caused young people to feel isolated and alone.
The situation you are in, and the feelings you are experiencing, are not something you can easily deal with by yourself. You did a great first step by reaching out to us to vent, and also ask for advice. We can give you suggestions from our own knowledge and personal experience, but I really feel that you would, indeed, benefit best from speaking to a trained, qualified counselor. Please speak to your parents again about helping you with this. If that does not work out, go see your school counselor. Keep in mind that it’s completely confidential, and I suspect you would not be the first student to speak to him/her about your struggles with this pandemic. The hard part is getting the courage to walk in, sit down, and speak about your concerns, but please be assured that the counselor is there for you, and is trained, and willing, to help. Writing down the things you want to talk about may help, and you could always just show the counselor a copy of this letter.
It’s tough when you have become disconnected from your friend group at school. Most kids have already formed their groups and trying to get in with new friends in the middle of the school year is difficult. I suspect this is the situation you find yourself in? I feel like you are stuck in a rut and can’t find a way out. Maybe online schooling is a short-term fix because you don’t have to deal with the anxiety and isolation you felt at school. However, it’s not a permanent solution, because complete social isolation is not emotionally healthy. No one really knows how long this pandemic will last, so, in my opinion, it’s important to find was to interact with other young people in ways that are enjoyable for you. One suggestion is to take stock of your interests and consider joining a club. It’s easier to make friends when you are all sharing a common interest.
Another thing I suggest is to look within yourself and try to think of what would make you happy. What would you need to do to make that happen? What things are going on that make you unhappy? What can you do to eliminate them? You can’t always just sit around and wait and hope that things will change. Sometimes we have to find ways to change the things we don’t like about our lives. It’s called being proactive, and it empowers us to be in charge of our own happiness and peace of mind. If speaking to a counselor is a step toward taking charge and achieving what you want, go for it!
Lastly, I want to assure you that things will get better. You will get through this; I feel confident you will. Humans are very resilient and adaptable, and you have inner strengths of which you are probably not aware. Now is the time to call upon them to help you get through.
I hope you will find my advice helpful, and I really wish you all the best. Please write again if you need more advice. Someone will be glad to answer. Take care, and good luck!