I don’t feel as if I belong anywhere. I don’t have any close friends. I’m not a member of any “in groups.” I really miss having someone to confide in. Sometimes I get so lonely I just feel like giving up. What can I do?
New Era Answer:
It is a perfectly normal thing to want to “belong.” Virtually every normal human being has a need to be accepted, to be part of a group. Among young people especially, this “longing for belonging” often is as real and as pressing as the need for food or water or oxygen.
And there’s the answer: Since so many others feel the same need you have described, what remains is for you to find each other. There are so many others who are lonely! They need friends, just as you do! They are looking for you, even as you are looking for them!
They’re in your Laurel class. They’re in your Scout troop. They’re in your third-period English class. They’re in the lunch room. They’re in your institute class. They’re all around you, hoping to find a friend, hoping to be an accepted member of somebody’s circle of friends.
But how do you find each other? You decide what interests you, and you go for it. When you get involved in something you really like, you put yourself next to others who like the same thing. Having common interests gives you and your soon-to-be best friend something to talk about, something you both enjoy and both know about. The next thing you know, you’ve made a friend.
Do you like taking pictures? Then join the photography club, and be an active member. Ask questions. Help others. Share cameras and pictures. Perhaps your friend, your someone-to-confide-in, is there, waiting for you to join.
Do you like swimming? Put on your swim suit, and go where it’s wet. You’ll find the other “swimming nuts” there, doing what you like to do. Jump right in. Do your aquatic thing. Let everyone see you being your normal happy self and having a ball. Maybe your future-best-friend is there, waiting for you to dive in.
Another source of friends: Service. It may be that you’ll find your friend through volunteer work as a candy striper at the hospital. Maybe the group you’re looking for is helping out at a school for handicapped children. Maybe the best friend who is looking for you is donating a few hours a week at the library or at the Red Cross. Donating service not only puts you next to potential friends, it makes you a more interesting person, a person others would like to have for a friend.
And service does something else: It helps you feel better about yourself. It lifts your self-esteem, lifts your self-confidence, lifts your spirits. While you’re helping someone else, you’re really helping yourself become a person others are more likely to want for a friend.
(Incidentally, research has shown that two of the most reliable ways for young people to raise their self-esteem and their “happiness level” are (1) to be involved in extracurricular activities at school, and (2) to be involved in service to others.)
Now, this matter of finding a friend may take some time. It may not happen on the first try. But it has worked for countless others, and it can work for you. Keep trying. And while you’re trying, you’ll be turning yourself into a better, happier person.
A word of caution: Don’t prejudge others as potential friends. What does it matter that a person is taller than you? or shorter? or thinner? or heavier? What does it matter that a person is handsome or plain? Beauty may be only skin deep, but true friendship goes clear to the bone marrow!
And one thing more: While you’re working on all of this, don’t forget your Friend from Galilee, the one who proved the depth of his friendship by giving his very life for you, and who says, “Ye are my friends.” Tell him of your need. Ask Heavenly Father in the name of your Eternal Friend to help you find the other friends who are looking for you. And ask him to sustain you until you find those friends.
He wants very much for you to find each other.
It’s not uncommon to feel lonely or left out. What you need to do is concentrate on others instead of yourself. Look around school to see if there are others who look lonely and try to do something to help them feel as if they belong. You’ll feel better about yourself and chances are you’ll find some new friends too.
Tonya Stewart, 17 Bountiful, Utah
Popularity is very deceiving. Once you get out of high school, no one cares if you were part of the “in-crowd” or not. All that matters is how you feel about yourself. It’s hard when you don’t think you have any friends, but you do have one friend—yourself! Start your own kind of crowd. As long as things are all right on the inside, they soon will become all right on the outside. You always have your family and, most of all, your Father in Heaven, and those are the friends who really matter.
Staci Neilson, 17 Salt Lake City, Utah
I would suggest that you become involved in some extracurricular activities. You may want to join some sports teams or become a member of the science club or some other group that interests you. You may also try being extra friendly to people. Say hi and give a warm smile to everyone you see. If you want to have a friend you need to be a friend.
Amy Nelson, 16 Grantsville, Utah
Don’t give up! No one ever got anything that way. Even when we feel as if we don’t have any friends, our Father in Heaven is always there for us, and he is the best friend of all. Always remember that you are not alone.
Krista Ann Johnson, 18 Grantsville, Utah
First of all, try to find others like yourself. When you find these lonely people, try to make them feel important as you want to feel. They will treat you as a friend. Be friendly to everyone around, both popular and not. If you try to be the perfect friend, you will most likely find a perfect friend.
Brian Bruner, 17 Salt Lake City, Utah
When I’m feeling down or left out I turn to my scriptures. It works!
Shane Van Noy, 18 Grantsville, Utah
You should approach people with the assumption that they will want to be your friend, and they usually will. If they still don’t, you might take a look at your own attitude and behavior and see if there is anything that needs changing.
Carmen Varona, 15 Lima, Peru