I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make any new friends in junior high school and sure enough I haven’t made any. What can I do?
Remember, you’re not the only one who’s scared. Most of your peers are just as frightened of change as you are—maybe more. Knowing that, it’s easy to understand why they might not be too outgoing. Try to make it easier for them to approach you by smiling and introducing yourself. If you’re really bold, you could invite someone you’ve just met to do something with you after school.
Ignore the cliques. You might think that if you could just get into a group, your troubles would be over. But there are problems with cliques, too. In a clique, the group decides what is cool in music, friends, clothes, even grades and religion. You may find temporary acceptance but at the cost of your free agency. Look for real friends who enjoy your individuality and respect your right to choose.
Respect their space. Sometimes, no matter what you do, the gift of friendship won’t be returned. One girl complained that she was always the one to call and invite her friends to do something. They never called to invite her out. Finally, she decided it was time to seek out additional friends. By pursuing a one-sided friendship, she was setting herself up for hurt feelings.
Keep Busy. Don’t spend time agonizing over your faults and waiting to find a friend who will make you happy. Learn to find happiness by doing the things you enjoy. Learn to play an instrument, try a new sport, or read the scriptures. Then look for opportunities to lose yourself in the service of others.
Give other age groups a chance. If you can’t find friendship in your school, look elsewhere. Perhaps you relate better to elderly people or younger kids. Become a volunteer at a hospital or rest home or volunteer to work with children. Community service gives you a chance to meet people of all ages. You might just find your niche.
Include the excluded. Believe it or not, there are people your own age who feel as friendless as you. And you can do something about it. Look for them and give them a chance. Both of you might be pleasantly surprised.
Give your family a chance. Being friends with your family can have great advantages. Caring family members won’t reject you if you don’t dress in the “right” fashions and they won’t move away. Best of all, family friendships can last for eternity.
Ask for help. Ask trusted family members or Church leaders if there are things you could do to improve your social skills. If you keep hearing the same suggestion over and over again, it may be time to change. Constructive criticism may be hard to accept, but it could make a big difference.
Don’t compromise your character. Don’t try to be something you’re not. After a while, it gets hard to keep up the act and you’ll wish you’d never tried to fake it. You may even end up feeling lonelier than before. Whatever you do, don’t lower your standards just to fit in.
Don’t forget to pray. Heavenly Father knows your needs and cares about you. Use this time to grow closer to him, and he will give you strength to deal with your challenges. If all else fails, remember that this situation won’t last forever. Hang in there, and friends will come.
If new students move in, remember that they have the same problem as you. Be nice to the new kids. Be the first one to talk to them.
Alisa Baxter, 13, Austin, Texas
I’m having the same problem right now and I’m in the middle of solving it. My mom gave me some great advice. I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get offended pretty easily. She told me to stop that. She also said that most people aren’t going to stay your friend if you do that sort of thing. I have made a few friends since that talk. It really helped me to understand a lot of things.
Leah Puckett, 12, Grand Junction, Colorado
Find ways to make yourself better inside and out. When you look and feel good you have an easier time talking to people.
Ticia Perry, 17, Austin, Texas
First, just be yourself. Next, get to know the kids at church and eventually you’ll be introduced to other kids at school. Third, do your best in school. Fourth, do not stoop to levels that make you feel uncomfortable. Finally, do not forget that Heavenly Father is your friend. He is always there for you when you need him, and he will never turn his back to you.
Jason Ahlman, 15, Jefferson, Oregon
Find out if there are some kids from church who are attending the same school as you and get to know them. Set up a meeting place and have lunch together.
Sue Elizabeth V.S. Manuma Long Beach, California
I remember entering junior high. I was afraid no one would be my friend and it was scary. But then I became more assertive. When I walked down the hall, I walked tall with my head up and made eye contact with everyone I met. I said hello to everyone and eventually people started answering back. Many would stop to talk with me. Others sat by me at lunch. Gradually, I learned that when you look like you are having fun, people want to be around you because they want to have fun too.
Christa Marie Casper, 19, Chatsworth, California
Join extracurricular activities. The first few days may be a little lonely, but once you start talking to people and getting to know them, you’ll have a whole new group of friends.
Tricia Trickler, 16, Bluffdale, Utah
I have gone to two different junior high schools in two years. If you pray to the Lord and ask for courage to talk to people, he will give it to you. You have to believe in yourself. You can do it.
Amanda Liston, 13, Turlock, California
If you tell yourself you’ll make friends, then you will. The same goes if you tell yourself you won’t, you won’t. Change your attitude and make a goal to smile and say hi to one new person every day.
Anona Cardon, 15, Bothell, Washington
Talk to the kids at your lunch table, in your classes, and by your locker. Tell jokes, laugh at other people’s jokes, and smile a lot. Get involved in sports or other activities. Don’t give up.
Sarah Alcorn, 12, Indianapolis, Indiana
Always be positive! Never be negative. I don’t know anyone who enjoys being around a person who is always down on everything. When people start to notice how happy you are and how fun you are to talk with, they will want to talk with you more often.
Craig Jarman, 17, Henderson, Kentucky
When I came to my new school I did not have any friends either for a long time. I was very unhappy and began to wonder what I was doing wrong. I read scriptures and learned that Jesus Christ is the very best friend I can ever get. I also began to think in a positive way and said nice things to people. At first they just smiled at me, but now I have a lot more friends than I ever expected.
Naomi Hartzheim, 17, Dusseldorf, Germany
It helps to have a talent or interest in something like music or art. You may find someone who shares your interests. For example, I play the flute and I joined the band, where I made lots of good friends. I now have many friends all over the country.
Rachel Ennis, 12, Layton, Utah
Always remember that you have two very best friends, Heavenly Father and Jesus. They will always be your friends, no matter what you do. They will always be there for you and they’re always watching out for you.
Jennifer Kae Allison, 11, Universal City, Texas