I don’t seem to fit in at church. All the other girls in my Young Women group ever worry about are looks and clothes. I don’t have either. No one seems to want to be my friend. What can I do?
We received piles of letters from people who relate to this question. They, too, feel rejected by the young people in their wards or at their schools. They are trying to make the best of their situations, but they still hurt. The saddest thing is that many asked that their names not be printed because they don’t want the people in their wards to know how they really feel.
This question really has two answers. There are things you can do to feel more included. And there are things you can do to make sure others don’t feel left out either.
First, realize that you are not alone. Most people have felt out of place sometime. Often the situation is temporary. As soon as people get to know you and you make an effort to get to know them, friendships form and everyone is more comfortable. And remember that Heavenly Father is always there for you. You can rely on his acceptance and love, even when others seem to reject you.
Give it time. When you are in a new ward, two or three months without friends seems like forever. During this time, try not to be too judgmental of the girls in your class. Don’t accuse them of being unfriendly just because they didn’t rush up to talk to you when you came to church. Let them get to know you. Attend all the activities. Get to know your leaders. Put forth an effort to be friendly and cooperative. Time may be all it takes to develop some new friends.
Expand your circle. If your feelings of rejection don’t change with time and getting to know the girls your age, look for other chances for friendship and support. One of your Young Women leaders may turn out to be the friend you need to talk to. Or maybe the girls a few years younger would be receptive to having an older friend. Maybe you can turn to your family a little more.
Check your attitude. Give yourself a reality check. Are you accusing the girls in your ward of only being interested in looks and clothes because you are just plain jealous? Then you need to work on accepting others without being judgmental, just as you hope they will accept you.
Try an experiment. Pay attention to the girls you would like to become friends with. Just notice the nice things they do. When you feel you can be sincere, compliment them when they do something well, like conduct a class or give a talk in sacrament meeting. This may not change your longing for a close friend, but when you learn to look for the good in others, it will make you happier.
Don’t reject others. When someone makes an effort to include you or draw you in, don’t give them a hard time, thinking they are doing it just because they have to. Give them the benefit of the doubt and try just as hard as they are trying.
You know how painful it is to feel that you’re not included. Don’t let anyone else in your ward feel that way. Talk to new people who visit or move in.
Be a good friend. As you develop friendships in your ward, be the kind of friend you would like others to be to you. Don’t tell someone else’s secrets. Don’t get mad easily. Good friends are willing to forgive when their friends make mistakes.
A Young Women or Young Men class can make a big difference in someone’s life. Don’t let anybody feel bad enough that they could write a letter to the New Era saying that they felt rejected by their ward. Make a circle and draw them in.
When I moved into my new ward two years ago, I bore my testimony the first chance I got. I shared my feelings about the Church and things about me. After sacrament meeting that day, members of the ward came up to me and introduced themselves and shared their feelings with me. This made me feel accepted, and I soon made new friends.
Jennifer Gresh, 15 Gainesville, Florida
You should treat them like you would want to be treated, so talk to them about your interests. I’m sure they’ll listen.
Lynn Mathews, 16 Panaca, Nevada
If it’s that important to your friends to have looks or clothes, they are not realizing their full potential. Do what you feel is right to you, and don’t let other people criticize you.
Lizette Garcia, 14 Moreno Valley, California
I used to feel totally left out at church. It was the worst feeling. The way I overcame it was to make a point to talk to everyone at church. Eventually they started coming up and talking to me first. It will take awhile, but those people who just care about looks and clothes will start caring deeply for you if you make the first and hardest move.
Brenda Hardy, 15 Olean, New York
In every area I have served on my mission, I run into the same dilemma, “How am I going to fit in here?” The answer is quite simple: be yourself. Share your feelings. One of the best ways of doing that is by bearing your testimony. Whether you notice it or not, others will see something very special inside you.
Elder Randall H. McKim, 20 California Arcadia Mission
I have learned that the way to fit in is to be as outgoing as you can to others in your ward. Make an effort to sincerely compliment them on their accomplishments. Be positive and friendly to everyone you see, especially those new in your area. Have confidence in yourself, and don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Pretty soon you’ll fit right in, not because of your looks or clothes, but for who you are—and that’s what is most important.
Emily McAllister, 16 Scottsdale, Arizona
I learned that feeling sorry for myself was not the answer but, instead, to trust in the Lord and believe in myself. Once the others noticed that I had some self-confidence, they saw past my ordinary clothing and lack of popularity, and they recognized me for what I really was—a good friend. I have learned that our Heavenly Father loves us no matter how we look or what we wear.
Elder Cord Doman Austria Vienna Mission
I totally understand how you feel. I felt left out, too, because of the way I looked. First, I went to all the Church activities, even if I didn’t want to. I talked to some girls that I knew and asked them what I should do. I got to know them better, and one of them took me shopping. She helped me find clothes at reasonable prices that looked great on me. I got to know their feelings, and they gave me helpful hints on how to look better. Try to show the people at your ward your wonderful personality.
Miranda Dargan, 14 Tacoma, Washington
Whenever I see someone being left out, I try my best to include them. But some people think that I’m only feeling sorry for them, so they don’t really respond to the friendship. Most ward members want everyone included. If you feel left out and someone tries to be your friend, let them.
Carrie Andrew, 13 Farmington, Utah
If anything, church should be a place where we can feel accepted and not shut out. Develop yourself as you want your life to be. Fill your mind with happy thoughts and whatever you do, don’t dwell on the negative.
Kimberly Prolo, 17 San Jose, California