20949_000_008Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.
I feel like I don’t have any real friends. I know a lot of people, but they’re just acquaintances. I’m so lonely, and I feel like there’s no one I can talk to. What can I do?
Remember that occasional bouts of loneliness are a normal part of life.
Extend yourself to others—don’t wait for them to come to you.
Make your search for friends a matter of prayer.
Be sure to make friends with your family members.
Honestly assess yourself. Are you developing the qualities a good friend should possess?
There are few feelings in the world that can match the feeling you get when you’re surrounded with good friends. The opposite, of course, is also true; feeling lonely can be pretty miserable.
The love of the Savior is the best antidote for loneliness. He said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). Family members can fill a large part of the void, too. But most people also crave the companionship and understanding of people in their peer group.
Here at the New Era offices, we received an unusually large number of responses to this question. Apparently, many readers know what it feels like to be without friends. For many readers, living the standards of the Church automatically makes many social occasions off-limits. Others often feel they lack the personality, good looks, sense of humor, or material wealth to attract friends. But more important than any of those reasons, most people can relate to this question because occasional bouts of loneliness are a normal part of life.
During your teen years your personality, interests, and tastes change as you learn and develop. As those changes take place, you may grow apart from some of your friends, and a new group of friends isn’t usually ready and waiting. When you need to make new friends, don’t fall into the trap of waiting for them to come to you. Instead, gather up your courage and extend your friendship to those around you.
One reader, who asked not to be named, wrote that there were few LDS youth in her hometown to develop friendships with. Her friends at school were making choices she wasn’t comfortable with, so she drifted apart from them, too. After a long bout of depression, she decided that the best solution to her problem of being friendless was to work on her spiritual strength.
“As I got closer to the Savior,” she wrote, “I learned that I was the one who needed to change. I needed to be kind and outgoing. I now feel that I have a lot of friends who love and respect me.”
So, if you’re feeling left out or lonely, take comfort in the knowledge that almost no one makes it through life without experiencing those feelings. But don’t wallow in feeling sad. Instead, take stock of the kind of friend you are, and work on areas that need improvement. Also remember that you are unique and that it’s possible you will be without friends your own age for a time, especially if those around you don’t respect your religious beliefs or your standards.
Look to the Savior to be your model as you seek friends. He was patient, kind, loving, understanding, and trusting. His friends knew they could depend on Him and look to Him to do right. As you build a relationship with Him and your Heavenly Father, others can’t help but be interested in a friendship with you.
Join sports teams, drama productions, and clubs you are interested in. Say hi and smile at people often. Invite people to do things and go places with you. The best way to start a friendship is to make an effort.
Jessie Beery, 17 Colorado Springs, Colorado
I’ve found that one of the best ways to gain real friends is to be at church every week. The people I meet at church are good and helpful, and because they are willing to serve our Father in Heaven, I know they will make good friends.
Christopher G. Carvajal, 16 Isabela, Philippines
Have you tried to become friends with the members of your family? Brothers and sisters who are close to your age are a lot of fun to talk to and could even have some helpful advice.
Niesha Haws, 17 North Platte, Nebraska
Be yourself at all times! Be kind to everyone. After a while, the true friends you’re looking for will find you. In the meantime, talk to your Heavenly Father. After all, He knows you better than anyone else, and no one on earth will understand you as well as He will.
Emily Kuehn, 17 Stockholm, Sweden
To have good friends, you have to be a good friend. Try being the kind of friend you would like to have. Be interested in other people, and they will be interested in you.
Tricia Montez, 17 Denair, California