Q: "I get so insecure in social situations and am always stressing about how other people perceive me like I'm saying or doing the wrong thing and that no one will like me. It's preventing me from being my real self and I don't know what to do." - Anonymous
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a social setting with friends and you can’t help but wonder why it feels like it wouldn’t matter if you were there or not. Self critical, insecure about your vibe… you get the idea. If you’re like me, you probably wonder, ‘Why can’t people just like me? What did I do? What should I do? I just want to be a part of this group!’ All hands should be raised.
It’s been a year and half since we were back in person for a full, normal school year and even though it feels like nothing really happened during that time at home, a lot has changed. It should feel good to be back to normal… I don’t know about you but it’s not like I’m waltzing back into school 10000x smarter with a million best friends. I know I am not alone when I admit that I have been feeling kind of lonely lately, despite being surrounded by a lot of people again. Maybe you’re feeling this wall flower sense of emptiness too. Maybe it’s because you realized your friends are toxic or you’re feeling drained from school work or home life. Perhaps you just don't have a lot of people in your life who know you for who you really are. This isn’t just a post covid type of loneliness… it's more simply a teen thing that I know for certain we all go through.
I’ve felt this at school: last week I stuck around with a few girls from one of my classes to have lunch with their friend group. Based on this friend groups’ active and intriguing social media presence, I perceived they were going to be super fun to hang out with and that lunch was going to be a 10/10 experience. Oh my was I mistaken. It felt SO strange sitting with them that day. Everyone was on their phone or sh** talking about people I didn’t know. I tried asking about their classes or pretty much anything we all could relate to but it was very unnatural to say the least. I got up and left. Similarly, at camp this summer, I gravitated toward this one group of older girls who were gorgeous, hilarious, and so kind. They had all known each other for years whereas it was my first year and I was the new girl at that camp. I LOVED their energy, but again, I felt like an intruder and there was nothing I could really do to truly feel accepted by the group.
Even though you WILL ultimately find your people, whether it be later on in high school, college, or during your adult years, this doesn’t excuse the fact that you should just accept this loneliness in your life. I get it. It’s really hard to branch out because it constantly feels like you’re an outsider intruding on other peoples’ lives. We all know that painfully awkward feeling of being that one person who floats in the outer circle, almost ‘following’ the friend group. It’s uncomfortable for everyone and I’m done being that person. We’re done, you and I both. Over it. Finito.
After a year of being at home, it’s time that others acknowledge you and make you feel like you’re an integral part of the friendship or group. Let’s make it happen.
Don’t Doubt Your Vibe
Never dilute your personality. Ever. For a while, I thought it was my fault if people didn’t like me, but then I realized they didn’t KNOW me. If you’ve ever wondered, ‘they might like me if they actually knew who I really am’, that just means that you have to try showing your personality off a little bit. I pondered whether my personality was something I could just pull out of me and inject into a conversation… How do you even do that?! Or, is it the group dynamic, the energy, and the people that effortlessly bring the ‘personality’ out of you? In a perfect world, I would say the latter… but coming from an outgoing and naturally enthusiastic person, it’s not that simple. My new mindset: fake it till you make it. By no means am I suggesting you fake your personality so people will like you more but rather that it requires a personality boost to get YOU into the conversation. Teen girls are too wrapped up in our issues, stresses, and insecurities to notice a new face or shy presence. Sometimes, even if it’s uncomfortable, you have to give them a little more flavor then you’re used to so they notice how interesting and fun you are beneath what you normally present. Show the group the value that you add. If you’re funny, insert your humor. If you have cool hobbies, talk about them. If you’re just a kind and smart girl, share your opinions on the topic of conversation and ask relevant questions that will hopefully be reciprocated so they can learn more about you. It’s nerve racking but I constantly push myself to say what’s on my mind in that moment - anything and everything, even if it’s random. Your quirks and inner thoughts affect your actions and ultimately, the personality that you reveal to the world. If you’ve tried the whole ‘being yourself’ thing and it’s just not working and you still feel like these people have no interest in who you are, then it’s a sign that this is not the group for you. It’s not your fault AT ALL nor their’s.
A perfect way to get close to a group or person you are vibing with is by making some sort of plan to get food or do an activity together (beach, movie, county fair, etc). Your best memories with friends don’t include talking at school in between classes. You NEED to take this potential friendship for a test drive. It can be uncomfortable to initiate plans with an entire new group so start off with a one on one plan. Like I mentioned earlier about camp, I knew I really liked this one friend group but breaking in was difficult. Not only did it just take time but it also required me to make a conscious effort to spend time with each of the girls one on one. Usually, they’d ask me how I was liking camp or what I thought of the girls or the boys. I was honest and vulnerable. I knew that if I opened up and formed a deeper connection with these girls individually they’d get to know me better and maybe even appreciate my fresh perspective and companionship.
Quality Over Quantity
All throughout middle school and freshman year, I thought I needed a full friend group with a mix of different personalities and roles (the mom, the partyer, etc) to be content in high school. Anyone who’s ever been in a large friend group knows how messy they can get. Sometimes, having one or two really close and loyal friends by your side is better than an assortment of peripheral friends. You will surely have a large group of friends in college (at least that’s what I always hear). I guess all I’m saying is that maybe you don’t need to chase what you might think is what you want when there’s something perfectly amazing sitting right in front of you.
A little reminder that you are NOT alone in your feelings of loneliness. It takes a lot of confidence in the person you know you are in your heart to reach out to new people and put your personality on display. No matter what, be proud of yourself for being bold and creating your own path.
We got this,