Q: Hi Sophia! So I am in eighth grade and go to an all girls school and I went to a really small elementary school, so I barely have any guy friends. I want to start hanging out with my boys my age but don't really know how to reach out or meet people without looking "desperate"
A: Target audience achieved! Been there and am there. No matter what your best efforts are to come off uninterested and carefree and magically attract a bunch of guys to your side, it seems like you’re writing in because that’s not really working. Even if you’re not trying to look ‘desperate’, any stab at putting yourself in the right places and forcing those interactions might make you feel desperate nonetheless.
Logging those hours
To be clear while this is strictly about helping people in need… I’m just pointing out that community service is also a co-ed opportunity. Most high schools require students to complete a given amount of community service hours and even if yours doesn’t, I’m sure you will still want to be engaged in your community and give back. Get involved in local organizations by volunteering at an elderly home, homelessness projects, cleaning up beaches, or reading/tutoring students in underserved schools. A majority of teenagers (at least in my city) are involved in nonprofits where teens come together to raise money or items to donate for certain causes such as foster children, kids with cancer, and more. Also, there are probably a lot of great volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood to work at voting polls, holiday events, etc. Talk to older family friends, siblings, or upperclassmen at your school about what community service opportunities they have enjoyed and would recommend.
Another engaging, informative, and (co-ed) activity revolves around academics and politics. In California we have a program through the YMCA called Youth and Government where you meet at your neighborhood YMCA to replicate the state legislature. It is SO fun and a great way to meet people in your neighborhood (I met some of my best friends and other neighborhood friends through this). Definitely look into something similar available in your state. Also, talk to your school or a local club to participate in Model UN or debate.
A big co-ed sport that people love is rowing and being on the crew team. This normally isn’t through school and can be a big time commitment but if you get started early I’m sure you’ll pick it up right away and it will be very rewarding. In most cases club swimming and track teams are also very social.
Public School Events
I assume if you attend a girls school that it is a private school. Don’t forget about the school down the street. Public schools are generally large and no one look at you as an outsider when you show up to an event at the local public high school. An amazing way for middle schoolers to meet new people is to attend high school football and basketball games. I fully immersed myself in that environment and by the end of my freshman year of high school, most people thought I went to that public school because I made a lot of friends there. You can attend a game, an open mic night, the school musical, or improv show. I’m sure you know at least one person at your local public school (especially if you start doing youth and government or other community service opportunities or get a job in your neighborhood)… so make plans to meet up with them and just be really outgoing with everyone you meet!
Get a jobbbb!!!! This summer you could work as a camp counselor (or CIT), at a café, in anice cream shop, or at a teen clothing store. Not only will you make a ton of friends but you’re literally getting paid!
Make the effort
I know you don’t want to seem desperate but don’t feel insecure or self conscious about being in control! It’s scary to join new social settings, introduce yourself to new people but that discomfort is only temporary and one day when you have formed an amazing group of friends, you will be so glad you took that first step. For example, if you have family friends that come over for dinner, actually get to know them and make connections. If your elementary school is having an alumni event or you can visit and reconnect with old friends at a school fair… GO! While this may seem obvious, you never really realize in the moment how connections will pop up again later. Maybe you reconnect with someone in 8th grade and then you become good friends with their friend group at their co-ed school.
Long story short, things WILL fall into place and I’m sure you’ll meet plenty of people at functions and parties in the future but I hope this post helped if you’re looking to take some action now. Plus, it’s not like you’re joining a dating app… volunteering and trying a new sport will also just make you a more well rounded and interesting person so you might as well go for it! Good luck :)
We got this,