Finding “Natural” Friendships

I started at a new school at the beginning of 7th grade.  I was really shy and socially anxious, and very worried about making friends.  I felt like everybody else fit in and had a place but me.  I noticed that the girls in my grade were very “cliquey”, and I felt like I had to do whatever I could to become part of one of these cliques.  While struggling, I met another girl who was also new to the school, who was also struggling to fit in.  We got along really well and ended up becoming close friends.  But she wasn’t part of the “clique” that I really wanted to be a part of.  Looking back, I realize that sometimes I was so focused on (and my self-esteem was so caught up in) gaining “status” and trying to become a part of a clique, that I neglected the close friendship I had right in front of me.  The silly thing was that I really wasn’t very compatible with the girls in the clique I was trying to join, and when they did include me in social gatherings, I really didn’t feel comfortable and really couldn’t be myself.  But I was just so caught up in this idea of wanting to “belong” and gaining “status”, I didn’t care.
Over the years that followed, I developed several other close friendships in that school, that developed more naturally, with people I felt compatible with, and that I didn’t have to “force”.  Looking back, I realize that the close friendships – with people to whom I really felt connected, could be open and honest with, could talk to easily, could be myself around, etc. – those were the people that really mattered.  I wish somebody could have explained to me that it was okay that I felt shy and it was okay that it would take a little time to make close friends and it was okay to just have one-on-one friendships and not be in a clique.  I wish I had known that it really wasn’t worth stressing and obsessing over my social status or trying to become a part of some group that really wasn’t the right match for me.

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