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Making friends

Hey Sam! I'm a year 7 (12) girl who's just started secondary school. Nobody from my primary school goes to my new school so it's difficult to make friends. I try but everyone already has their own friend groups. I always feel left out and alone during group activities; day by day it makes me more upset. It's almost as if i'm a shadow lingering around. Sometimes, I cry about it at night, close my eyes and imagine having a best friend. These days, i live off that imagination but in still feel a bit empty inside. I've tried telling my mum but she doesn't seem to care. Please, please give me advice. Thank you!

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Sam

Hi there,

Making friends is something I get a lot of letters about. Most people worry about making friends - you're not alone in this. Usually people respond well when you approach them in a friendly, confident way, but getting the courage and self-esteem to do that can take some practice.

The starting point of any friendship is you. If you feel good about yourself and who you are then it's easier for other people to see this as well. Try reminding yourself of things that make you feel proud to be you. You could try writing good things about yourself and putting them around your room so you see them every day. Anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend - if you believe that then it becomes easier to approach people and start conversations.

Talking to people you don't know very well is a skill that takes time to learn. It can help to ask people about themselves, listen to what they say and take an interest in them. People generally feel good when someone puts time and effort into learning more about them. Childline have lots of tips and advice about making friends.

Another important part of friendships is finding opportunities to meet new people in the right setting. School can give you a lot of opportunities to meet new people, but it can be hard to connect with them there. But joining a sport or activity club is a great place to meet people you share interests with. The club gives you something in common that you both enjoy, as well as being a regular way to meet somewhere where there's no pressure.

When you meet new people it can still take some time to become friends. Friends usually start out as people you meet, but as you spend more time together you get to know each other better and feel comfortable with them. Once you feel comfortable enough with someone you’ve met you could try asking them round for dinner or to go out to see a movie.

It's also important to get used to rejection. Not everyone is going to be a good match for who you are and what you’re interested in. There’ll be people who don't want to be your friend - and that's okay. There will also be people you don't want to be friends with either. As long as nobody is being mean or bullying you, it's okay if you don't get on that well. Good friendships feel right and don't need to be forced. If someone isn't responding well to being your friend, then they probably weren't right for you anyway.

I hope this has helped a bit, but if you need to talk then Childline counsellors are always here for you. You can also find support from other young people on the message boards.

Thanks for sharing this with me - take care.

Sam

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