How to Make Friends: A Sparkler's Step-by-Step Manual!
Alright, fellow Spark-residents. We’ve got some serious business to deal with. While reflecting on the mysteries of life during one especially boring Algebra class, I decided to write an article on how to make friends in high school (or anywhere, for that matter). Even though I’ll probably fail miserably in comparison to Jono or Auntie, the beauty of SparkLife is that I can give it a shot. Right?
There’s one little secret I learned that will carry you all the way to homecoming king/queen or student council president (wow, this is starting to sound suspiciously like one of those internet ads for fad diets): the key to being liked is confidence.
Before you roll your eyes and click on that enticing link to the new Dear Albert, hear me out. I know this is exactly what you’ve heard from every single advice columnist, encouraging mom, and guidance counselor pamphlet. But truth is, they’re kind of right. You actually can just be yourself and people will like you.
No, wait! You’re still leaving! I also…um…have cookies! Chocolate chip, right out of the oven! You can have the whole tin if you finish my article! (And by the way, bribery is never a good tactic to use on potential friends.)
See, guys, I can offer something that other advice-givers can’t: here-and-now, living-it experience. There’s just something in our teenage brains that doesn’t really believe what adults, or even college-age kids, say. Because while it may be true that ten years down the road, nothing that happened in high school will matter to us, and that mean comment that Beth McPopularpants made about us in homeroom will be totally forgotten, it's an unavoidable fact that right now, we care a heck of a lot.
I know firsthand what it’s like to be shy and awkward and basically terrified of human contact. I was “the weird girl” until freshman year, because I was always younger and less grown-up than everybody around me. I started school a year early AND I hit puberty pretty late. (I only got my period at 14-almost-15! And sorry, Manklers, I promise this is the last health class reference.)
But enough with the autobiography, and down to the actual advice. Here’s my step-by-step manual for making friends:
1. Act confident, even when you’re not. I know, I know, acting like something you’re not isn’t exactly what you’d expect for sagely guidance. But hey, high school basically IS a big show you put on for other people. And the idea is, after you act like something for long enough, you become it. Truth is, even the most gorgeous, popular, girl looks in the mirror in the morning and finds something wrong with her. The football quarterback feels vulnerable and anxious sometimes. But they act like they’ve got it all together. And this brings me to…
2. Everybody else feels exactly what you’re feeling. It’s easy to feel like you’re the weirdest one, or the most nervous, but think about it. What are the mathematical chances that you, in a population of over 7 billion, are the one freak child that was born with hyper-shyness? Like 0.000000000000001%. (Ok, so I didn’t actually calculate it, but I hate math.) We’re all humans, and our brains work in similar patterns. If you’re feeling something, you’re definitely not alone. Other people are waiting for you to come up and talk just as anxiously as you are for them. Be the one to start a conversation.
3. Don’t be afraid to talk about what you like. In my “quiet years,” I was constantly convincing myself I was strange. It’s the cycle of doom for shy people, because we make ourselves even shyer by knocking ourselves down. But remember the human population thing: if you enjoy something, other people do too. You’re not a weird alien with completely bizarre interests and hobbies (my apologies if you happen to actually be from Planet Grarglehjgsks). Personal anecdote: I was talking to the popular girl next to me in English one day, and it resulted in an intense plot analysis of the Hunger Games. We’re now really close friends. And I just discovered the other day that my varsity-volleyball German buddy is a hardcore LOTR fan.
4. Never act inferior. This is a big one. Back in seventh grade, I would get butterflies if a popular kid even looked at me. I felt granted a heavenly gift if they uttered a sentence to me. And now I look back on that with self-disgust. How did I expect anyone to take me seriously when I would have kissed the ground where they walked to hang out with them? Granted, you’re still going to feel happy inside the first time that popular chick refers to you as her “friend,” but there’s a huge difference between that and acting like a pathetic puppy. And by puppy behavior, I mean tagging alone at their heels, doing everything they say, and panting—not being adorable and cuddly, which is totally acceptable.
5. Take a step out of your comfort zone. Popular kids are, in fact, actually human. Unless you wear, like, clown clothes every day, they’re not going to ignore you when you talk to them. (And even the circus outfit is guaranteed to start some conversations.) Their universe revolves around having friends, so if you present a friendly, confident, likeable, person, they’re not going to turn down another acquaintance. Mustering the courage to start a convo is a win-win opportunity, because the worst that can happen is they flip their hair arrogantly and walk away. And decent humans won’t do that. Plus, seriously, who would want to be friends with that kind of person anyway?
So that’s it. Just be yourself, pull on a pair confidence pants, and make yourself some friends. I’m not saying you should turn into a shallow airhead just to get popular—I’m saying to challenge yourself to take healthy risks to be the best version of yourself. Because people can’t NOT love that. And school is so much more enjoyable when you have the social aspect to look forward to, as well as that enthralling chemistry problem you’re going to solve.
Oh, and those cookies I bribed you with ? They may or may not actually exist.
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We LOVE this post! What are you best tips for making friends even if you're shy?