Auntie SparkNotes: Friendless in Vancouver
I just moved from California to Vancouver, last September. I was moderately popular in the sense that I got along well with my school mates and was known as the "friendly girl." I didn't have a problem talking to anyone, and most people enjoyed talking to and hanging out with me. I'm kind of easy going, and don't pay much attention to status quo in school and all that drama. I'm also kind of a nerd (ok, MAJOR nerd), but that was accepted in my old school.
But in this year that I've spent in Vancouver, I haven't made any friends. Sure, I have "acquaintances," but people tend to look over me here. I'm sure I haven't changed my personality, but for some reason, people here just don't like me. It doesn't usually bother me when people don't like me, but I've just been so ignored here, and I feel really lonely. My parents have tried to cheer me up, and I really appreciate that, but it would be nice to have a couple of friends my own age. No one wants to hang out here, or even give me a chance. I know high school can be cliquish (I'm in 11th grade), but this is really bad. I miss my old friends, but I'm trying not to rely on that so much because I live in Canada now!
Am I doing something wrong? Or maybe they've spent so much time together, and don't have time to get to know another person? I never thought I'd be the type to ask, but please Auntie, how do I make friends?
Well, for starters, you'll need:
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
...Oh, wait, my bad. This isn't the recipe for friends; it's the one for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
And in all seriousness, Sparkler, I wish there were a recipe. I wish I could tell you that finding your social group is as easy as putting yourself in the company of people with similar interests, putting a smile on your face, and putting your faith in the eventuality of a connection—and that if you just do everything right, there's no way you'll fail to make friends. Sometimes, it even is that simple.
But if there's one scenario that's tailor-made for it not being that simple, it's high school... and particularly a small, close-knit, cliquish one where you're a newly-arrived foreigner trying to find your place in the unforgiving fabric of a long-established social scene.
To answer your question: no, your inability to make friends is not the result of your having done something wrong, any more than your popularity at your previous school was the result of having done something right. You've just had the plain bad luck to wind up in a place where you don't particularly fit in (and the worse luck to know, from experience, exactly what you're missing.) And ultimately, it may take the big reset of college—when everyone is freaked out, brand new, and starting their social lives from scratch—before you feel like you're truly back on your feet.
But if you can deal with that, and adjust your expectations accordingly, there's no need for you to spend the next two years in total misery. And here, as follows, is how you'll do it:
1. Join things.
Extracurricular activities will always be a good place to get social, particularly if you can find one you excel at. Being a member of a team means a chance to bond with people who share your interests; being a valued member of a team means a chance to bond with people who share your interests and who appreciate and respect you. Even if you don't find your besties there, you'll at least be with your kind of people.
2. Reexamine the social landscape for free-floating "losers."
Don't overlook the possibility of teaming up with other social outliers; if you don't fit in, then you may have more in common with the lone wolves than the cliques. And yeah, I know, it sounds like a bad teen movie—but you've got nothing to lose, right?
3. Recognize the difference between being lonely and being alone.
A less-than-active social life has one upside: it gives you the gift of time. And as a proud nerd, you know that there are a hundred wonderful ways to spend it. Read books, magazines, and long articles on the internet. Draw pictures, write stories, join Tumblr. Re-watch Doctor Who from the beginning; learn to cook; take up knitting. At worst, you'll fill the hours; at best, you'll feel fulfilled.
Oh, and one more thing: cherish the friendships you left behind, but don't let them set the bar.
Vancouver will never be California, and even if your social life blossoms there, it'll never look like the one you had before. Which means that it's okay to miss your friends, to stay in touch, to accept that the people you're closest to are a thousand miles away. But it also means that if you've been holding out hope of recreating the kind of easygoing, nerd-tastic, no-effort-required life you left behind... stop. Even though it's sad. Being happy where you are means being okay with where you aren't.
And, if all else fails, you can be glad that you don't have to be there for long.
Have you ever had to make friends after a move? Share your tips in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.