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Auntie SparkNotes: I'm an Odd New Kid; How Do I Make Friends?

Auntie SparkNotes: I'm an Odd New Kid; How Do I Make Friends?

Hey, Auntie,
At the beginning of this school year, in August, I entered high school as a freshman. I was pretty nervous, because there's something that sets me kinda apart from other typical high schoolers. I went to a two private schools for kindergarten through 8th grade, and this is my first time in public school. I never was really close with a lot of the people from my old school, and I want to meet a lot of people and have friends.

Since school started, my two best friends and I have been hanging at lunch with this group of about 20 friends who all went to the same public middle school in our town. They seem really cool, and I want to be close with them, but many of them still cling pretty tightly to one another. Don't get me wrong, they're still super nice to us, but will there ever be a point where they stop hanging on so much and my friends and I can become close with them? If so, can you give me some advice for making friends? Or do you think HS for them is just going to be middle school part two?

Oooh, ooooooh! Okay, Sparkler, so check this out: you know how totally freaked out you were about being at a new school, meeting new people, and making new friends? That doesn't make you even the teensiest bit unique. Everyone else who's ever gone to high school has experienced that, too—even the kids who arrived there with a pack of their besties-since-kindergarten. It's just that where your fears were of the what-if-I-never-make-any-friends-and-nobody-likes-me variety, those kids all have the heebie-jeebies that the people they've known all their lives will (gasp!) change, and that everything's gonna be (horrors!) different. So, they cling.

For a couple months anyway, until they feel comfortable and settled enough to relax their grip, expand their horizons, and forge relationships based on something other than the comfort of a known quantity. Which, in the case of your freshman class, should be happening right about... now.

Of course that doesn't mean that the group of kids you're hoping to infiltrate won't still be super-duper close, and I can't promise you that the members of this particular pack will ever become better friends with you than they are with each other. That depends on them, on you, and on all the mysterious uncontrollable factors that make one person attractive and likeable to another. It's totally unpredictable.

But I can promise you is this: your high school social scene isn't a zero sum game, where people need to discard one friendship in order to forge another. And instead of hoping the bonds within this group will loosen or decay so that you can wedge your way in—which, among other things, is the sort of creepy Machiavellian mindset that will actively dissuade people from wanting to hang out with you—you can do this: keep being present and engaged in the relationships you have already. Appreciate that you have gotten to know people, even if you're not instant besties. Continue gravitating toward the people who interest you, and be open to friendships with people you might have overlooked. Value quality over quantity, so that whatever connections you do make are meaningful ones. Remember that everyone, not just you, has something that makes them feel strange and set-apart from the rest of their peers. Remind yourself as needed that your educational background does not make you any better or worse or weirder than the other kids at your school.

And above all, don't force it. Close relationships don't require work, or strategy, or opportunistic hovering; they just take time. Your job is to be patient and enjoy the process, while you trust in yourself and the humans around you to do what human beings do, which is connect. Which you will, I promise.

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Topics: Advice
Tags: auntie sparknotes, school, public school, private schools, making friends

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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