DEAR KELLY: At the end of the school year, I didn’t like the group I hung out with. Every day they would comment on something like how my eyebrows looked weird or why did I wear that outfit or my feet look big in those shoes. Plus I know they did things together over the weekend and never invited me. It happened a lot and they never cared that my feelings were hurt.
The problem was I thought it would be weird if like two months before school got out I suddenly started sitting with new people or not didn’t stand with them in the morning. I didn’t want people to talk about me or make a scene, so I just stayed with my old group and took their mean comments every morning.
I doubt they’ll reach out or try and hang out with me over the summer, so I don’t think that will be awkward but when we go back it might be weird. I don’t know what to say or what to do and it’s kind of stressing me out, and school doesn’t even start for like two months.
Any ideas or advice?
DEAR SIERRA: Who we hang out with says a lot about who we are and what is important to us. Our friendships often depict the road we travel and the obstacles we will face. Sometimes we recognize that our friendships do not build us up nor do they make us feel good about our place in school. When that happens, change is needed. Knowing when it is time to change friendships can be a very powerful tool in helping you stay the course and travel in the direction you want for yourself. It can be a very challenging but ultimately freeing task that liberates you from becoming someone you do not want to become.
You are in a perfect position right now to start the change process. What do you like to do? What activities in life bring you joy? Sports? Drama? Art? Fashion? Music? Start to think about things you like to do that are positive and healthy. Join a class over the summer. Start a book club. Gather friends to meet to play sand volleyball, even if you stink at volleyball. Go bowling with people who make you laugh. Find a cool concert to ask some new friends to join you. Join a teenage youth group through a church. Volunteer at an animal shelter or a local children’s camp. Host game night with different people you knew from school who were nice and easy to be around.
Will it be awkward in the beginning? Perhaps. Eventually the awkwardness will wear down and you will feel comfortable and connected to the people around you. Don’t wait for people to ask you do things; organize an event that will bring people together.
One suggestion when changing groups is to find people who are like-minded. If you want to be a chill person who is kind to others and doesn’t put people down, find like-minded people. Hanging around like-minded people nurtures positive energy in your life and keeps you on the track to success.
Start doing things with your new friends over the summer. It’s a great transition into the fall. Once you develop these new friends who make you feel good and treat you the way you want to be treated, develop a new plan. “Let’s sit together next year,” or if they are already a group of friends, ask to join them at their table.
Don’t waste your valuable free time over summer consumed with worry over next fall. Who knows – the old group may not even blink an eye that you aren’t sitting with them if you haven’t hung out with them over the summer. It may flow nicely and the drama you are fearing may not happen. Wasting energy on something that may happen is not productive. Focus your energy on developing friendships and surrounding yourself with people who embrace you. Find people who are more concerned about who you are than what your eyebrows look like.
Life is always about adjusting and adapting. When we adjust our friendships to those people we enjoy being with and who make us laugh and smile, we are choosing joy. If we stay unhappy and continue to be with people who leave us feeling empty, we are choosing to suffer. It’s OK to be uncomfortable for a little bit if it means you stop suffering the whole year.