Gave the Wrong Impression

Question:
It’s my first year in the public school system. Plus, I started out the year in middle school and was put in high school just this February b/c it was decided I was better suited there (I’m 15, and therefore was supposed to be in high school to begin with, but they wanted to know if I could cope.) Anyways, I had a hard enough time learning how to act in a school environment back at middle school, but then when I got swapped to high school… anyways, to make a long story shorter, before I was actually transferred, I was assigned a guide who was in my grade. She was a really nice girl, and I guess I gave her a good enough first impression, b/c at the end of the tour she suggested I hang out with her and her friends if I initially had trouble making friends when I switched over. I was overjoyed, and so when I transferred the next week, I went and sought her out, confident I’d easily fit into her group of friends. I was wrong. It’s not that there was anything wrong with them, or that there’s any big difference between her friends and me, but I don’t know, something just happened to me and I couldn’t sit there and make conversation. I froze, all of the five or so times I tried hanging out with them. Something about how they were so close to each other and I was this random outsider prevented me from speaking up, even though I know that’s all I would of had to do to eventually fit myself into the swing of things. So anyways, that’s what I did: I withdrew myself. I didn’t try hanging out with her anymore and retreated to every loner’s best friend at school: the library. I’ve spent every month since late March in there, by myself, and in early March I turned down up to three requests from herself and one of her friends to come back and try hanging out with them again. I don’t know why. Looking back, I know now that if I’d just stuck it out then, right now we’d all be like best friends probably. But anyways… what I want to know is… see, I don’t want to go back to that school in tenth grade with no friends (plus my former classmates from eighth grade, whom I never particularly got on with and will no doubt tease me to suicidal depression if they discover I went into high school and failed to make any connections) and of all the other people I’ve met during my time at this school, in the end I feel like I had the most in common with those girls (my guide and her friends.) and I really want to try and become a part of their group, only… now everytime I see them, mostly they’ll smile, but one of the girls (and my guide’s best friend) just seems to find it awkward looking at me, and… I don’t know, I just feel like we all feel extremely awkward about how I blew them off earlier in the year, and I’m struggling with how I can try to start over with them. There’s only three more weeks of the school year, and I don’t think there’s any chance of me being able to just pop myself into their group next year, so basically, I’m wondering what you think I should do? Should go up to all of them at lunch time and confess I was unreasonably anti-social at the beginning of the year but now I’d really appreciate the opportunity to give them a new impression and this time actually make an effort to be friends with them, or should I just approach one of them and ask beforehand if I’d even be welcomed? OR, should I just dump the idea altogether and not pursue friendship with them at all? 
Phyllis replied:
 
 
Education is not only about becoming good at math and science, but becoming good at getting along with other people.  And just as you need to study history and literature and physics and biology, you need lessons in getting along with your classmates.  The very best way to do this is–over the summer and at the start of school next year–join every possible group or club or activity you can, within reason.  Sports, drama, stamp collecting, book discussion, dance, or choral, where the main activity is DOING something together, and making friends is incidental.  It is SO, SO, SO much easier to ease into friendships when the attention is on something else, than when you are staring other people in the face and are sitting together for the express purpose of MAKING FRIENDS.  In the meantime, however, it might help if you selected, among that welcoming group of friends, the girl whom you might feel closest too, and simply tell her what you told me in this letter.  That you just felt awkward, you’re not used to public schools, and you really don’t know why you withdrew from them as you did.  Ask to be included when they do something together, or go someplace together, where the focus isn’t on sitting around just talking.  Be a volunteer in your community where you will be with others your age naturally.  What do you enjoy doing?  What are you especially good at doing?  How can you somehow transfer this skill, this enjoyment, to a volunteer project?  You will learn the most about making friends by DOING something friendly with others your own age.  In the meantime, be upfront about your awkwardness.  These girls are feeling awkward too because they don’t know if they have done something to offend you or not.  Honesty can work wonders.  Best of luck.

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