How Do I Socialize with the Kids at My New Boarding School?

Published: October 25, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,

Dear TeenFx. I have been having a hard time in school I have moved to this private boarding school and it's a very small school there's about only 98 students in the school. I came from public school. The kids at the private school constantly tease me I will admit I look kind of ugly and I have glasses and braces I am basically the cliche nerd except that I have a very fit body and I'm good at weight lifting I just have the face of a nerd. I am very quit and I feel extremely lonely I silently hang with a group of "friends" I am shy and don't know how to have a good conversation with them I'm afraid I will sound retarded some days when I'm in a good mood I can have a really good conversation with them and joke around other days it's horrible I don't know how to socialize with them Sorry it was long

Signed: How Do I Socialize with the Kids at My New Boarding School?

Dear How Do I Socialize with the Kids at My New Boarding School?,

TeenHealthFX is absolutely fine with the length of your question, so there is no need to apologize. Your feelings and struggles are important and you are welcome to make as much room for them as you need to.

It sounds like one of your struggles in making friends is that it could be hard for you to imagine why other people would like you. When you talk about being “ugly,” a “nerd” and so worried about how you will come across it suggests that you are not seeing yourself in a positive way. And if you can’t see wonderful things about who you are, it is going to be very hard to imagine why other people would genuinely think you are a great person.

All that said, FX thinks that it would be really important for you to start to connect to the positive things about yourself. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws and limitations we could focus on. However, by being overly focused on these parts of ourselves we won’t feel good about ourselves or feel comfortable getting close to others. It is important to focus on our strengths and to be compassionate and forgiving about our own flaws (since everybody has them!). It is also helpful to remind ourselves that we can often see ourselves in a much more critical, negative light than other people are.

While we do think changing the way we see ourselves can be helpful, we also appreciate that this can be easier said than done and is often best addressed with the help of a trusted adult. Whether you find a teacher or counselor at your school to connect with, or even a private therapist, it would be helpful for you to have a trusted, caring, non-judgmental adult in your life to offer you the guidance and support you need to deal with this issue.

FX would also invite you to focus on belonging to a group of friends at school rather than trying to fit in. Fitting in means changing who we are so we are accepted by a group. Belonging means being who we are and accepted by our friends for the real and true versions of ourselves. Belonging is what will help you to ultimately feel good about yourself and your relationships.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX