• Keeping Friends

Making high school friends after a move

Published: September 8, 2014 | By | 1 Reply Continue Reading
A 15-year-old can seem to fit it at her new school after a move.



I’m 15 and recently moved from Wales to Ireland. In Wales, I was popular, the class clown, and had many friends. I am very shy when it comes to meeting new people and have no confidence (this may be due to my weight problem). I trust nobody, even my family.

You’re probably wondering how I got popular. Well, when I first moved to Wales (I was born in Ireland then moved to Wales then back to Ireland) people would sit with me and encourage me to talk and chill, but nobody does that in Ireland. I’m so tired of being alone.

I come home from school and go to my room and cried because nobody wants to be around me. I tried talking to them but they all do the same thing: reply, then turn around and walk away.

I’m not a bad person. I listen in class. I do my homework. I work really hard and am extremely artistic. I used to be optimistic and be happy and carefree, and was at peace with the world. Now I’m angry and depressed. I don’t cut myself because I find that cutting is pointless. But sometimes I just feel like leaving and never coming back. My family is no support. My mother always makes up excuses why they don’t talk to me. My sisters, who usually bully me and call me fat, try to be nice sometimes but I can’t trust them. I just put on my headphones and sit in my room and cry. I still talk to my friends in Wales but not very often because it’s hard to Skype them and Facebook chats are not satisfying enough.

I don’t like to be nasty to anybody. I don’t do bad things but nobody will talk to me and I feel like giving up on life. Please help me. Should I just wait until university (two years)? I really have no other option.

Signed, Becky


Hi Becky,

Moving and switching schools is hard for just about everyone. Being shy, not having confidence, and moving to a new country must feel overwhelming.

Part of your frustration comes from people not reaching out to you. I’m not sure how old you were the first time you moved. I suspect the age of your classmates, not anything about you or them, may be the reason that people no longer reach out. Teenagers often have so much going on in their own lives, they don’t have the time or energy to even think about encouraging others, even the friends they already have. This is a great opportunity for you to rely on your own inner strength. When we expect others to take the lead and do something for us, we give away our power. Sometimes we forget just how strong and resilient we are.

Sometimes teens perceive shy people as being aloof or stuck up, when the opposite is true. If you’re tense in your classes, that may look like anger to those who don’t know you yet. Additionally, girls are usually drawn to friendly people with common interests. I bet most of your classmates don’t know what you like to do. You don’t need to wait and hope they will ask. That probably sounds frightening to a shy new girl in school like you, but I’m going to give you some suggestions.

1. Smile at others and make eye contact. 

You’ll show people you’re approachable. You might have to remind yourself if you’re used to avoiding people. Keeping a rubber band around your wrist, or writing a tiny S for smile on your hand might help you remember.

If this feels too scary, just smile and make eye contact with one girl who seems kind and looks like she’d be a good friend. The next day, try two people. You can select the same girl you tried in the first day or pick new ones—then 3, then 4, until you get to 5. If the girl looks away or doesn’t smile back, don’t assume she doesn’t like you or that there’s something wrong with you. She might be just as shy as you and hiding it, like lots of shy people do.

2. Talk to one potential friend, just like you’ve done with smiling.

You can even choose the girl you smiled at.  Some safe topics are: school work, teachers, sports, TV, music or hobbies. You might prefer to compliment the person. “I like your haircut.” “Those are nice shoes, where did you get them?”

Asking questions is another approach. Make sure you ask open-ended questions, those the person can’t answer with “yes” or “no” or just one word. “What do you guys do on the weekends?” When she answers you can follow up with, “That sounds like fun. I haven’t been out since I moved here, I’d love to come out next time you go.”  Just as you started with one person and worked up to five with smiling, do the same with talking. Of course you can smile and talk to more than five people, and I hope you do when you’re more comfortable.

3. Don’t give up on your family.  

Is your mom aware that your sisters are harsh on you like that? Pick a moment when everyone is calm and getting along with each other to let them know how upset you get when they call you names.

4. If you have a school counselor, therapist or psychologist, please talk to her about your feelings of depression.

You don’t deserve, and shouldn’t have to feel so sad and alone. If resources don’t exist at your school, ask your mother to take you to a therapist or doctor.

You definitely shouldn’t wait until college to have friends. Now is the time to step outside your comfort zone and practice the social skills you’ll need in two years, when potential friends might have even less time to reach out to you. Whether you go to college with your old friends or not, being comfortable with others is important.

You are friendly, kind, popular and a class clown, you just haven’t been able to show your new classmates yet.

Signed, *Amy Feld

*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

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  1. Mrs. Chen says:

    Hi Becky,
    Something else you might want to try is to join an after school club, a choir group or a volunteer group. You want to be part of a group where members need to interact with one another because they are working on a project together. If you just keep showing up to meetings and being positive and helpful, people will be attracted to you, no matter your weight. Just remember – friendship takes time. So don’t pressure yourself or anyone else to become instant friends. That makes you look desperate and is a turnoff for most people. So be patient. Just keep showing up with your positive attitude. I know you’ll make friends. You’ve done it before, you’ll do it again.

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