• Keeping Friends

My friends are very judgmental

Published: March 13, 2017 | By | 3 Replies Continue Reading
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A teen asks how to handle judgmental friends at school.



I have a problem with my friends. I feel stupid for asking about it because if it was anyone else, I would tell them to do what makes them happy. But I feel like my situation is different.

Lately, I have been taking part in a school play and I’ve met some really cool people that are very different than my normal friendship group. And I feel like my normal friendship group has been putting me to the side and sometimes make me feel very judged. They are quite judgmental people but other times they are so nice and I fit in with them.

I want to hang out with both groups but I don’t want to have a falling out with my regular friends or be judged for it. I’m really stuck and feel a bit low.

Signed, Mara


Hi Mara,

Congratulations on being part of the school play. What a great opportunity to have fun and meet new people. Friendship groups can be a wonderful part of the high school experience, but can also be limiting in terms of individual growth and exploration.

You say that your regular group can be judgmental and you don’t want to be judged. Unfortunately that’s not completely in your control. You can try to conform to the group standards by conforming to what they say and do, but that’s neither a guarantee you won’t be judged nor a recipe for happiness.

Wanting to fit in is a fairly universal desire. One of the best ways to fit in is to find others who are accepting of who you are, friends with whom you can be yourself, speaking and acting freely without fear of judgment.

Some people are lucky enough to be comfortable in their unique individuality while they are young, while others need decades or even a lifetime to feel comfortable in their own skin. You seem to be a strong young woman with a good sense of what you want. Your truest friends will embrace you for who you are and not want or ask you to change to fit in with what they want: They won’t make you change who you are or choose sides. Only you can decide who deserves to be in your inner circle.

Being your true self can take courage and won’t always feel good in the present. I don’t know many adults who look back on their high school days and wish they had spent more energy quashing their authentic selves to fit in with a group. From your letter, I’m sure you’ll figure this out.

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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Comments (3)

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  1. Ben says:

    Life is about choosing and letting go. Let’s say you had a best friend who told you they had a wonderful opportunity but in exchange they were going to miss out on something. What would you tell them to do? You and I and every person on this planet are humans that are part of a group but are also individuals. Your friends are not able to give you happiness and fulfillment, only you can do that. Your asking a grown-up question and deserve the truth. True friends will be cheering you on and want the best for you. Develop your talents, explore every opportunity. The happier you are the healthier friends you will attract. Life is not a “dress rehersal.” When I was your age I really believed the goal in life was to have as many friends as possible. I was the “people pleaser” type. If I could magically talk to that boy and convince him of the folly of his ways and shake some reality into him I would. My hope for you is that you will “be all you can be.” Being in a play helps build self-confidence. The more self-confidence, the better choices. The better choices the happier you will be. The happier you be the better choices you make. Bravo!!!

  2. Sandra says:

    Mara, I agree with the answers from both AmyFeld and “the other” Irene. Your post hit a chord with me because I was in drama group and plays when I was in school. Those were among the best experiences in my life.

    But I found the same thing you did, too, meaning that the kids I met in drama group were a lot different from the other kids who weren’t in school plays, or the arts in general. They were creative people, and not like the kids who favored sports and worried about being popular.

    Being in a school play is a fantastic experience, and I hope you enjoy every minute of it. Being on stage gives you confidence that you will be able to draw on for the rest of your life. So try not to worry about what the other group thinks.

    You will find throughout your life that “judgmental” friends are not the best people to hang around with. I especially like what Amy Feld said here: “One of the best ways to fit in is to find others who are accepting of who you are, friends with whom you can be yourself, speaking and acting freely without fear of judgment.” Those words are very true, and worth remembering, no matter what life stage you find yourself in.

    FYI, I am still in touch with a few of my drama friends. They went on to be very successful, creative people.

  3. Irene (the other one) says:

    I have a feeling your friends may be envious of you getting a role in the school play, and wanting you to quit. Who knows, you could do really well and be praised for it. you might even become ‘famous’ – something they’d like too, but can’t get because they are not in the play.

    It might help them back off a little, if you just say: “but, you might be in the school play next year, or some other time, and make it REALLY big yourself!”

    I’m laughing to myself now, as I’ve had some experience of this too, in that, ‘puffing’ up a jealous person about their own possibilities, can sometimes stop them from dragging others down. Just a thought. Hope the play goes well for all of you. 🙂

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