• Making Friends

A shy teen feels she isn’t popular with male or female friends

Published: November 28, 2014 | By | 6 Replies Continue Reading

Being popular isn’t as important as cultivating friendships with one or two people whose company you enjoy.



I am naturally a very shy person. I feel like a failure because both of my older siblings are popular and I am not, nor do I have a lot of friends. I am in high school and faced with groups of friends, and I get depressed every time I see these groups and think I’m not part of a group.

I also get depressed because I do not have any guy friends but really want some to be able to have a boyfriend soon. Guys do not notice me. I want to have that feeling of friendship.

Signed, Sue Ellen


Hi Sue Ellen,

One of the biggest reasons teen girls feel unhappy about their social life is because they have unrealistic, and often attainable, ideas of how they should be and what everyone else is thinking and feeling.

It’s the same as a girl who looks at a picture on the cover of a magazine and thinks she’s ugly based on a photo that’s been air brushed and photo shopped to make the model look taller and thinner with her teeth whitened, acne removed, breasts enhanced, eyes and lips enlarged, and nose shrunk, etc. The model doesn’t even look like herself.

You have an idea of how your friendships and popularity should look and how if you had that popularity, you’d feel about yourself. Maybe your ideas came from your older siblings, TV, movies or books, or maybe from observing your peers. When we tell ourselves how we should or shouldn’t be, we box ourselves in to unrealistic expectations and limit our individuality and creativity.

Teenagers can be fairly skilled at looking confident yet feeling insecure at the same time, especially popular kids. Many girls sitting at the “popular” lunch table have told me that they felt like frauds or like they didn’t belong. One girl worried that at any moment one of the girls might say, “Why are you sitting here, you’re not popular?” No one looking at her could tell she was so scared and insecure. Girls just like you probably wished they could be popular like her.

Focus on spending time with people you enjoy, regardless of whether they’re part of a popular group or whether they have no other friends. Teens are lucky if they can form connections with one or two solid, friends who like them for whom they are, girls who don’t care about social status or what being seen with this or that person can do for her reputation.

Having guy friends doesn’t necessarily translate into having a boyfriend but guys can be wonderful, platonic friends, too. If you start talking to guys about friend-type things—school, class, homework, movies, music, sports, etc.—you’ll realize how easy and stress-free guy-friends can be compared to girl-friends. I don’t think you’ll feel satisfied dating a boy just to have a boyfriend. I think you’d be happy with a boyfriend who makes your heart feel like it’s dancing inside your chest.

For now, if you can work on talking to classmates who seem kind and friendly, and if you make efforts to start conversations, even if being shy makes that difficult, your friends-to-be will better get to know who you are.

Good luck! Hope this is somewhat helpful in reframing your thinking.

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 (6)

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  1. wanda says:

    Hey im in high school too and I was just as shy as you but then I met this girl (my best friend now) and that changed everything. I started to become more social and showing more who I actually am. And to think all I did was say a simple “hi” with a ftiendly smile. Maybe that all you have to do say “hi” and be your self. And you shouldn’t care if you’re popular or not half of those “popular” kids you see always smiling and happy are actually faking all that.. They have to pretend someone they aren’t just so other people would accept them. That’s why it’s better to be yourself. Just be your self and a friendly girl that’ll help you go through high school. Bye and take care c: hope I helped a little.

  2. Rhea says:

    I have friends,Bt i dont have anything to talk with them ,i just talk with them about hmewrk.And i think they find it boring.I really dont know wt to do?.I did a lot of research,bt stll i cant find a topic to talk about.Plz help me and give me some advice.


    • zara says:

      Ohh dear .. Just concentrat whats ur telent ur goals the beautyfull thing wich is secretly hiddn in u ur hobbies. Which makes ur perents feels proud on it go and share ur ideas with your pals then make some plans to treet them with ur moms made spacial dish make them thay will feel happy comfertable with ur perents too interduse them with shearing good qualitys of them

  3. Rita says:

    I remember being a shy teenager. However, I got lucky and was able to go to college, the first one in my family. I learned to be assertive and have had several successful careers.

    Don’t worry about the boys. In high school, it’s good to concentrate on yourself and figure out what your interests are and what you want to do to make a living.

    As you mature, boys will notice you. When you know yourself well, then you will able to pick out a positive partner to share your life with.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  4. holly says:

    It’s so hard to be a teen and worry about fitting in. I’m older now and have a rich and wonderful group of friends but as a teenager I was the shy one and always felt different. I’ve learned that I’m shy but I’m also an introvert and now that I know myself better so much more makes sense. And I so agree that you can never tell how someone feels on the inside from what they show on the outside. Good luck.

  5. Charlotte says:

    Hi Sue Ellen. I’m not going to mention what you should do or not do. I’ll just explain a few things to you..

    You see those popular girls, with a popular group of friends, with a popular nice looking boyfriend.. all their world that seems so unreachable, so cool and so awesome?…
    Well I was in that popular group of friends.. we ruled not just our own separate high schools.. but we ruled college..!!!! AWESOME

    And you know what? It get’s BORING. Being a robot in their little meaningless lives. Where you must act a certain way or you get rejected. You must date a certain kinda guy or you get judged. Doing this and doing that just so we can all try and please each other.
    Really you want to be a part of that? It’s not hard.. just dress the best you can dress so you look the same, speak the way they want you to speak, act like they want you to act , and become part of the mould and you’ll fit right in… And it does look funI admit, but being a robot isn’t fun, we want you to think we are having fun but we aren’t. In a world where the girls are mean and the boys aren’t at all respectful.

    Hunny, life is short. Life is about being happy! Be happy with who you are, be happy about your talents whether it’s that you are really good at writing plays, really good at baking muffins, really good at anything that you can think off! Everyone has a talent, some talents you can really show them off but some are less noticeable.. maybe you blow the best soap bubbles… who cares what is is! It makes you unique!! Do what makes you happy. Being shy will make you a better listener than most people, a better observer of the world. Make it your strength and not your weakness.

    Don’t try and change to fit the mould, and become a robot. Be you, because you is good enough and you is even better!

    No one interesting that anyone has ever read about had the moto ‘ I succeeded because I was popular in school and all the guys fancied me’ however Coco Chanel the very prestigious designer said this: ‘ In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different’

    You go look in the mirror and you tell yourself that being different is by being you! everyone is unique and you should just accept that that is you! Improve what makes you YOU!

    And friends wise, if you aren’t happy with the ones now… find new ones! Invite them to grab something to eat ( everybody has to eat sometimes ), it’s easy, it’s not that complicated.. if they say no … smile and move on to another group! Maybe someone will be happy that you asked them! There are plenty of people in your position and find people who will be there whether you are happy or sad, funny or frustrated.
    The criteria for friends are friends who help you, friends you can rely on, friends that make you happy, that make you laugh and that are trustworthy, the list is obviously longer but you get what I mean. Friends that ‘are popular’ should be at the bottom of this very long list.

    I would even advise you to stay away.. if you want to grow into a unique, calm, thoughtful and creative individual… you should actually avoid them! Be strong and instead of idealizing them, idealize yourself!

    And boys? Boys smell ( they actually do smell a lot sometimes) ,

    Course they look at you! But boys that will be good to you and that will make you happy , are often the guys that YOU don’t look at , because you are too busy looking at other popular boys… to notice the ones that do look! And you want a boyfriend that will look at you and think she’s different! thats why I love her.

    Hang in there darling , be you, be safe and be good, you’ll be happier like this.
    Love Charlyxoxo

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