• Making Friends

Sitting Alone At The High School Lunch Table

Published: August 7, 2014 | Last Updated: May 29, 2022 By | 20 Replies Continue Reading
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A young man entering his sophomore year worries about being alone at the high school lunch table.

QUESTION

Hello,

I’m a 15-year-old guy and this is the first time I’m writing on this forum. So, it’s summer vacation right now and I’m worrying about my junior year in high school.

In my sophomore year, I was very lonely eating lunches by myself. Every day I would dread lunch because everybody had a friend or someone to talk to while I sat by myself.

The problem is that my moving around from place to place has messed up my social life. When I was younger I remember being a happy, enthusiastic child. I wasn’t afraid to talk to people but now I am very self-conscious when I’m having a conversation. I start thinking about what this person is going to think about me and then I’m always sad and trying to avoid people.

Signed,  Mohammed

ANSWER

Dear Mohammed,

Lunch is a stressful time for lots of high schoolers. You aren’t alone in that feeling that you are sitting alone at the high school lunch table.

You may think everyone has friend(s) at lunch but even the ones who sit with others sometimes feel like they don’t belong at the table. I can understand how moving around might make you feel self- conscious.

It sounds like you might be overthinking your conversations with your peers, and not allowing conversations to flow naturally. I suggest you figure out a strategy for Day One of your junior year, since sometimes first-day lunch tables become every day tables. Here are some ideas:

1. Figure out where you would like to sit. Choose people you know from class or activities, kids who seem kind, friendly and open.

2. If they say no, smile, hold your head high, and try another table. You might be wondering if I’m nuts thinking you’d ever want to try another table, but high schoolers have told me that’s how they made friends when starting a new school. You might also try to find kids to sit with who seem like they could use a friend, too. I knew a girl who had similar concerns as yours and she introduced herself to new students and sat with them, which helped her feel more confident as well as helpful.

3. Think of safe topics of conversation ahead of time: sports, movies, music, books, classes, teachers.

4. People love to talk about themselves and feel like you’re interested in them. Make eye contact, smile, and show an interest in what they’re saying. Sometimes asking a question or an opinion is a great way to do this.

5. Try to smile at people as much as possible and make eye contact—even when you feel uncomfortable, even when you feel shy. You’ll come across as kind and friendly.

Good luck with junior year! I hope it turns out much better than you are expecting~

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.


Some prior posts on The Friendship Blog about making friend at high school:

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Category: MAKING FRIENDS

Comments (20)

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  1. Alyssa says:

    I know exactly what you’re going through…i walk around the school or i sit in the bathroom the whole time.. i refuse to sit by myself its humiliating..at first i thought okay its not so bad but then you go in there and you see all those people just starring at you. ughhh i hate this.nobody wants to be friends with me except boys and that’s irraitating cause it makes me look like a hoe or something….i’m in the 9th grade and i have 3 more years to go of lonlyness and depression

    • Lucky says:

      Oh my days. I know how you feel ! I’m like the boy version of you. None of the boys want to be my friends. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I mean. I’m not perfect at sports but I’m intelligent and they think I’m weird because I don’t like football and I don’t perv on girls 🙁

      • Derrick owens says:

        I know how it feels I go through this every day so I just don’t eat lunch my school switched my lunch around and I lost the people I sat with so I don’t even eat lunch but I don’t care I just study and try to ignore the bullies

    • Ashley says:

      I feel the exact same. I usually walk around looking like I’m busy doing something and I actually have friends to sit with. It really sucks.

  2. Harris says:

    How is that a bad thing? I have to deal with bullies always trying to sit with me at lunch every day! It gets so bad that i’ve started telling them “Hi, welcome to the my little pony fan table” but they NEVER LISTEN!!! If only kids knew what it was like to be like me. Could we trade places?

  3. sarah says:

    what you experiencing it is what about I am to experience next month when my school starts. I am going to move in to london and I don’t know how am I gonna cope there.

    • jeremy says:

      Sarah, don’t worry about it I’ve moved from London to Houston and now in my junior year. To be honest it sucks here, the school is crazy 2,500+ people and I can’t remember a single name. I envy you hahaha the friends and experiences I had in London will stay with me forever, you will meet lots of nice people who will want to talk to you. London is a very diverse and different place compared to the US, I’m sure you will stumble across the right people, just be friendly and nice.

  4. Leeanne says:

    I think this is a good lesson for parents to teach their children. My son is very outgoing and I asked him from the time he was in kindergarten to always invite kids who were alone to play with his friends. He did it several times and it has paid off for him in many unexpected ways. He is starting university in a week and he still understands to this day why others should never be left out or ignored.

    • Liz says:

      Leeanne, tell your son for me that sometimes it is that little bit of kindness that makes all the difference for those less popular kids. My own daughter did this very thing this week for someone and that made me so proud.

  5. Liz says:

    Mohhamed, if you would end up alone again this year (and I both hope and don’t expect that you will) try visiting the guidance office for suggestions on different options. There might be some other kids that are also having this same issue as it is not uncommon and sometimes a guidance counselor can help to bring you together. This is actually a big worry for many kids, don’t feel that you are alone in this.

  6. Krizzy says:

    Sometimes, you need to make the first move to make friends with others. It is easy, just a simple smile and simple talk no need to do much effort. When you feel that someone is not interested with making friends with you, just find another one, always remember that there’s so many people around you and they’re all different from each other. Just always put a smile on your face and think positive always even when you’re having a negative situation =) always pray.

  7. syifa says:

    To easy make friends are in Indonesia, because they are friendly.

  8. Linda says:

    We moved around a lot when I was a kid in school. The worst move was to Florida. I found it very hard to make friends here. I decided to join the Drama class. Was in a few shows and found new friends. Even if your don’t like acting, there is always things that need to be done back stage. Wishing you luck.

  9. kate says:

    In 1th to 4th grade I was a loner. People think I’m mean looking so people really don’t talk to me that much.
    middle school people got to see me
    they were mean to me.i did have friends only 3. I really don’t want to be a loner. can someone give me tips.

    • syifa says:

      Follow activities in school. Follow extracurricular or school organization that you love or fit your hobby. Because friendships are usually more tightly in organization than in class. Read a book or a novel attractive in public places (outside the classroom) with a relaxed position and don’t too serious. It would make you look interested. Show that you can. Don’t you show your fear. Be friendly. Don’t forget to smile. Frequently share and help. Giving things or foods. Invite your friends to your home or place of fun. Do something with music. Everyone loves music.

  10. nat says:

    Im still scared because went I was 1th though 4th I really just sat alone and when I made friends they were fake . I really don’t have people skills. In middle every one though I was mean looking and mean. Then when people got to see who I was they were mean to me. And I did have 3 friends in middle school. But I really don’t want to be a loner.

  11. Leeanne says:

    Hi Mohammed,

    Your situation makes me particularly sad because you’re young.
    I have a daughter who had the same problem and a friend of mine suggested to get her into a hobby that only she enjoyed….not our entire family. She got into acting and made friends who not only loved the same thing she did but some of them ended up at her school in the fall. She now has 4 very close friends who do everything with her. She’s still shy but she’s not alone anymore. I really hope this helps you. It doesn’t matter what activity you do as long as you like it and are forced to engage other people.
    Please keep us informed…your problem makes mine seem so trivial.

  12. Laura says:

    My advice is to spot out an empty seat at a table where you want to sit, smile and say hi, as you sit down. This is what I advised my shy daughter when she started Jr. High, and it worked out well. Don’t give the other person the power to say “no.” You have just as much right to be there. Be confident like you belong.

  13. Donna, aka GGG says:

    I had the same problem. I finally said, “I’m fine with this drama” and went to sit with my back against the nearest lockers. Imagine my surprise as the rest of the people who were left out of the cool table came to join me for lunch. That’s how I made new friends in a rough high school.

  14. I agree with that answer. We need to make people attracted to us is with a smile. Try to be funny, humorous or stare at people to greet with a smile. Make yourself look friendly but still indifferent. Then people will be attracted to you. Because that kind of person is a person who is not timid or weak, but rather respected and liked. Try to friendly and give the attention or help to the people. Thanks 🙂

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