• Making Friends

A young teen feels ugly and lacks confidence

Published: January 31, 2014 | Last Updated: January 31, 2014 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading
If you are having trouble making friends, acting with more confidence might be a first step.



I am a 13-year-old girl in 8th grade. I switched from the regular school system to a homeschool/ independent study school in 7th grade because of lack or friends, and irritating teachers.

Here (at the new school) we have small classes with 5-7 kids in them, but I can never seem to make friends with anyone. All my family teases me about it and I’m lonely. I’m sick of having no one to talk to, no one to hang out with and more.

I’m really shy, quiet and i consider myself ugly. I really need help but everywhere i go is the same advice that doesn’t do anything: Be more outgoing, talk more, and don’t call yourself ugly. Please just any other advice you could give me would be great! Thank you.

Signed, Vikki


Hi Vikki,

I’m so sorry you’re having trouble making friends in your new school. It seems to me that making friends in a school as small as yours would be difficult, under the best of circumstances, because there are so few other students.

Most girls your age feel insecure about themselves, even if they act confident. I bet that’s hard for you to believe, but it’s true. I never knew this until I an adult, and talked with others who I thought were so popular and perfect when they were teenagers. Turns out, they thought them same thing about me, but I felt very much like you do. We were all insecure, trying not to let our peers know we were so insecure.

Can you tell your family it hurts your feelings when they make fun of your lack of friends? They probably don’t know how much it bothers you, and do tell them that their teasing doesn’t help you feel more confident to make friends.

Some people are more shy than others. That’s just the way they’re born, so they have to work harder than others to push themselves out of their comfort zone to make friends. I’m not sure if your school has clubs or sports, but those activities can help you make friends with other kids who share your common interests.

Have you ever heard the term “fake it until you make it”? Middle and high school students are usually attracted to kids who are confident, so you might have to practice acting more secure than you feel inside. Most friends start off as acquaintances, and then deeper friendships develop as you get to know the people better, so even if you’re just hanging out to study, a friendship can develop over time.

I bet you’re not ugly, but those words don’t help if you feel that way inside. When I was younger, I thought I was ugly until a therapist suggested I look at pictures of myself as a child. When I saw the pictures, I was able to see myself in a different light. If that doesn’t help, try to focus on a part of your body that you do like. Do you have attractive big eyes? What about your hair? Are your hands pretty? Your fingernails? Do your wrists look good with bracelets? I know if you look hard enough, you’ll find something attractive about yourself and concentrate on loving the attractive part of yourself and showing it off.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing works, you might be suffering from depression. Ask your parents if you can talk to a professional therapist to help you be less shy and feel less ugly. Sometimes talking to a neutral third party is a great way to learn skills and feel better about yourself. Check back and let us know how you’re doing.

Amy Feld*

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

**No information provided here or elsewhere on this blog is intended as medical advice. The blog focuses on everyday friendship problems.

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Comments (4)

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  1. lottie says:

    Hi Vikki,
    How sad you think yourself ugly. Is it all of you or could it be your thumb or is it your eyebrows or kneecaps that are ugly??? Which specific part of you is making you so unhappy?? It is your body, we are all different. You have a long life ahead of you so start thinking differently about yourself.Smile more.
    Lets pretend you have an ugly thumb… For a start smile at people they probably smile back they wont notice your ugly thumb. Try it out first with an older person, say a pensioner. You will make their day. People look at others as a whole. What is ugly to one might be beautiful to others. Next time you are at school look at someone who you think is beautiful, and I bet they might have small feet or thin hair or big hands or bite their nails or spots.Then look at someone who you think is ugly and I bet they will have something nice about them.Also remember beauty is temporary in a life time.It is impossible to be physically beautiful all of the time.This is where personality takes over,it is not temporary.
    Years ago I had a friend who was considered beautiful I used to dye her hair blonde every few weeks,everybody loved her.All the boys liked her she had them crawling on their hands and knees for dates.She smoked drank and took drugs. I used to go out with her like a spare part I doubt I was ever noticed because she took all the attention.But she could be really mean in a quiet sort of way making me feel rubbish.My confidence was nil. As the years progressed and we went our separate ways we lost touch.She contacted me out of the blue and asked to meet up .The smoking, drugs and drink had taken over her life. We were the same age but she looked about 110 yrs old to my 46yrs she died shortly after our meeting but not before she told me how SHE had thought I was beautiful and that she had always envied me.She had lost her looks and had nothing else, not even a personality which costs nothing.All that I could see of my old friend were two very sad eyes deep in her worn out once beautiful face.
    I hope this is some help to you. Lottie

  2. annhie says:

    I think it is normal for all teens to feel like that at one or time or another, what isn’t normal is how it is affecting you.You may lack confidence, but it shouldn’t mean you lack it in yourself.You are beautiful dont say that to your self if you think you are ugly then you are but remember you are beautiful when they say u are. One thing I know is that no one is ugly. and those people who look at u and don’t say anything would mean how pretty u are. Your beautiful ok, so don’t pressure yourself, just be yourself and you will be surprised at what effect it have on you and others.

  3. Melinda says:

    Vikki, I’m sorry to hear that you’re having a rough time. I was the same way at age 13 and now at 30 years old, not much has changed. So I don’t really know what to say about making friends but I will ask you…what are your hobbies/interests? Do you like to draw or paint? Play instruments? Is there a sport you enjoy? You can also try exploring some new hobbies and interests for fun, that might help you to meet others you can connect with.

    I understand what you’re going through…it is very difficult to feel awkward and ugly and worse, to feel completely alone. It is particularly hard when your family isn’t sensitive or understanding to what you’re feeling. Can you talk honestly with your parents/guardians about this? If my daughter was having this issue, I would try to be more helpful. My family picked on me a lot growing up and it affected my self-esteem, as well as my confidence.

    Maybe try talking with your mom or another adult you can trust. Ask them if they were ever shy or felt ugly when they were a kid, and what they did to overcome it. Another suggestion is reading books about building self-esteem and saying daily affirmations…for example: “I am smart”, “I am a good person” “I am beautiful in my own way”. Congratulate yourself when you do well on a test and when you are kind to others.

    If you are allowed to wear makeup or nail polish, you can do that, but try to enhance your looks instead of covering up the real you. Maybe some mascara and clear lip gloss for a simple everyday look. I’m not saying that you should become obsessive about your appearance but perhaps little things can help you to feel more confident in your beauty. Just keep it age-appropriate. At 13 you are old enough to start experimenting with basic makeup and cute hairstyles.

    I have a much younger cousin who is chubby and sometimes our family picks on her because of it. She is your age. I’ve been talking to her, trying to encourage her and build her up. I also gave her some gifts on her birthday last year…a book about self-esteem for young girls and a little gold box with some “girly” stuff like lip gloss, earrings and purple nail polish since purple is her favorite color.

    Remember, Vikki, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You might FEEL ugly but that doesn’t mean you ARE ugly. Some people have no issues with self-confidence while others have to work at it. You might be one of the people who has to work at it, but you can do it! You just need some encouragement and some help.

  4. Carol O. says:

    Hello Vikki, I think every word of Amy’s suggestions will be helpful. guess all I wish for you to hear is: If we think we are beautiful, we are. If we think we are ugly, we are. I was just remarking to a friend the other day as we were watching a commercial on television. I asked, “Have you noticed that all the women on tv, particularly the commercials all look alike, no variety? She answered, Well, it’s what sells and gets viewer attention. So those of us who don’t look like all those women who seemed they are stepped out of the same cracked eggshell, we can feel like the ugly duckling, remember that children’s book? The value of human beings is that we are all different and we are, unless twins or triplets, etc., uniquely who we are as individuals. Anyone can look at me and judge me and I will survive. However, if I do it to myself I may not be happy with who I am. Try to look at yourself as the unique and most likely lovely girl you are. I wish you a friend or many who can become your friends. Best to you! Carol O.

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