By Ava Kesler
School is meant to give us an education, but it is also a huge social aspect as well. It exposes us to so many different types of people. This can be good and bad. While it is great to learn to deal with others, it is also extremely easy to get caught up in the desire to fit in.
Having a sense of belonging is really important for a positive school experience. There are a lot of simple ways to find your group. This could be through sports, clubs, group projects, and simply who you sit by in class.
However, sometimes things just work out in just the certain way to where you don’t fit in with any of these potential groups. You know if you’re this person, no need to go into depth describing all those feelings in this article.
I’m not going to devalue the importance of having a friend group at school. It can truly impact your experience with your studies.
The first thing you can try to do to find your friend group after the aforementioned fails, is reach out to people. This is super super hard. Talking to someone who is part of a clear and close clique feels illegal, but the worst they can do is brush you off- big deal. If there’s an event coming up at school, a pep rally, dance, fundraiser event, et., then you could try reaching out to someone in the group that you feel closest to and ask if they’re doing anything afterwards. Strength in numbers so if you have a friend you can ask together or ask for the both of you. To imply you’re not just asking the person in the group you’re interested in, but also if you can join the entire group, ask the question in a way that implies this, like what’re you and such and such doing after the pep rally this Friday? Then take it from there.
This is by far one of the hardest and scariest things to do. The key is to remember: confidence. You could ask the weirdest question with the most awkward wording in the world, but if you do it with confidence (a loud and clear voice, posture, casual jargon, chill attitude, and overall like you lowkey don’t really care about anything and nothing bothers you) then people are just naturally going to agree with you.
The hard thing about fitting into a group is that they often have a longer history together than with you. People aren’t usually nice enough to make an extra effort to make a newcomer feel comfortable. This is why you have to make sure that if you’re going to try to join a group, make sure it’s one that you can picture yourself being happy in. To be included in their conversations, you’re going to have to pick up on their mannerism fast. Inside jokes are inevitably awkward, but if there’s gossip about something, naturally having a reaction similar to theirs is going to make things a lot easier. For one, it makes you happier in their company because you can relate to them on a personal level even without much of a history together. And secondly, it will naturally make them more welcoming of you since they will feel like they can relate to you more. You may not fit in perfectly, and that’s ok, but at the very basis you should have a somewhat similar attitude towards life if it’s to work out.
Another way to find your place at school is to make a friend group. This is one of the hardest tasks to take on. Most people that you would want to form a group with are already part of their own separate friend groups. Inviting your favorites from each group is pretty low on success rate. But if you all have a common task, things get more promising. Planning a club event and doing a group project in class are two great ways to open the window to forming your own new friend group. Common interests and goals are the true foundation of friend groups. Even if people have completely different personalities, the common underlying goals of their personalities or circumstances will suffice to hold them together.
Ultimately, friend groups are a great way to improve your school experience, but it’s not always as easy as that. Groups are not necessary, and you can still have amazing teen years without a set group. One great way to have that sense of belonging without committing to a group is finding at least one person in each of your classes that you can befriend. Just one person who you relate to is all you need to feel accepted. Someone you can walk with or chat to in class, while not the same as having an entire group, will still give you similar opportunities to have a sense of a pack.
In the end, all friend groups will dissolve. People will go off to college or whatever’s next in their lives, and soon commonalities that held the group together will cease. People will meet new people, new groups will form, and the cycle will continue. Don’t get caught up in feeling like you absolutely have to have a friend group. If no one genuinely seems like someone you’d want to call your friend, there’s no reason to waste your time on someone who you already knew wasn’t your cup of tea. This is a really hard lesson, but you can still have an enjoyable social life at school without necessarily belonging to a set in stone clique. With this in mind, you can develop strong independence and confidence that will not only help you deal with life’s curveballs, but just might attract a friend group to you itself.
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