Teenage introvert feels alienated when others seem to make instant “friends” so effortlessly

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Hi,
I’m a teenage girl who has stumbled across your website, and it’s been both surprising and oddly comforting to read people’s posts about their personal experiences and to be able to relate to them.

Lately I’ve been taking part in a few of drama and music based intensive courses, designed for talented young people by highly esteemed organizations in the UK and, accordingly, I feel very privileged to have been given these opportunities.

However, these courses also involve being given a very short space of time to get to know whole new groups of people, a lot of whom are brimming with confidence and seem to find it very easy to interact with each other. One of the courses lasted almost 2 weeks in a residential environment, and involved 300 young people- I couldn’t wait to get away! This was in stark contrast to everyone around me, who all seemed to be having the time of their lives.

I often find myself feeling lost, and almost unworthy of my place there, as if I got in by accident. I do get to know a few people fairly well, but this still leaves me feeling alienated from the bigger group of tight friends which always seems to form.

I tend to dwell on this quite a lot, especially with the added pressure of Facebook- showing me how other people have managed to form bonds and stay in touch- and altogether it leaves me feeling slightly depressed and drained.

The pressure of constantly feeling like I needed to meet more people and make an impression just became too much.

This feeling of alienation is a very recent one, that I haven’t really experienced in school before, and has suddenly sprung up with the arrival of these courses. It’s really started worrying me for the future: university, drama school etc, which will seemingly be similar environments.

I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I can’t help being introverted- it’s who I am and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

However I really would appreciate any advice on how to deal with these situations, as I can foresee more of them in the future.

I also appreciate that this may have come out as one long rant, and I duly apologize.

Many Thanks
16 year old, UK.

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Miller

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17 Comments

  1. On my blog a while back, I wrote about a list called “How to Care for Your Introvert,” (click my name and search for ‘introvert’ to find it), and two of the best suggestions were:

    “Enable them to find one best friend who has similar interests and abilities, encourage this relationship even if the friend moves.

    “Do not push them to make lots of friends.”

    After reading that, I made an effort to concentrate on just a couple of close friendships, and build truly deep relationships with them, to the point where we know we can count on each other for anything. Having fewer friends can be an advantage in that sense, not a liability. The few friendships you developed while others were partying in crowds have a better chance to go deeper than the Facebook Add-a-Friend button.
    Aaron B.´s last post ..Our Mother of Perpetual Help

  2. I can relate so much to your concerns. I took a gap year before uni and spent it doing voluntary work abroad with a bunch of extroverts, and from the start I felt completely left out, which was incredibly lonely a lot of the time given that we were all far from home. I remember thinking, is this what uni is going to be like? But I’m glad to say that uni is almost anything you want it to be. Hopefully this applies to drama school too. There are so many different people, different personalities, different backgrounds, different interests, different “scenes” in terms of the social life… there is something for everyone. It took me a while to find my way at uni. I didn’t instantly click into friendships and I found it a bit hard to get friendships off the ground initially. But I got there eventually and I had some of the best times of my life at uni. One of the best things is deciding to share a flat/house with the friends you’ve made. For introverts, since we like having few but deep friendships, living with a couple of friends can be just what’s needed – you get to see them every day and really deepen the friendships. As long as you have your own room and enough time to be by yourself. 😉 I usually found my flatmates were my social “core” at any given time, even though I lived with different people each year.

    Honestly I think Facebook can work to your advantage. I used to go to societies and clubs and get to know people gradually, but with no way to contact them or see them outside of those weekly meetings, and being too shy to suggest meeting up at another time, I was frustrated by how limited those friendships were. I often think about how much easier it would have been for me if Facebook existed then. The society or club would probably have a FB page to join and that gives you a way to connect with those people you thought you’d like to make friends with. And it’s so much less scary to send someone a FB message inviting them to do something, than ask them in person at a society meeting!

    My main advice would be to not worry. I spent too much time worrying that I wasn’t like “everyone else” when really it doesn’t matter – we are all different and equally valid. Short courses with hundreds of people in attendance are probably not conducive to making lasting friendships, for most introverts. Trust yourself to be able to make meaningful friendships your own way, wherever you go in the future – to some extent it’s a learning process but I think being comfortable with yourself is key and it sounds like you are doing better than I did in that. 😉
    Sarah´s last post ..Cultural values and empathy

  3. I very much understand what you are going through.

    I have an older brother who is the epitome of extroversion and can click with anyone instantly. We had guests at my house for a while (who were closer to my age, than my brothers) but he gets along with them well, where I don’t enjoy their company. It does feel odd to look on at others getting along so well and wonder why you can’t easily do the same.

    In really understanding myself, I favour having those few friends who I can count on rather than so many who are random. In the long run, these close relationships last even when you part ways. Its why when you see some people from a long time ago you have nothing to talk about but a close friend from a while back can lead to long conversations reminiscing about the past.

    If there is one thing I can tell you (especially as I am at the end of my teenage years and you still have a few to go) don’t go looking for or try to change yourself to fit the crowd. It never benefits you unless you maintain the lifestyle the crowd favours. You are you, you’ll make friends in your own time when you are ready. Plus, you figured out your introversion early, i wish i had and hadn’t spent so many years trying to appeal to people by acting fake. As long as you are comfortable with yourself, you’ll do fine.

  4. I’m not sure if I have an answer for your dilemma. But you should know that you are not alone. When in high school, I (and several people I knew) seemed to feel lonelier the more of my peers there were around, ironically enough…

    As far as Facebook is concerned, if it helps, you should view it strictly as a medium for career networking, and not quite so much as one for making friends. That might (figuratively speaking) lift a little of the “socializing” pressure off of your shoulders.

    In other words, when it comes to interacting, you might want to be of the mindset, “It’s business, nothing personal.”
    Sonny@Teen Craft Blogs´s last post ..Make Anime-zing Chibi Girl Charm

  5. I completely understand you, because I’ve gone through similar situations, but I’m sorry to say that there is no easy answer. Pushing yourself will make you unhappy most of the time, but if you decide to take the plunge and try talking to some of the extroverts, you might be surprised to find out that they are not as scary as they might seem, and you might end up finding people who don’t care that you’re an introvert.

  6. I agree with Aaron,it’s better to have few friends…but to know you can count on them no matter what, than have lots of friends and when you need someone to help you,they all turn theyr backs on you.

    I was someone with lots of friends…everywhere i went i had “friends” but that all changed…no i have few…but when i need,they all jump helping me.This is what matters.

    It doesn’t matter how many friends you have on facebook,the more friends you have on facebook,the fewer you have in real life.

    And thanks,your article helped me a little too,somehow.

    Have a nice day!

  7. “A friend to everyone is a friend to no one” For introverts I think having a small circle of friends whom you can bet your life with is more than enough 🙂

  8. Some people get more attention because they have attention-grabbing personalities.

    Introverts to talk and relate to others, but they don’t grab for attention the way that many extroverts do. Extroverts tend to have more exaggerated facial expressions and voices that say “look at me”. When I was in high school/college, the popular clique girls laughed out loud quite often and tried to be comedians. They would do anything to draw attention to themselves, and then accuse the introverted girls of being “too quiet”. When in fact, many introverts are not quiet at all. They just are not loud.

  9. In terms of university, what I found is that like-minded people tend to gravitate towards each other.. Initially it will be overwhelming but you begin to see familiar faces and things start to work out.

  10. hi… i am sry i dont …hav a solution to ur problem … i just wanted to tell u that even i am facing the same thing currently… its been two months i started living in a hostel… started my engineering studies… girls here hav formed nice groups .. the girls with whom i get along belong to different groups… and if i join them sometimes i feel lyk an outsider…lyk they must be thinkin-y -is-this-girl-here-she-dznt-even-belong-to -our-group!!!!!!!!!!!so i end up bbeing nice to every one… without really having a good friend….

    • Just try to bond with someone at first, rsenorita. You don’t need to be friends with everybody. Sometimes just one helps. 🙂 I hope my advice helps a little.

  11. I completely sympathize with your concerns. The most important thing is to not worry. Be yourself, you are perfectly normal. I felt like an outsider or alien in school and sometimes in university, but not so much as in school. I didn’t feel much pressure to socialize – I was going my own way and was pretty individualistic. Of course, there were some uncomfortable moments when there was a lot of socializing going on around me and I was feeling like I am the odd one out. Some people thought I am a weirdo living in my own world, but I didn’t really care. Unfortunately, my not-fitting-it attitude and reserved nature attracted some teasing in elementary school and to some degree in high school, which marked my life in a pretty negative way.

    As I say, I can often feel lonelier if I am not alone. But we can feel lonely and out of place in group situations if there are no similar personalities around us. However, it’s been my experience that in a group of 20 – 30 people there is a big chance to find someone like you, form tight bonds with this person and have them as company in a more refined, serene and meaningful way than are the relationships between extroverts. I really did – I found my best friend in elementary school and there was such a kid in high school, too. I also found two such persons in university and one of them became my second closest friend, though he is now in another town.

    As for Facebook, don’t feel pressured to do anything as others do it. Use it your way as it suits you. I have Facebook, too. At first, I registered out of curiosity and just to have an account. I didn’t requested any friendships, but with time a few people from university and school found me and sent me requests. I accepted only those who I like, I also accepted a few trustworthy and interesting people I met online – we are alike either in terms of personality or in terms of interests or both. Sometimes Facebook is the only way to keep in touch with such people. The number of my Facebook “friends” is between 30 and 40 and it’s enough, and most of them initiated our Facebook “friendship”, not vice versa. Also, I don’t really socialize very much in Facebook. I tend to use it as a news feed – when you “Like” the pages of artists, brands, etc. that you like, reading new stuff about them is just a click away. Also, from time to time I participate in a few groups that I can relate to (including introversion). Most of the time, I post one or two music videos on my wall, some thoughts or interesting links.

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