By Amanda-Joy Lee
High school is scary. People walk in and out of school, instantly judged based on their appearance, personality, and mentality. The idea of being judged is extremely intimidating for some, including me. Coming from the little island of Oahu to the big city of Las Vegas, I have experienced this fear since the first day of school. Making friends has always been a weak point for me, especially since I consider myself introverted. According to Merriam-Webster, introversion is a reserved or shy person who enjoys spending tim
Friendships are extremely important to mental stability. The first week of school, the transition wasn’t so smooth, and every day felt like it was an endless cycle of misery and hard work that I had to keep to myself. During this time, making at least one friend was vital so that I could express how I felt about my troubles, which would have made me feel better. I was constantly stressed with school work, and I found it difficult to adapt to “mainland culture.” Having someone that I could relate to would have lessened the pent-up frustration that I typically had at the end of the day. Luckily, over the years I’ve learned to step out of my comfort zone and meet people that I now consider some of my best friends.
A friend group can range from two to a bunch of people, but having at least one friend to rely on is important to keep a person’s social skills intact. According to 20th century psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” humans first focus on the basic needs of survival like food and water. The levels of the hierarchy are more difficult to achieve as a person’s goals move higher up the hierarchy, which is why love and belonging is third from the bottom of the pyramid. He believed it would bring us closer to being a self-actualized person, which is the achievement of one’s full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world. The purpose of the hierarchy is to improve ourselves, and having people that we connect to will help us do that.
There is, however, a difference between friendships and relationships. It’s often said that “friends come and go,” which is why creating relationships is more important. Relationships are about creating a connection with another person, which can be built from friendships. Whether it be a friend or significant other, they will provide you with a sense of security and importance.
However, close relationships, though, hard to come by and take a lot of time and effort. For some, making friends is difficult. According to Irene S. Levine, a clinical psychologist, some people struggle with creating strong bonds with other people. Some factors include insecurities, off-putting personalities and unrealistic expectations of friendships. There are still ways to improve and help create close relationships despite these factors.
1) Positivity is key
Having a positive mindset can contribute to a happier and more positive outlook on life and friendships. When a friendship begins, ask questions. Creating a strong friendship in the beginning will lead to a more strengthened relationship. As time passes there will be more to talk about, but, in the meantime, enjoy their company. You can’t force a friendship, so take the time to get to know the person before delving deeper into the relationship.
2) Expand your horizons
Joining new clubs or taking up a new hobby will give you more things to talk about with new people. At school, there are many clubs such as Key Club, Chinese Club, and Future Medical Professionals that welcome newcomers with open arms. There are also classes designed to help connect people with similar interests. Graphic Design, Journalism Foundations, and Auto Tech are classes designed not only to help you hone your craft, but to also build strong relationships. For me, the transition from Journalism Foundations to the news team staff was a huge change, but I found that the people in these classes are just as passionate and determined about the same subject as I am, which made it easier to find friends with whom I connected.
3) Take a leap of faith
As daunting as it may sound, going up to someone isn’t as bad as it seems. Whether it be asking someone to sit with them at lunch or joining a group for a class project, people will typically say “yes.” Although most groups are open to letting new people join them, find a group that is relatable to you because it will be easier to connect with them. More extroverted people who enjoy the same things you do will approach you, but you don’t have to wait for them to make the first move.
4) Be yourself
Ignore what other people think, and do what you want. It’s okay to be introverted, but in order to become more confident, you should try new things to break free from your introversion. High school is a place for self-exploration and trying new things that will make you more confident. If dying your hair, changing your style, or doing what you enjoy makes you more confident and happy, ignore what others say and do it. High school is the place to make mistakes and find yourself, so don’t be too weary of what other people think, and instead focus on what you think of you. People are attracted to confident people.
We all need love and a sense of belonging; they keep us sane and improve our well-being. It takes time to find a best friend, so don’t expect your first try to be perfect. With perseverance, making new friends will become second nature, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people.