Advice for teenagers who feel they don’t fit in at school

Ashley asks: Do you have any advice for teenagers who have trouble fitting in at school?

Hi Ashley. I have tons and tons of advice for teenagers who have trouble fitting in at school. In fact (and I know this sounds crazy), every word I’ve ever written to teenagers is for ones who have just that trouble. Because every teenager has trouble fitting in at school!
I know, it’s hard to believe! What about the head cheerleader, or the football quarterback, or the kids who do all the plays, or the straight-A students, or just those ones you always see walking together and laughing? Crazy as it sounds, every one of those kids feels like an outsider, at least at times. Adolescence (the official name for the time in life when you’re a teenager) is one of the very toughest times any person ever lives through, because it makes no sense! You’re becoming more of an individual, right when you want to fit in! Hey that’d make anyone feel crazed!
There are lots of terrific movies about teens feeling like outsiders, from “Rebel Without a Cause” in the 1950s to “Ordinary People” in the 1980s to more recent flicks like “Mean Girls.” And watching those might help you feel less alone. But what you need most is friends to talk with about this feeling. If you can find any at school, that’s the best, because then you can compare your experiences to your friends’. But friends from anywhere are always good.
And of course, speaking of that, I’m thrilled to say I’m your friend. So next time you walk into your school, stand a little taller, and walk a little more confidently, because you’re cool enough to be friends with Shirelle!
And although that sounds kind of silly, you know what? If you do show a bit more confidence, I’ll bet it’ll help! Because again, everyone there feels like they don’t fit in, everyone is scared they’ll be shunned by the group, everyone is self-conscious, and everyone wants your respect and maybe your friendship. So be proud – you’re very wanted!
And there’s one other thing I’ll recommend very strongly. Besides wondering what will help you fit in, also look very closely into yourself, and ask this question: What do I love best? Do you love doing art? Do you love books? Do you love dogs (that’s a sign of great intelligence and taste, of course)? Music? Sports? Anime? Whatever it is, see if you can find anyone else there who loves that too. Because every time you find someone who shares your passions, you fit in a little bit more.
School is tough for everyone, whether teenagers or disobedient puppies. But the one thing I can promise you is… eventually it ends! But while you’re there, feel free to write me with any particular issues that come up. I’ll be glad to offer you a paw and a friendly lick on the nose, any time. That’s one great thing about us dogs – you always fit in with us!

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