ti-f asks: I’m 12 and in sixth grade, and I know most kids don’t have any close friends – I’m actually one of them. Why do I feel so isolated?
Hi ti-f –
There is just about nothing more painful than not having friends. Friends are as important to most people (and dogs) as health or family. So it makes total sense to me that you’d feel bad about not having any close friends. But while it’s always true that we want good pals, you’re at an especially vulnerable age, ti-f. This is a time when your whole world is changing – inside you and around you – and that can make anyone feel very
Also though, and maybe even more importantly, you’re at the age where peers (the people your age, at your school and around you other places) start becoming more important to you than your parents and teachers. Not that those grownups aren’t still a big part of your life, but 12-year-olds start caring a lot more about what their peers think of them, and whether they fit in with them, than they ever did before. This will likely last for about six-to-ten years – after which you might suddenly care a lot more about your parents and other non-peers. It’s totally normal.
Because of this, for many people, the teenage years are a time of feeling extremely isolated and alienated. You might soon hear about famous novels like “The Catcher in the Rye” or “Ordinary People,” or movies like “Rebel Without a Cause” or “The 400 Blows,” all about this feeling. And of course rock and roll has offered endless songs about that isolated feeling, from “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Paint It Black” to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and beyond.
In fact, the great irony about teenage alienation is that it’s so universal! Millions of teenagers will, at the same time, be convinced that no one else understands what they’re feeling!
But of course, the truth is, they’re each right. No one else can ever know or understand exactly what you’re feeling – because you’ve had your own experiences, good and bad, that have shaped who you are today. But please believe me, the rest of the human race does kind of get it. The rest of people have felt something like what you’re experiencing at any time.
What you want, and need, is to find some friends who relate enough to what you’re going through, and who enjoy and accept you as you are. And who you feel the same way about. Those are the ones who will be your great close friends.
Don’t give up hope, ti-f. Those friends are out there. And they’re just as eager to find you as you are to find them.
But in the meantime, if you think you’d like a great friend who will want to be with you, and care about your feelings, and love you like crazy, and want to play with you all the time, and is all warm and cuddly and will lie against you on cold nights, and will lick your nose when you’re sad…
(I’ll bet you have NO idea where I’m going with this, do you!)
Yeah, ti-f, the best cure for alienation and isolation I know of is a DOG! We’ve made a living out of caring for people’s souls for thousands of years. So if it’s possible, think of heading out to an animal shelter and picking up the best friend you’ll ever have. It’s still important to find those human friends over time too, but in the meantime, why not settle for the best!
Good Luck my friend,