How to make friends after you’ve given up

arjai101 asks: I just moved back to America two months ago. And, I’m having a really hard time. I miss my friends, and I’m okay with that. However, everyday I grow more and more lonely and it is just the most awful feeling. I hate my school, and the teachers don’t want to be bothered with me. No matter how hard I try to make friends and reach out to people, people just push me away. I’ve tried everything. I have joined clubs and I even have tried with some of the people at my church (Which is desperate because I hate going to church). I spend most of my time by myself and this is beginning to change me. I hardly talk anymore, and I’m usually a very outgoing person. I hate doing any of my hobbies, which is very bad since that’s usually what people do when they’re alone. I’m extremely frustrated with the situation and every time I think about it I want to cry. Believe me when I say I’ve tried everything. I have even seen a therapist TWICE. Nobody understands and they all blame it on me. They have no idea what I’ve tried and how it makes me feel. The therapist doesn’t give advice, all she does is analyze the situation. I need instructions. I can’t do this any longer. It’s affecting my attention span, I can’t read or write for more than a few sentences. It’s to the point where I have to go on a chat room anonymously and find people to talk to. (Except, they all want pictures and its rather disturbing.) In conclusion, I feel like there is no escape and the worst part about it is that IT’S MY LIFE NOW! I CANT ESCAPE IT! What’s wrong with me or them? What should I do?

Hi arjai101 –

What you’re going through sounds, regrettably, very normal. Most teens go through a time like this, where they feel alienated from everyone, and it’s devastatingly lonely. I have a few suggestions for you, but the most important one is to know that this WILL PASS. If you’ve ever had a dog, you’ll know that whenever our humans leave us at home alone, we’re miserable about it. We might freak out and tear stuff up, or we might just sit around glumly… but when the people come home, we’re overjoyed and go absolutely nuts over them. Well, just like us, when you’re in a mindset like this, it feels like it’ll last forever and there’s nothing you can do. So that’s why I say, again, trust that it WILL PASS. I just can’t say when, just as you can’t tell a dog exactly when their humans will come home. I just know it’ll happen.

But meanwhile… YUCCH!!! This just STINKS!! It’s very hard to move countries and start a new school. Handsome has a friend who did that when she was in third grade, and she was so outcast in her classroom that, on Valentine’s Day, when all the boys and girls gave all their classmates cards, she didn’t get a single one! (I do love kids, but sometimes they can be very short-sighted, or even mean, as I’m sure you know. The important part, though, is that before long, she made lots of friends and became very popular. It just took time.)

So what can you do? Well, reaching out to others is a great idea, even if it hasn’t worked yet. Some of those kids already have the friendships they want, and aren’t looking for other pals just now, so you need to keep trying till you find the other kids. They’re always there, just harder to find.

I find the best thing to do at a school or a church is to get involved in some sort of activity. Join a sports team if you like those, or help out on the newspaper or on a play. Even if you’re at the very bottom of the “ladder,” you’ll still be part of the group. So be the one who brings the basketball players their water, or who has to write the boring story about the new plants in the principal’s office, or the one who hangs up the lights and pulls the curtain back… you’ll be in, and over time, you’ll be appreciated – which is such an important thing to feel! And then maybe you’ll become a player, or an editor, or an actor or director, and find that the new kids at school are all wishing they could be as cool as you!

Now about the therapist, I’m of two minds here (which is a LOT for a little doggy brain). First of all, two sessions of therapy isn’t much. It’s like saying “I took vitamin pills for two days, and I still look the same.” Therapy takes time to work, and requires that you develop a real relationship with the therapist. So you shouldn’t give up.

But at the same time, maybe what you’re finding is that this isn’t the right therapist for you. Lots of therapists make a point of not giving advice or instruction, since they want to work a different way with you. But you certainly have the right to ask this one to be (in therapists’ terms) “more directive.” Or, if you feel she’s just not right for you, for her to give you referrals to other therapists who might work in a way that suits you better. All therapists are different, and what works for one person isn’t going to be right for another. So feel free to talk about this with her, and see what she suggests. (And if she’s not helpful at all, let me know, and maybe we can figure something else out).

Now about those chat rooms — I’ve written on here about them before, and I have to say overall, they absolutely give me the creeps. I’m very glad you find people asking for your pictures “disturbing.” So do I! We hear so often about people putting fake pictures up there to set up dates with someone who would never want to go out with someone their age or gender. So I understand your need to talk there, but want you to be SUPER careful! Please! (And most important of all, NEVER arrange to meet someone from a chatroom in person alone. If they want to meet you, okay, but bring a parent or someone else who has the power to get you out of there if anything is wrong!)

I can’t say it strongly enough, arjai101 – your job is to get through this difficult time as quickly and as healthily as you can, so that you’re in the best shape possible for making new friends when they do show up. Now you can probably guess what my last bit of advice on that count will be. If there are no people around who are giving you what you need, there is absolutely someone in a pound or shelter who is dreaming right this second that someone as wonderful as you will come and befriend them. And in return for you paying a tiny fee, and then giving them food and shelter and occasional trips to the veterinarian, they will give you a lifetime of love and laughter and protection and, what you really need now: optimism and self-esteem. And instead of your day being only about you feeling lonely, it will be about getting home as soon as you can to stop them being lonely. And their crazy mad greeting to you will be the best cure for loneliness, alienation, depression, and plain old adolescence that anyone has ever known.

So I don’t know if it’s possible right now, but if you can get yourself a pooch, a cur, a mutt, or as Handsome loves to say, a knucklehead… all the rest I said on here will still be true, but it will be much, much easier to achieve and get through!

For the moment though, I’m so proud to be a dog in your life. Trust me, things will get better. It truly is a friendly world out there.

All my very best,


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