How to find a friend when you feel alienated

Arjai101 asks: It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s depressing as hell. I’ve just been really stressed lately with school. I don’t really like my mom’s boyfriend, which is really causing a huge rift with my mom and I. It’s like we’re perpetually at war or something. Or maybe, I’m just a terrible person because I probably just have a weird obsession with hurting people. I feel this immense pressure in general with work. I’ve got to start chipping in a bit with bills, nothing crazy, I just have to cut some of my spending habits, for a while. I mean, I’m fine I guess. Maybe it’s just that time of year, but I kind of just want to be in a relationship, or just to have someone genuinely there for me, romantic or not. I know it’s idealistic of me. But right now, all I need is someone who doesn’t mind if I go off the radar for a while when I’m busy, who’s available to hang out weekends, just blow off steam and stress with, and someone who doesn’t put me on some pedestal. Lately, I feel like everyone thinks I’m some super genius who can save the world or something, just because of some random accolades, that I guess are impressive and the fact that I’m 16 and go to university. It’s just this massive weight on my shoulders to keep it up, to somehow keep topping yourself. I really need someone who just sees me as a human being, not a list of accolades because I will never be able to always live up to that. I have my moments sure, but most of the time I’m overwhelmingly mediocre. I guess I’m just rambling off. But, I really need a friend or something. Someone I just really click with, who’s just available, when I am, and there aren’t complications and other stupid things, or mind games. I feel like a lot of my friends are either not actually my friends, or I just don’t have a great time with them because our personalities don’t mesh well. Anyhow, how do you even meet people? Like, I’m out in public and think maybe I should talk to this stranger. But, is that actually a wise thing to do? Or, where is it even okay to talk to strangers? And then, I’m just surrounded by people who are just older than me. And then, what do I even want from people? Have I actually been the diabolical crazy one the whole time? Just overthinking and coldly calculating things, and then going off the rails when things don’t go my way? Am I really the reason, that at the end of the day I still feel so lonely? Like maybe I’ve tried so hard to build this person, that no one even wants to go near it. Maybe, I need to take more risks. I feel like I make huge risks all of the time. But maybe not the right ones, maybe not the social ones. Maybe I should just do what I feel and forget the consequences. But then you have to look at the consequences every single day. I honestly just don’t want to take responsibility for anything. Like, what if I just approached that one person? But then, you will never truly know what they’re thinking, and then people talk, and things go wrong. At this point, I think I’m writing to you just to be writing about it. Like, I just feel like I don’t understand anything. And, I just feel so much right now. And, I’m so confused. And, I want so much. But unlike with school, I have no idea how to even go for it. I don’t think I really am all that good when reading people, especially when it pertains to me. I mean with other people, it’s easy as pie. But when it comes to me, I just don’t know what to think. The stakes just seem ridiculous. I don’t know. I don’t know. I literally just don’t know anything. And, I guess I’ll just leave it at that because I could go on forever and think myself into deeper holes.

Hi Arjai101 –


My dear friend (and yes I consider you a friend), there’s no way in the world you could have gone to college as young as you did and not find yourself in this exact situation.   Let’s say it simply – life is hard at age 16 for everyone, and everyone tends to feel alone and alienated, and you actually are different from everyone around you. Both because of your age, and because of your intelligence.


Think about it, human intelligence (and I suppose doggy intelligence too) exists on what they call a bell-curve, where most people are in the middle hump, and the rest get fewer and fewer as they get further from “normal.” I don’t know your IQ, but I’m going to guess it’s very high, maybe 140 or more? Well that means that you “fit in” just as much as people with IQs of 60 or less, which is considered mentally deficient! Imagine if I were at your school (four-legged, unable to speak) – I might be as much an outsider as you! And I’m a different species!


So am I saying there’s something wrong with what you are, or that you made the wrong choice? Not at all. But I am saying that your life is guaranteed to be difficult, because of your intelligence and your youth at school. You also might end up incredibly successful and famous for just these same reasons. But for now, it’s just lonely and tough.


I have other pieces on AskShirelle about how to make friends at school, but you’re in a special situation. I’ve suggested before that you look at student organizations, or activities, or joining some sort of cause. And I still think those would be the best bet for you to make some new friends. But if those aren’t working for you, I’d suggest you look backwards instead. Who were your friends when you were twelve?


My human Handsome is way older than you, and had dinner last week with a guy who was his best friend around that age. And although their lives had gone fully different directions over the years since, they had a fantastic time, and promised to make it happen a lot more now. You see, what they liked about each other all those years ago was still true!


Now sure, you have different classes and classmates, and probably different interests. But can you look up some of those friends and get together just for silliness? That might help.


I still have no doubt that you’re going to make great friends at your new school. Think about it, next year when you’re 17, there will be a bunch of new students 17 and 18, who you’ll relate to beautifully.


But just to get through the next few months, I’d say to check back to the person you used to be.


Just think about it – New Years is coming soon, right? And what’s the song they always sing that night? “Should old acquaintance be forgot?” Well, don’t let it be forgot! Make those old acquaintances new again. And then be ready for a very happy new year, while you look back at a year when you did such a brave and amazing thing, and – look at you! – have done it so very very well!


All my best,


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