According to developmental theorist Erik Erikson, the teen years are a time of social exploration. Most teenagers try out different friendship groups as they embark on a quest to find their own identity. For some teens, however, this process is difficult, painful and lonely. You might feel isolated, alienated and completely alone. It is important to understand what caused your alienation and what choices you have in moving forward.

Get to Know Yourself

Psychologist Catherine H. Knott, Ph.D., notes that some people are simply introverts. You might prefer spending time alone or with a handful of close friends. You may feel uncomfortable in big crowds, especially among people that you do not know well. Introverts are often targets for bullies, points out Knott, because they generally prefer to withdraw rather than fight. In addition, teens develop at different rates. You might be more or less mature than the people around you, and this imbalance can lead to social shunning. There is nothing wrong with being introverted or at a different maturity level, but recognizing the differences that exist can help you move forward in a positive way.

Make Reparations

Make an honest assessment of the situations that led to your social alienation. Ask yourself whether you played a role in a fight or misunderstanding. Apologize to anyone that you genuinely feel that you wronged, but resist the urge to apologize simply to make someone like you again. If you followed your principles and presented your points in a kind way, you might simply be facing a personality difference. Make peace with yourself, as well. Forgive yourself for past wrongs, accept your own flaws and give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Find New Friends

Although it is easy to feel like “everyone” abandoned you, it is highly unlikely that you have ever met everyone around you. Consider your interests, hobbies and passions, as well as your personality, and look for people who are similar to you. KidsHealth.org notes that it is important to find the right friends, who share your values and are supportive, rather than just picking people at random. Practice standing up for yourself and your friends, and make sure your new friends do the same thing for you.

Seek Help

Social alienation is sometimes, though not always, a symptom of a mental health disorder. Depression, autism spectrum disorders and personality disorders are just a few conditions that can cause you to feel alienated and alone. If the tips above do not work for you, or if you experience other symptoms such as extreme sadness or anger, ask your parents or another trusted adult for help. You might need to visit a mental health professional for expert guidance.