High school by design is a life challenge, a time when children become teens, then young adults. Schoolwork is more difficult, and future plans start taking center stage. Unfortunately, high school is also a time when socializing becomes far more difficult. To avoid becoming socially awkward, develop a plan early on to socialize, create friendships and boost your confidence.
People with high levels of self-esteem are generally well-liked among their peers. Naturally, self-esteem leads to confidence, to looking and acting like you belong. Conversely, human nature dictates that all people feel at least a little socially awkward at one time or another, especially in high school. The key is to not let a few instances of social awkwardness dictate your high school career. Keep socializing to build up your skills, so that minor setbacks don't become major ones. If you feel very insecure, try talking to a counselor or therapist about your fears; she can teach you how to "fake it until you make it," and also get to the root of the problem.
Making friends and getting along in social groups requires a skill set just like any other complex task. Socially awkward people often lack these skills, perhaps because of missing out on social experiences. Some, such as remembering names, are of small importance; develop a habit of repeating names upon meeting if this is a weakness. However, empathy, or understanding the thoughts and feelings of others, is an essential social skill. To foster that skill, practice. Actively seek out situations for socializing, and practice flexing your empathy muscle. Showing sincere interest in others makes most social situations feel comfortable.
High school is a time to explore your personality. Take advantage of that by joining as many social groups as possible. Try sports. By their nature, sporting activities foster confidence; they also help you get fit. If sports aren't for you, try joining different clubs, both inside and outside of school. Don't limit yourself to socializing with one clique; talk to everybody. Go to parties and dances so that those highly-charged social situations start feeling commonplace. For the same reason, go to all-ages nights at dance clubs. Ultimately, make a conscious effort to expand your social circle.
Friends help buffer people from life's difficulties. If you already have a group of friends, keep cultivating these relationships. Likewise, work to strengthen relationships with colleagues until they're part of your social network. If you're shy, you may feel more comfortable avoiding people. This is a huge mistake. Instead, make a point of talking to people. Realize they are not judging you; they're too busy worrying about how they're coming across. School, church, clubs, even the gym are great places to meet new people, so don't hesitate to try. Most importantly, don't retain friendships with people who are mean to you just for the sake of having them as a friend; find new friends instead.
- University of Kansas Psychology Department: Emotional and Social Development in Middle Childhood
- Succeed Socially: You're Not Alone If You're Socially Awkward, And There's Hope Of Improving
- Social Skills 101: Learn to Make Friends Even If You’re Shy Or Socially Awkward
- Succeed Socially: Ways People Still In High School Can Work On Their Social Skills For The Future
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