Getting beyond your fears to make new friends!

GIRLFRIENDS, September 2008, by Jenfier Merfield

 Getting beyond your fears
to make new friends!

nervous making friends

Another new school year ...anyone slightly nervous? Maybe freaking out a bit? If you’re starting high school, junior high or a new school altogether you may be feeling some serious butterflies!

My family moved A LOT when I was in school. I rarely looked forward to the first day because it often meant a new school, with new faces and the fear of not fitting in. Being super-shy didn’t help either. One time a girl thought I was a snob because my shyness looked to her like I was stuck up. Meanwhile, I just didn’t know how to strike up a conversation!

Making new friends is a scary thing to most of us, but I can tell you the first step is by far the hardest and it gets easier after that!

I’ll never forget the first time I met one of my grade school BFFs. I just moved into a new place and her Mom told her to introduce herself to me. I came to the door and we both just stood there and stared at each other for a while. She finally got up the courage to say “Well, what’s your name?!” Before I knew it we were dying my Barbi’s hair blue... instant BFFs!

Most of you are beyond Barbi’s, but the idea is the same. Some people are just easy going that way, and others are just plain shy. Once you get names out of the way it gets easier. Follow these 4 steps and making new friends will get easier and easier!

Say something, ANYTHING!  -
when you see someone you think would be a cool person to know, go over and say “Hi” (at the very least). You could also comment on something they are wearing, a class you saw them in, etc. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like they’ll start screaming or burst into tears! ...they’ll say something back (even if it’s just “Hi”), so congratulate yourself, a conversation has started!

Introduce yourself -
next, tell them who you are. This can be just your name or you could add the school or town you came from/live in or grade you’re in. At this point they’ll either tell you their name back, or if they’re shy they may just smile. Don’t give up now!

Ask a question -
this is the best part. If you’re like I was and struggle with starting a conversation, ask them a question about themselves (what’s your name? where do you live? do you know any one here?) The focus is now off you and you can relax.

Leave it open - this is where you make a statement that will keep it going. If you’re uncomfortable or aren’t getting much back, say something like “gotta go, see ya”. But if it looks like a possible friendship in the making ask if they want to meet at lunch, or find out what classes you have together. At the very least say something like “see you later” which implies you’ll meet again. When you do run into each other again, smile and acknowledge them... say “hi” or “how’s it going”. The more you talk to each other the easier it will be to strike up a conversation.

Call them by name or write it down so you don’t forget it!
Remember, you’re not the only one who’s nervous and sometimes you have to take the first step. Smile, make eye contact and be yourself.

Practice makes perfect... set a goal to talk to 3 new people every day, even if you already have friends. Sometimes the ones who don’t look like the people you normally hang with end up being the best friend ever!


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