This question is asked quietly with eyes averted; ‘How do I make friends?”.
When I hear this question in my office from my introverted teen clients, it breaks my heart just a bit for a few reasons:
It’s a really brave question to ask as there is so much stuff that comes when we are in need of better connections. There is often shame, embarrassment, and many difficult memories that come up when this question is asked.
And quiet teens are told making friends is easy; just go talk to somebody, ask someone to join you at lunch, go up and approach some kids.
And it isn’t that these aren’t good suggestions, it’s more that it doesn’t address how they feel inside. Introverted teens often feel inadequate, out of place, or they need to be different from who they are to make friends. And if there is social anxiety, it also makes it difficult.
With these feelings, it’s really hard to make friends.
And this can lead to overwhelming sadness
My clients will describe the sadness that is always there. How I say this is; sadness without a story. They can’t say: I was sad today because of this thing that happened but I felt sad all day. They sometimes share that they wake up sad and nothing really changed it as their day went on.
It’s a bit that they are sad because of what didn’t happen. And that’s hard to describe. These kids watch others talk easily with friends, watch others easily being included, and it can feel impossible for this to happen for them.
So the sadness moves in. The sadness interferes with school, with family, with sports.
So how does a parent help with this?
There are a few things we can do as parents to help with this. Here are some suggestions:
But as introverts, we don’t fit with just anybody. We have to feel a connection in order to spend time with people.