How do you make friends at a new school?


#1

Hi,

So in August next year, I’m starting a new school. It’s the Swedish equivalent of the second part of high school, so everyone’s new. At most, I’ll have one friend from before, but he’ll not go in the same class as me. I’ve never been the one to reach out to people, they’ve always started talking to me. That’s how I get friends.

I know it’s a long time to August, but it’s making me really anxious. How do people make friends anyway? I’ve read online that you should just start conversations and start new hobbies. But firstly, my social anxiety and secondly, I’m going to spend three years with those people so I don’t want to say anything wrong. And also, Swedish people are cold to strangers; like if I’d start a conversation with someone, it would be weird for both of us.

And if/when I make friends, I’m probably going to lose them fast. How do you start and continue conversations? What do you do when you meet up after school?

Yeah, I need help.

Thank you!


#2

I would start by googling what Swedish people are into, whatever that may be, and what they are like. That way you already have some conversation starters and are familiar with their personalities.

Bring gum with you and offer it to the people sitting around you when you get some for yourself. This is an easy way to break the ice, plus everyone loves gum, especially when it’s free :slight_smile:

Since it’s a long way from now, you should try to get into one sport or after-school activity that this school will have. You will have a lot of time to get good at it until your school starts.

If I think of anything else, I’ll post another comment. Good luck!


#3

Hi elias13,

There’s a lot of anticipatory anxiety going on for you. Over-thinking, analyzing, worrying now about something happening 10 months from now. I know the tendency to worry like this, to have anticipatory anxiety. Everyone with social anxiety understands your anxiety about this. I was confused and anxious all the time in school. I wasn’t clear on what my problem was back then, but it was clear to me that I spent most of my free time not thinking about good rational things, but rather stuff like you describe here.

We could all give you small specific advice about things to do, or making small talk. I understand, as well, how Swedes are not talkative in the same way as other countries, similar with other Scandinavian communication styles. … But, what good is that advice? The advice is for the symptoms. You would take the advice and try to apply that to all the wounds. You’d still be worrying and over-thinking, probably over-thinking your own actions, and putting yourself down.

In the therapy series, you go step by step to stop irrational worries and anticipatory anxiety. You say here “I’m probably going to lose them fast” when refering to making new friends. I’d call that a big ANT. You might say this ANT is based on the truth. I’d say it isn’t the truth, or doesn’t have to be, but since you’re setting yourself up for believing this, then you’re likely setting yourself up for that to happen.

In the therapy series, we work on slowing down, turning around such irrational thinking and worries, retraining our thoughts to be more healthy and rational, building up your own self-acceptance, and reminding ourselves not to do these things with pressure or negative emotions. The paradox here is that anything you are pressuring yourself to be or to accomplish, it will likely be harder to be or get those things. To make friends, yes, we have to be open and friendly, and we all can do that. We all have access to that. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. But, to realize this simplicity, if we’re behaving as we do with social anxiety, we have to have that shift to get to where it’s simple. It’s not simple when we have all this wacky unhealthy mind stuff going on which does indeed affect how we act and are perceived by others. Getting to “simple” for us is not entirely easy. It doesn’t have to be “hard” either, but it may be something that just takes time, retraining our thinking, and gradual progress. The advice to “just be you” is good advice, but what can you do with this? If it were me, in high school, I couldn’t have been helped by that advice. I couldn’t have been helped in college with that advice either, the anxiety was only getting worse. But through the therapy and learning how to deal first with nerves, then with self-perception and acceptance, then yes… being me is something I can be. From there, the simple advice for being myself and being open to making friends and saying hello is great advice. It starts to work without the pressure, with the healthier belief in myself, and with being open and taking the first step / a more active role in taking the initiative in situations rather than just reacting to my world.

I could give the same example with making conversations. The advice is rather simple, but getting to that simplicity is difficult for social anxiety sufferers. People without social anxiety don’t understand that, because for them it’s rather simple already. You understand what I’m saying. We have all these irrational worries, fears, blockages, self-censoring, etc. about even making small talk with people. None of that lends itself to simply talking and not worrying about it.

I’ve been reviewing the series. Dr. Richards discusses these topics - mingling, making small talk, making friends… but all these things are also built on the foundation of the therapy that comes before it, so that you can start applying common sense advice stuff. Without that rational foundation, it’s hard to truly believe this. Without that, it’s kind of like running around trying to stop all the different leaks instead of dealing with the water at its source.

As usual I’ve written way to much for simple questions and answers here. I don’t know you. You might want a small, direct, tangible piece of advice and you’ll feel better. For me, from this perspective, I’d want a solution to the whole issue, not a short-term fix that doesn’t fix it. I’m considering my answer from the perspective that this is social anxiety disorder, not from the perspective that this is a minor thing and otherwise “I’m pretty much fine”. If it’s the latter, and you don’t feel you have social anxiety disorder and want some simpler advice, then you can ignore my advice.

I know that high school and college years are stressful, with or without social anxiety, but especially so with social anxiety. It’s hell, a hell of our own making. The good thing is that it doesn’t have to be, and that younger people, assuming they’re willing and open to the therapy, make good progress. They don’t have the extra years of baggage, often, to work through. Logically, the sooner one comes to solutions and starts working on them, the fewer years of irrational and unhealthy years of habits they’ve endured.


#4

@Mateo Thank you so much for your answer. I’m new here, so I didn’t know about the therapy series. I’ll look into it. :slightly_smiling_face: I don’t think your answer was too long; I think it was just what I needed.

Thanks again!


#5

Thank you @marissarose. Sorry for not writing this in my question, but I’m a Swede.

I don’t really like sports :frowning:, and Swedish schools don’t really have after-school activities (sad, I know).

I’m sorry if this reply seemed negative. I truly appreciate you trying, so thanks again :slight_smile: