Hope and Help for Homeschool High School Introverts in Teen Social Groups
In the last installment of the High School Hope and Help series, we learned why it’s so vital for teens to have a solid group of friends with similar values. Finding a tribe and fitting into a social teen group isn’t as easy for some teens as it is for others though.
A few of us are blessed by having an extrovert personality like an ESFP (find out your Myers-Briggs personality type here) or an Enneagram 7 “The Enthusiast” (outgoing, enthusiastic, adventuresome). Extrovert personalities are energized by being around people. However, I think more people tend to fall somewhere in the middle of being the life of the party and being an anxiety-ridden wallflower. So if you are like most people and have the occasional moment of self-doubt and social awkwardness, you probably could use some words of encouragement before stepping into new social situations.
Fitting into a Teen Social Group
One year at our annual homeschool co-op (NOT) Back to School Night, some of our teens performed a clever skit for all of the families. The skit dealt with reasons some of our teens may not feel comfortable the first couple of times they attend one of our teen social events. Some of the reasons were feelings of not fitting in and feeling invisible. 🙂
When I worked as a speech-language pathologist, I helped many pre-teens and teens who had trouble fitting into different or new social situations. From those stories of their observations and my own, I came up with the following five gentle reminders for anyone that sometimes struggles with new situations and new people.
So here you go, the countdown of the top 5 things you need to know before attempting to socialize (smirk):
Number 5 Teen Social Tip
People may actually mistake your shyness as unfriendliness or worse, snobbishness. Everyone feels shy at times. You are not the only person in the room struggling with shyness. If someone pushes beyond his or her comfort zone and asks a question to start a conversation with you, be sure to answer with a full sentence. Don’t just smile and shrug your shoulders. They will quickly walk away. It’s like playing catch: someone tosses you the ball ( a question), you catch the ball (you answer it) and then you toss it back to them (make an additional comment or ask them a related question).
Number 4 Teen Social Tip
Put your phone away and participate in the activity around you. You can Snapchat about it later. The main reasons for being at a social activity are to have fun and make more friends (to text and Snapchat in the future!!). You can’t do either if you are staring at your phone. Use your phone before the social event to learn what’s going on in your community and world so you’ll have something to talk about and contribute to conversations.
Number 3 Teen Social Tip
Stop worrying; no one is really watching you that closely. Trust me, they really aren’t!! They are too busy having fun! If you are asked to join a game or activity, don’t be so self-conscious about possibly “messing up” that you won’t even try. Others will respect you for trying and conversely, they probably won’t bother to ask again if you refuse. If you can take yourself out of your own worries and put your energy into your life, you’ll find that you don’t have time to worry so much. Here’s what I mean: Ask people how they are or what they’ve been doing and focus on them instead of yourself. Appear interested in what they have to say and soon you will find that you really are interested and that you’ve made a new friend.
Number 2 Teen Social Tip
You are like a magnet; you can choose to attract or repel others. No one wants to approach the new kid who’s lurking on the outer edges of the group with his arms crossed, scowling at the world and wearing a wool dress coat when it’s 105 in the shade (true story). On the other hand, you can push yourself out of your comfort zone— by smiling and joining in conversations–and it will totally be worth it in the end.
And Drumroll please…. The Number 1 Teen Social Tip
You are not invisible. Despite the fact that, at times, it may seem as though you must be invisible (because no one is talking to you) you are not. You may share Peter Parker’s self-obsessions with loneliness, inadequacy, and rejection. But you do not have any of Spider-man’s superpowers. Sorry. So…where does that leave you? Try asking someone a question, like “What’s your favorite video game?” or “Are you taking any outside classes this year?” Result? Best case, you just started an actual IRL conversation—yeah, you! Worst case? They could be a jerk and shrug and walk away. Trust me, if they do that, they aren’t your people.
What things have helped your teens find and fit into the teen social groups in your community? Comment below and share your tips and stories!
Look for the rest of this series of Hope and Help for Homeschooling High School:
Sorting Out AP, CLEP Testing and Dual Credit
This is an updated and revised version of an article that I originally wrote for homeschoolhelperonline. Reused with permission.