We’ve all seen those teen movies where it’s someone’s first day at a new school. They walk into the cafeteria hall and the whole room goes silent. Everyone turns to look at them. They approach the ‘cool’ group and ask to sit with them. The leader tells them to leave and the poor new person ends up eating their turkey sandwich in a toilet stall. Eek.
To help you avoid this nightmare scenario, we’ve rounded up some tips for making mates at school.
Think about what makes a good friend
The first step in making lasting friendships is knowing what to look out for in a friend. A good friend is someone who is there for you no matter what, doesn’t judge you, is kind and respectful, and is a good listener. These qualities are hard to judge when you first meet someone. But, there are some signs to look out for. For example, how do they treat other people? Do they talk about others behind their backs? Do they put people down? If a potential new friend is making you or someone else cringe, they’re probably not going to be a great mate.
Getting involved with stuff you’re interested in at school (like a sports team, band, drama club, etc.) is a great way to connect with likeminded people. Whether it’s your team’s huge win on the field or the play you’re rehearsing in drama club, you’re guaranteed to have something to talk about. If you’re not sure what club’s right for you, have a chat with the organisers of the groups to suss out what they’re all about.
Approach someone who’s on their own
It can be pretty intimidating to walk up to a big group of people and strike up a convo. It’s much easier to approach someone who’s on their own at lunch, or in class, and ask if you can sit with them.
You’ve probably heard it before, but people generally love to talk about themselves. Ask them about what they like to do in their spare time, their favourite subject, or what TV shows they’re into. Then ask follow-up questions. For example, if they say their favourite Netflix show is Riverdale, ask them what it’s about (or tell them you’re into it, too, if you watch it).
Remember that school isn’t everything
If you’re not clicking with people at school, try finding connections elsewhere. Join local clubs or sports teams you’re interested in, or head to the ReachOut Forums to talk with people who get it.
It sounds cheesy, but you gotta be yourself. There’s not much point in trying to make friends while pretending to be someone you’re not. It’s unlikely that every person will like you, but there’ll be plenty of people who appreciate you for you. And remember, if you don't have many friends right now, it won't be the case forever.