Group Think

12 Mar

Dear LetterBalm: I’m a sophomore in high school. Since I started there, my old group of friends has split into two rival groups. It got real messy with all kinds of accusations, some of them made up – everything from cutting school to cheating on tests, nasty texts and body shaming from boys. I don’t even think anybody knows exactly how it started. I didn’t want to take sides, so I bounced between the two groups. But when it got nasty, I tried joining another group. Even though we didn’t know one another well, the new group let me hang out with them, probably more out of pity than anything. We have nothing in common, and I feel weird trying to make them like me. What can I say to them?

–Second Year Slouch

You should congratulate yourself. Ms. L.B. says you were very mature extricating yourself from your toxic pals. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. You’re starting from a position of strength. The new group can’t be unaware of the drama that’s been happening with your former friends. They may be a little reticent to make friends with you because they may think that you are a poisonous person, too. So, you need to be the mature person here. Don’t give up on the group – give these potential friends a chance, especially if you’re made welcome (no matter if it isn’t 100% enthusiastic) at lunch. You probably have more in common with some of them than you think. Be cheerful, engaged, interested in each one as an individual, and don’t badmouth anyone. Join in the conversation, but be a good and respectful listener and have a few conversation openers to contribute. Try some of these:

  • What did you guys do on the weekend?
  • I had some problems studying for the English test today. I don’t think I did too well on the essay. How do you think you did?
  • Did you see [the hottest Netflix/YouTube/trending tweet]? What did you think?
  • My little sister drives me crazy. She won’t leave my stuff alone.
  • I like to mountain bike when I have the chance. My family is going to Wyoming this summer on a ranch with bike trails.
  • What do you think of the new [Apple Watch/latest e-device]? Is it worth it?
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