May 20, 2017



Hi Brandon! How do you find friends when everyone thinks you’re WEIRD? I like who I am, but at school, nobody wants to hang out with me. It’s gotten SO BAD that my grades are suffering and I don’t do my best at stuff anymore. To hide how bad I feel, I make puns a lot and pretend to be a news reporter or a game show host, you know what I mean? The thing is, nobody likes it. It’s pretty horrible when people groan every time I open my mouth. I feel so alone, and wish I could meet someone who likes me for who I am. Please help!

Worried Weirdo

Hey Worried Weirdo,

Oh man, I wish you went to my school so I could be friends with you! You sound awesome. I think you’d also get along with my good friend, Max Crumbly. It’s SO hard being different, especially at our age. And really, it’s not about being different. It’s about being honest about who you are. Because EVERYONE is different. But, some people feel insecure about who they are, so they try to blend in with the crowd by acting like everyone else. That has to feel awful too, right?

It sounds like you know who you are. You even LIKE who you are, which is AWESOME. But I’m sure it starts to wear you down, feeling like no one else appreciates who you are.

It stood out to me when you said this: My grades are suffering and I don’t do my best at stuff anymore. It’s great that you realize it. SO many people do this. I think some people even do it without realizing. And as hard as it is, I want to encourage you NOT to do it. Don’t stop being yourself. Definitely don’t stop doing your best in school. It’s hard right now. And it might be hard for a while. But a few years from now, you’ll be glad you hung in there!

It’s important to know you don’t just have to suffer through. I guarantee there are kids who find you funny, and who are into the same things you are. They might just not be confident enough to ignore peer pressure. So, how do you find them?

Well, what are you into? I encourage you to join in activities you enjoy, especially ones that might attract other kids who are a little bit quirky. Theater, for one! And if you don’t want to act, you could volunteer to paint sets, hang lights, or do all sorts of things. You seem like someone who would fit in with the theater kids. 🙂

But if not theater, it might be chess club, marching band, or debate. Maybe you could start a group for whatever you’re into—like comic books, Star Wars, Minecraft or whatever. Talk to a teacher or librarian; they might help you publicize your club and let you meet in their classroom during lunch.

And, you don’t have to be limited to school activities. You might be more confident if you’re starting fresh with a new group of kids. If your parents can afford it, you might try connecting with some kids at a non-school related activity. (Or maybe a summer program.) You might like martial arts or (again) a theater group or an art class. If your parents can’t afford it, those sorts of organizations usually have scholarships available.

If you like to act like a reporter, did you know Scholastic has a Kids Press Corps? You can apply here (by May 31st):

So, I really hope you find some awesome kids you connect with, who understand you and have their own quirks, too. But the truth is, it might be hard for a while. And that’s so cruddy. However, I just want to encourage you to keep being true to who you are. Or, like my friend Nikki says, “Always let your inner dork shine through.” Eventually you WILL find your people who like you for who you are. I’m sure of it. They’re going to be so lucky to have you as a friend!

What do you do when you feel like you don’t fit in? How do you respond to people who are a little bit different?