rebelling against low expectations

How do I make friends when I’m so worried about what people think of me?


MELINDA WRITES: I struggle so much with how people view me. It’s a fear of mine that when people see me, they see a tall, girl with acne problems and a mouth full of metal. I’m so afraid that people won’t like me that often I don’t even make the effort to try to become their friend. Plus, I semi-recently moved 3,000 miles and it’s hard to find a balance between really wanting a close friend and not pushing myself into a relationship too fast. Any advice?

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  • Wow, I also really struggle with that. I hate small talk, and really dislike the acquaintance stage of the relationship, yet when I try to have a real discussion with people and open up to them, people just think I’m really weird.

    So I can’t offer any advice, but I will be praying for you.

  • I’m a mom (a Rebelution mom ๐Ÿ™‚ ), so I’m not sure if I should be commenting…sorry if I’m breaking a rule! ๐Ÿ™‚

    But I have had so much experience with this with my own kids, who are now grown, and I would like to share some things that helped them with this issue.

    One thing to remember is that most people aren’t thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves and worrying about the same things you are worrying about! Most people WANT to be welcomed by others, just like you do, so if you can keep that in mind, it really helps.

    My shy daughter told me a couple of years ago that when she was a teenager, she would pray on the way to church that there wouldn’t be any visiting teens so she wouldn’t have to talk to them! As a family we stressed the importance of welcoming visitors to our church, and to her it was horrifying! But she did it anyway, and we actually had a couple of families join our new, small church because they had been welcomed by her and others. That encouraged her to continue to practice. It was a VERY hard thing for her, but she did it because she knew we, and more importantly, God, wanted her to do it.

    Now all these years later, she is still shy but reaching out is more natural for her because she practiced it so much! That’s a good thing, because she married an Army man and she moves and meets new people all the time. (By the way, she met her husband when he visited our church and she greeted him, as she was in the habit of doing by then! ๐Ÿ™‚ What would have happened if she hadn’t done that hard thing all those years? They probably would never have even met!)

    My youngest son is on the other end of the spectrum. He is charismatic and connects with people easily. But guess what? The challenge for those kinds of people is to use that gift to serve others instead of just to gratify themselves. So they have their own relationship “hard things” to deal with.

    Serving others is the key. God doesn’t want you to “be yourself,” whatever that is. He wants you to forget about yourself and be just like Jesus! So stare at Jesus by reading your Bible, and ask God to make you a servant like him. Then you will be looking at people to see what you can do to serve them, instead of worrying about what THEY think about YOU. ๐Ÿ™‚

    One of the best books that will help you develop practical relationship skills is HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE by Dale Carnegie! I read it with my gregarious son, who I would think would be the LAST person to need it, and even he learned all kinds of things that still help him with relationships! It’s a fun and inspiring book for every personality type. You can probably get it at the library but you will want your own copy. It’s that good!

    God bless you as you learn to love and serve people like Jesus!

    • Thanks, that was really cool advice. =) I actually have that book, I haven’t had a chance to read it though. I shall endeavor to do so sometime in the near future hopefully. May I just say that I really appreciate it when more mature people -not older, just more mature :)- take the time to pore into those of my generation and encourage us greatly in our own walks with Christ. God bless you jkimbr. =)

    • I can really understand what your daughter went through. I’m quiet by nature and it’s really not in my comfort zone to initiate conversations with other people, especially people I don’t know. I do know, however, that it’s what God wants me to do, so over the past few years I’ve learned to be more outgoing. It’s ultimately been a blessing. Sometimes, though, it does feel like a burden. I’ve often wondered why it fell to the shy person in the youth group (i.e. me) to be the outgoing, friendly, welcoming one. Shouldn’t these responsibilities fall to someone to whom it comes easily? But I’ve realized that God doesn’t ask us to do easy things, He challenges us, stretches us. And I’ve grown because of it.
      Thanks you for sharing this! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Just think, though, Christy! For my son, it is NO sacrifice whatever to connect with people. (btw, those to whom it comes easily need to be mentored to develop that gift for God’s use instead of theirs. You can be sure He didn’t give it to them so they could just enjoy their popularity.) But for you and my daughter and the many like you, this is a real sacrifice; you are giving up your own comfort and preference, and you can do it as a love offering to the Lord! And He graciously will bless you through it. With my daughter, the blessing was friends and her husband. ๐Ÿ™‚ Who knows how God will bless you? But you can be sure He will. You can’t outgive Him!

    • I agree with jkimbr. Great job Rebelution mom! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Melinda: I know I struggle with this too, so don’t feel that you’re alone!

  • Some advice for you is this: If you base making friends on your looks your going to get nowhere. (down the wrong path) Trust me on this. There are people out there who are only “friends” because of looks,latest “toys” and so on and so forth. But will be willing to stab each other in the back in a heartbeat. Friendships these days just get harder and harder. Theres no problem in trying to up your appearance.(just as long as you don’t go too far) And everyone always worries what people think about them. So your not alone. Be yourself. I’ve attracted good friends despite that fact that I wasn’t part of the “crowd”.You might miss out on a really good friendship because you waited. Swallow your fear and go talk!!! Take some time to get to know people. Friendships shouldn’t be rushed. Take some time and enjoy yourself.

  • I’m probably not the best person to offer advice on this subject, however, I have had a fair bit of experience with people and having to step out of my comfort zone to build relationships. Unfortunately, people nowadays put way to much stock into looks. Which is stupid and sad, but true. With my life, I couldn’t avoid people if I wanted to. =) But the Bible tells us that if a man wants friends, he must show himself friendly. Kind of difficult to do when you just want to hide in a corner. =) But friendships take effort, a great deal of it. After all, anything worth having is worth working for. But don’t try and change who you are in order to make friends. If they don’t like you for who you are, they aren’t really your friends anyway. But, as jkimbr said, you need to strive to be like Christ, looking past your own needs and self, to the needs of others. There are so many people out there just like you, they just need someone to love them, care, and be their friend. So do it. Step out in faith, trust God to bring you those friends you want, and remember that no matter what, He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Be encouraged. My prayers are with you, I know how you feel right now. God bless.

    • Sounds like you are a very good person to offer advice, Abby! It is amazing how God, while you are serving and pleasing him by serving others, will meet your own needs through that very act of serving. I’ve seen it over and over.

  • Yes! I have a terrible problem of trying to look better than I already look. I care too much about what I wear in front of people and what I say in front of people.
    The only logical answer is: just be your godly self. Don’t worry about what you wear, because God made you how you are. /.

  • I have had similar experiences, moving also 3,000 miles and having braces. I was very shy and self-conscience. It took me a while to make any friends, but sometimes waiting for a great friend is worth it. A true friend won’t care how you look. A true, godly friend will care more about your character. If you try to just look nice, you may get friends, but they could influence you in wrong ways. So, don’t worry about your looks, instead, focus on godliness, which will make you very beautiful on the inside. I hope all this makes sense!

  • It’s pretty sad that a lot of people only look on the outside. I know how Melinda feels, and having Asperger’s Syndrome makes it harder to find and keep friends. But realize that God puts people in your life for a reason, sometimes as friends. I have less than a handful of friends, but I am truly loyal to them and love them like they’re my family. Melinda, stop worrying. God doesn’t call us to be stressed by relationships. Just go and talk to someone in your class. I know that it will be awkward, but that’s how you reach out. It’ll get easier with time.

  • I used to always be worried about what other people thought of me. I’m still probably too self-conscious, but I’ve come a long way. Here’s my advice:

    – Realize that most people are a lot like you. They’re worried about what you think of how they act and how they look. We’re all human. No matter how we act on the outside, the majority of us all feel the same on the inside: self-conscious, scared, wanting acceptance. And, in my case, realizing that made me so much braver.

    – Don’t be afraid of rushing into a friendship! Make friends! Some people will just be acquaintances, some will be good friends. Some will become life-long friends. Others will reject you. This is always tough, but it’s a part of life. However, avoiding making friends because of a fear of rejection is not the right way to go. And eventually, you’ll realize that in most cases, when people reject you, it’s not about you. It’s their choice, and if they want to turn down the chance to make a new friend, that’s up to them. You did your part, and in the end, it’s their loss.

    Also, you have to remember that some people just aren’t friend material, whether it is simply because you don’t get along or because they are a bad influence. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still treat them like friends, so the above still applies.

    – Be confident as the person God made you to be! But be more than just self-confident; find your confidence in Jesus. Go to Him through reading the Bible or in prayer, and He will remind you that you are beautiful and loved.

    I know what you’re struggling with is a lot more difficult than the above may make it sound. Five years ago my family and I moved to a different state. At the time, I was so shy and self-conscious that it felt like a physical handicap at times. What helped me change was when I realized that God was calling me to be a light to others (as He calls us all to be), and I couldn’t do that if I was afraid to talk to people. So I did hard things. And it changed me. I’m still a naturally quiet person, but I’m not afraid to talk to people. I’m not afraid to contribute to discussions. God has molded me into a better person, a changed person, and I know He can do the same with you.

    God bless! ๐Ÿ™‚


  • I face a lot of the same problems with making friends. I know that this is probably really clichรฉ advice, but here it is anyways. Be honest about who you are with the people you want to befriend. I used to try to be like the people I wanted to be friends with instead of just being myself and it ruined some of my friendships. When you try to be someone you’re not just to fit in, the person you really are will eventually show when you least expect it, and it can cause people to reject you. If people don’t take you for who you are when they meet you, then it’s probably not a friendship worth trying for. If you’re having a hard time finding friends where you are, you might try taking up a new hobby and meeting other people that way. I hope this is a little helpful(-: Good luck making new friends.

  • That’s a great question Melinda! I have struggled with many of the same things although in regards to getting friendships on a deeper more Christ centered level. It can be awkward (in fact it will be awkward sometimes) but definitely worth it. My exhortation to you would be that as Christians we shouldn’t be hyper-focused on these things. The reason being that when we are constantly looking at ourselves and our inadequacies we are truly being prideful which is sinful. Now let me clarify something, I am not saying you are necessarily being hyper-focused on self, but I’ve found myself in that situation a lot and asking the same questions. So if this is the case just give it thought. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis: “Humility is not thinking less of oneself, but of oneself less.” a play on words no doubt, but it serves the purpose to show that true humility is about putting our focus on serving God and then others. Which is btw a great way to make friends ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • First step: Be comfortable with who God made you. What other people think of you doesn’t matter at all if God is ok with you. If God thinks you’re beautiful (which He does, both inside and out), then you should think you’re beautiful. And when you have that knowledge, then it doesn’t matter what other people say. And then after you’ve adopted that mindset (it may or may not take a while, but it’s a struggle worth going through), just concentrate on being a friendly and Christian person. You’re bound to attract people with similar spirits who won’t judge you for little menial intricacies. And I’ll end with my all time favorite answer: pray! It’s kind of a catch-all answer because it’s pretty much the answer to everything lol. Ask God to help you see yourself as precious and to bring people around you who will encourage you. And then God will do His thing. I hope this helps! Stay beautiful you! ^-^

  • I feel like it’s really important to have the proper balance when it comes to “caring what other people think of you.” On one hand, we definitely shouldn’t allow other people to put a damper on our courage when it comes to sharing Christ and just being ourselves. You shouldn’t become something you’re not for other people. Yet at the same time, we’re supposed to care about people. That means that we should live in such a way that people can tell that we value them and want to be good to them, without overvaluing their opinion of us. We should be willing to be personally in touch with other people, without changing ourselves to fit their expectations.

    The thing is, this is much easier said than done. When I was younger, I put way too much stock on what other people thought of me. I compromised and changed my personality so that I would fit in. When I came to realize the foolishness of this, I went in completely the opposite direction, to the point that it was harmful. I didn’t care at all what other people thought. I didn’t try to be caring or personal with others. I just disregarded other people. This is of course not what we as Christians are called to be. It looks hypocritical, judgmental, and rude. People are supposed to know we are Christians by our love, and this certainly doesn’t reflect that.

    I think it’s just a learning experience, as we try to find this balance. We’re not going to be perfect, and it can be difficult to do this. I think there are a few important things to remember, however, as we grow into this balance more and more.

    1. Put Christ first, people second. It’s important as Christians that God be at the center of our lives. He should always be at the top of our priority list. Everything we do should first and foremost be intended to glorify him. But we also need to put people in the second-place spot. We’re called to love people, not disregard them in our pursuit of God. The best way to love God is to love those whom He made in His image. The bottom line is, we should love and seek to be there for people as much as we can without letting that get between us and God.

    2. Remember that you’re not the center of attention! This can sound a little harsh, but the reality is, we as teens tend to feel like everyone is watching us. That’s why we’re so easily embarrassed and tend to hold onto our own faults so tightly. But the thing is, people aren’t paying nearly as much attention to you as you think they are! That doesn’t mean that people don’t care about you- they do! But you’re not the center of everyone’s attention, and people aren’t judging you or sizing you up nearly as much as you think they are. This is a common problem for teenagers (myself included)- thinking that people are looking down on you way more than they actually may be! Remember that people usually aren’t judging you nearly as harshly as you think they are.

    3. Be the one who ISN’T looking down on others! One of the most important things that you can do to overcome this obstacle is to be different from the people around you. That means befriending those that seem insecure and being an encouraging presence to everyone around you. By being different from the people that make you uncomfortable, you help others with this same problem. “Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” Be the one who doesn’t stoop to being rude to others to elevate yourself. By being different, you will encourage others to do the same.

    4. Do Hard Things!!! Ultimately, even by understanding all of these truths, it’s not always going to be easy to step out of your comfort zone and seek friendships. But here’s the thing- it’s not supposed to be easy! The Rebelution is all about doing hard things. This is one of those hard things. We can live in a way that reflects what I’ve said and what others have said, and that will make it easier to overcome this trial. But ultimately, you’ll still have to do hard things. It’s an opportunity to face with courage the obstacles before you and rise above the things that hold you down!

    I hope this helps. Keep living for Jesus!

  • when you are concerned about what you are why hide it be proud of who you are there is a clique for everything I had to go through with this at my new school but now I have bunches of friends they’re all over from nerdy to athletic but I try to go to FCA fellowship of Christian Athletes you meet new people who have a relationship with GOD and if your school doesn’t have one start one

  • Just be YOU! anyway say you make a friend pretending to be cooler, smarter… ect.
    When the person gets to know you they will find just how you lied. I don’t know about you but I would rather be a geek rather than a liar.

  • i feel the same a lot. Then i realize that most of the people i know just don’t really care how i look unless i wear something mind-blowingly weird, but most of the time it’s just me who notices how i look. actually, i also have acne (and I’m 12!) and braces. No one i know except my mom really cares about that. Just don’t worry!

    • I’m also kind of tall, but don’t be scared about that! God made us each unique and that’s one of His gifts to us!

  • Lia I’m 12 too and kindof well ok really weird but in a good way I used to be a bystander but now I stand up and take the bullies face to face they just back off

  • I have acne so I can relate. I used to be worried about what people thought of me , but honestly now it doesn’t really matter. Unfortunately you can never and will never please everyone. There will always be someones standard that you don’t meet. What I’ve learned is that its very important to simply decide that it doesn’t matter what people think, and then go out there and be yourself. After I started to just be me I’ve noticed that its much easier to talk to and meet people. You don’t have to act a certain way around certain people and if they don’t accept you or think you’re the weirdest human being they have ever met, well then a friendship with them isn’t worth it and probably wouldn’t work out anyways.

  • Melinda, I can totally relate to this. I’ve moved a lot in my life, and I recently moved several hundred miles away to a new state. I think the hardest thing for me is, like what you said, wanting to have close relationships with people, but struggling to let people in my life again. Plus it’s been hard to make lasting friendships when I typically don’t live in one place for very long. I know one thing that’s helped me is relying on my family. It’s not exactly like having a best friend, but they are feeling the exact same isolation as I am. Also, try to remember that you’re not the only one who’s ever been the new girl. It feels that way when you meet new people who seem like they’ve lived in the same place their whole lives, but I can assure you there are others in similar situations. Don’t let it define you- if you act like you belong in your new home, people will begin to treat you that way.

  • One book that has helped me talk to people is How to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere by Larry King. It’s got some good thoughts and insights.

  • I think every teenage girl has self confidence issues about how other people see you every once in a while. I am thirteen and home-schooled, so that feeling is quite frequent for me, especially since where I am from, homeschooling girls are considered “out of touch” and and boring. when finding a friend, I would watch (NOT STARE) other people, because you can find out a lot about peoples personalities by body language, then if you find someone you might like, you can walk up and introduce yourself. Nice people won’t care about your looks, just how you are on the inside. I hope this helps Melinda! ๐Ÿ™‚

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectationsโ€”a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More โ†’