This isn’t really a question about me, its kind of people in general (or well maybe it is just me, I dont know)….
So, ever since I started high school I have felt more awkward and stressed out about people than ever. I think that’s normal though, right?
Anyway, its weird because before high school, I actually had less friends than I do now. Why do I feel more awkward when now I have more friends? You should probably know that I now go to a high school for the arts, and everyone at my new school is super nice and accepting.
So… How do I get to be less awkward? Does everyone get awkward in high school? What changed between 8th and 9th grade that is making me so self-conscious?
A: Thanks so much for writing in! You bring up excellent questions and I’m very impressed that you’re so in touch with you internal experiences and feelings — that will be a great asset as a performer/artist. Did you go through any other family or life changes before starting high school? There may be several explanations for your feelings of awkwardness for you to consider.
You’re describing feelings that I often hear in my practice from new college students who have largely based their identity on being the best and most accomplished in their high school. In college, they are surrounded by hundreds of bright and talented students which challenges their sense of identity and worth. I wonder if this same phenomenon has happened for you, only in high school instead of college? High schools with a specific focus tend to attract highly motivated and talented students, like colleges. While fellow student are accepting and nice, they are also your “competition,” and their talents may feel more threatening to you than what you experienced with your jr. high school peers.
Attending a high school for the arts may also lead you to feel more emotionally vulnerable and unsure of yourself. Artistic creation and expression require you to access different aspects of your emotional experiences and that may be leading to feeling more awkward. As a performing songwriter, I can relate to feeling more vulnerable when I am “putting myself out there” creatively.
Big life transitions like changing schools tend to make everyone feel a bit more anxious and self-conscious. Moving on to high school is the next step toward adulthood, requires more homework, more responsibility, and new social situations and that may take some time to get used to. I suggest talking with your parents about your feelings, or consider talking to a school counselor. What you’re experiencing doesn’t sound out of the ordinary for a life transition. If your awkwardness doesn’t go away in a month or so, please consider talking to a therapist to help you get to the emotional root of what your experience and to look into the possibility that you’ve developed an anxiety disorder.
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