Dear Annie: I am very antisocial. I don’t go to parties as often as most teens, I hardly ever invite friends over, and the few friends I do have no longer attend the same school. I don’t belong to any clubs or do other extracurricular activities, including sports, which has greatly affected my health. I spend most of my days at the computer, watching TV or pacing back and forth in my backyard.
My parents have noticed my lack of social skills. My older sister is the same way. They think they are to blame for not introducing sports and other social hobbies to me at an early age, but something tells me that’s not the case.
I know I can make more friends if I try, but I don’t know how. So, Annie, please tell me. How does a 14-year-old who’s never had a circle of friends, never been a partygoer and never had her first kiss learn to be normal? – Lonely for Life
Dear Lonely: You are not as abnormal as you think. Many teens have difficulty with their social skills, even though you may not see it. Plus, it sounds as if there is a family history of social anxiety. The fact that you want to change is a good sign, and we have every confidence you can take charge of your life. First, make an effort to get out of the house more. Force yourself to sign up for at least one extracurricular activity at school. Make a vow to smile and say hello to as many classmates as possible. Invite a new friend to go with you to the mall or come to your house and watch a movie. Be interested in what others have to say. All of these things require effort, and you will have to push yourself at first, but it will get easier over time.