Today I’m here to give you guys some tips on how to better communicate with your friends and family so those awkward, personal conversations can be … well a little less awkward.
When I was a freshman I had an extremely difficult time opening up to my friends because I was afraid that who I was wasn’t good enough for them or wasn’t likable. It was because of these fears that I avoided any conversation that could potentially turn into something more personal than my opinion of the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Part of this came from my desire to be self sufficient, which is something that a lot of freshman can relate to.
At fifteen you want to be able to prove that you can do everything on your own, that you are strong enough to handle anything that gets thrown your way. But that can be both mentally and emotionally tiring. I’m here to tell you something that I wish I’d known when I was fifteen; you don’t have to keep everything bottle up inside you because your friends are probably feeling the exact same way as you. Regardless, it can be daunting to venture into deeper conversations even with your closest friends. So what can you do about it?
1. Test the waters
Start off with something small. Tell your friends about an old crush or that time you accidentally walked into the boys bathroom and see how they react. I’ve found that friends who immediately go and tell other people about the conversation afterwards aren’t the most trustworthy. The most important part of communication is trust. If you can’t trust someone than they aren’t worth your time or your respect. It might take you some time to find the right group of people who you can count on, but once you do you’ll feel comfortable telling them just about anything.
2. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation
There is nothing scarier than being the first one to bring up something like mental illness or sexual orientation because you can never be sure how people are going to react. One thing I’ve learned over the last four years is that a lot of people want to talk about these things, but they are afraid. Afraid of being judged or laughed at or rejected. I have found that more often then not, by being the first one to open up the people around you will come to respect you for it. By being the first one to share something personal with the people you trust, you are not only showing them that you trust them enough to tell them, but you are also making yourself seem like a really kind and open person who they can count on. So don’t be afraid to be the first one to bring up a topic like mental illness.
You’ve definitely heard it before, but it can’t be said enough, listening is the most important part of communicating. Whether it be at work, at school, or at home you’d be amazed at all the little things you pick up by really listening to a person.
Something as small as their word choice can let you know how they really feel about something. Their tone of voice when they say hello can be a reflection of what kind of mood their in, and body language is another good indicator of mood. As nice as it is to be vent to your friends about the stresses of life, make sure that you let them do the same. Regardless of where your high school is, these four years are going to open your eyes to some pretty heavy stuff and these friendships are going to help you get through it all. So if you take nothing else away from this, please look out for your friends and if they aren’t willing to go to the moon and back for you then you deserve more.
I hope you guys have enjoyed this mini lesson on communication, and now feel more comfortable opening up and just being yourself. It might take some time before you are feel ready to open up to your friends, and believe me I’m still working on my communication skills, but just be patient with yourself.