Is my social life affecting my grades in high school?

by Jessica Holsman

Dear Jess,

I’m currently in year 10 and struggling with my social life at school. I’m worried it will affect my final grades at the end of the year...

I struggle with social anxiety and things haven't been easy after moving schools recently.

I feel like all of the friends I made this year have turned against me, and I’m finding it really hard to talk to new people.

I spend the majority of my time studying or hanging out with my boyfriend who’s been very supportive.

Do you think that not having many friends at school can have a negative impact on my grades?

Anonymous x

Hi Lovely,

Thanks so much for writing in and sharing what's been going on for you lately. I'm so glad you felt comfortable to reach out and I hope I can be of help and take some of the weight off your shoulders!

Year 10 is a big year and you've definitely got plenty on your plate! I am really fortunate that I never moved schools (yep, same campus from grade 1 to 12!) so I guess I don't really know what it's like to have such a big part of your life change dramatically and at a point in your life when things are already complicated enough...

I'm know stranger to anxiety though. I think it's something I struggled with from a pretty early age and when I got to high school it got pretty bad (mainly because I was so stressed out and putting wayyyyy too much pressure on myself). It's something I've learned to manage over the years with the help of yoga, meditation, an amazing psychologist, super supportive family and friends and also sheer will power. Even though my history of anxiety and panic attacks hasn't been about social situations, I can completely empathise with you when it comes to how challenging it can be to push through those nerves and face whatever the situation is that's putting a big grey cloud over your head and forming a pit in your stomach (not fun!).

Moving schools when you find it hard to make new friends or put yourself out there in social situations is a BIG deal so you should be super proud of yourself for embracing such a big change and making an effort with your peers. 

It just sucks that the people you thought were your friends have turned on you and now you find yourself back at square one. 

I'm really glad to hear that at least your boyfriend has been very supportive and that you have someone who you can trust and confide in. That's really important and you deserve to feel supported! Everybody needs their 'go-to' person and you're lucky to have each other. 

Have you been able to talk to anyone else about the situation at school? It can be really helpful to speak to your parents or even a teacher and try to get some strategies for how to handle everything that's going on for you. Also, I think it’s really important that if someone is bullying you that you notify a parent or a teacher so that if need be, they can step in and put a stop to it, as well as make sure you know there’s someone on your side. I don't really know enough about the situation and whether it's worth confronting these friends to sort it out or maybe they just aren't the right crowd for you and they aren't worth your time and energy.

When it comes to making friends however, it's important to focus your energy and efforts of surrounding yourself with people who accept you for who you are and bring you up, not try to tear your down. 

Have a think about whether or not you think these people add value to your life. When you consciously decide to surround yourself with the right people, even if at first it is just a handful of individuals or family members in your life, you are taking control and ridding yourself of all that negativity! Even in my own personal life I am mindful of who I spend time with. I consciously choose to direct my attention towards building healthy relationships with people who add value and that I have things in common with. 

I'm not sure if you're involved in any extra curricular activities but this can be a good opportunity to make new friends with people who you share common interests with. It also takes the pressure off of approaching your peers and mastering up the courage to strike up a conversation because you feel like you're in a safe environment where you're usually so focused on the task (e.g. paining, playing chess, dancing, playing soccer etc) that you don't need to make much of an effort to keep the conversation flowing.

You asked if I think that this can all impact your grades negatively. 

I don't think that these challenges with the students in your school will necessarily impact your grades negatively (as long as you are still able to focus on your studies and not let the drama get to you), however friendships do provide us with an outlet from studying so we can enjoy other things in life and have a healthy balance. Also, having a strong social support system in place during high school can definitely help us feel less stressed because we have people we can go to and who get what we're going through.

Still, it's all about quality over quantity. As long as you have a list of people you know you can go to when things get tough or even a handful of people you can hang out with when you need a break from the books! I think that having people to confide in and also just spend good old quality time with can make a difference when it comes to getting through high school and making it a more enjoyable process.   

I hope these suggestions help and please know that things will work out. Remember to keep being the amazing, strong and resilient person you are and surround yourself with people who love and support you. 

Love, Jess x