Dear Thelma: My best friends keep leaving me!

  • Family
  • Sunday, 25 Nov 2018

I have had this problem since I was in Form One. Since I am an introvert, I am not good at expressing my opinion so most of the time, my friends will approach me first.

I had a best friend in Form One. We got along so well but we parted when she went to college in 2016. We kept in touch but because I was so dependent on her, I didn’t have the courage to approach any other student besides Malay ones. This is because I had a best friend in Standard Six who is Malay and we separated when she went to another school. I feel comfortable being around Malays instead of people of my own race. I am a bit anti-social since I don’t really hang out with others.

But deep in my heart, I really wanted to be around my friends. But I was shy. I kept myself away from my friend and didn’t mix well with other students from other classes either. I don’t know why I have had this attitude for six years. I hate myself for acting this way but I have no idea how to change it. I am on silent mode whenever I am in class and even outside of class.

But my behaviour totally changes when I am at my home. I am a joker and a clown and make my siblings laugh all the time.

Now I am attending a pre-university course. I am the same way here. I keep quiet all day, and only speak when I am spoken to and when I need to.

Actually, I don’t stop myself from talking to people but I don’t know what I should talk about when people start a conversation with me. I will only nod and shake my head to answer them.

When my orientation week started at my new college, everyone enjoyed themselves except me. I couldn’t feel the enjoyment of the activities and I kept feeling bored.

I ended up not having a close relationship with my seniors and I try to avoid them when I see them. ​I know I could be a friendly junior and greet my seniors or joke around with them.

I can see their effort to make friends with me but because of my attitude, I just can’t make friends with them. I don’t mix with the seniors and even students who are the same age as me.

Every day is awkward for me since I have to avoid bumping into them. I am also silent around the teachers. Their perception is that I am a quiet student. I think every single teacher has told me that I am so quiet. It’s true and I can’t even deny it.

I feel my happiness left me a long time ago because my best friends keep leaving ​me when they transfer to other schools. I don’t feel happy anymore. When my teacher makes jokes, everyone laughs except me. I don’t find anything humorous in what they say.

At one event, everyone was having fun and singing as if they were at a concert. But there I was, just sitting and watching them without joining in. The teacher invited me to join in but I said no.

I desperately need your help to make some changes in my life.


Dear FyFyan

What you’re describing is a confidence issue. You are fine with people you’re comfortable and familiar with, but paralysed when you are with strangers. And because you’re constantly in a group of strangers, you’re becoming more and more distressed. Reading between the lines, you’re becoming a little depressed as well.

The way forward is taking these steps.

First, you need to write down your support network. That’s people who you feel you can talk to face to face, over the phone or message. You can lean on those.

Second, look at the last six times you wanted to talk to someone and didn’t. Analyse those times in detail to figure out exactly how you felt, what you thought, and how you behaved.

When you look at what you thought, I bet there’s a false belief there. Like maybe you’re thinking, “They’re judging me” or “They don’t like me”.


When we’re frightened or depressed, we tend to think the worst. But those scary thoughts come from a sad place; they are your inner fears, they are not reflections of what is really happening.

The truth is that the people in your college like you because they keep reaching out to you. They can probably see that you’re shy but they’re not sure what to do about it. That’s very normal.

You need to talk to a professional therapist about those false beliefs, to help you train your way out of believing them and into practising new positive thoughts and behaviour.

Third, you need to take baby steps where you practise talking to people. You can practise in a safe space, like with your therapist and then you go out and do a little bit more every time. This builds up your confidence and positive experience.

Fourth, you need some happiness scheduling. You know how you schedule all the nasty stuff like dentist appointments and exams? Happiness is just as important!

Make sure you fit in 10 minutes every day doing something nice, and two or three hours of nice things at least twice a week. When you make yourself do happy things, it will help lift the depression as well.

You can do this by yourself but it’s a lot easier with professional support. If you have a counselling department, go and see them. Look for someone with at least a Masters degree in psychology or counselling. Show them this letter and discuss options with them. If you don’t have one, call one of the charities that offer free help. Your university will have a list.

Don’t suffer in silence. You deserve to be happy, and it’s well within your reach, okay? So be brave and get yourself some help.

I’ll be thinking of you.

Have a problem? Email or write to Dear Thelma, c/o Star2, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.

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