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JEWEL & DAVE: Making friends; teased by jocks

Dear Jewel,

I'm an 18-year-old female looking for a friend. Do you know thesaying, "Go hang out with your girlfriends"? Well, I don't have any- and no guy friends.

I really want a friend so I can talk about personal things. Butwhenever I talk to someone, I end up saying something personal andthat person gets uncomfortable.

I used to work at a store and I talked to a guy about my period,and he said that was too much information. So, how do I make realfriends and how do I know when I get too personal?

- Lonely 18-year-old

Dear Lonely,

Contrary to common belief, the art of being popular isn't a selectgift. Every social butterfly emerges from a distinct cocoon of her ownmaking. However, the good news is that you can pinpoint common traitsamong these awe-inspiring creatures.

Think confidence. Think relaxed body language. Think variedinterests. Think of acquiring a genuine interest in people.

So do you have the goods to mingle to your heart's delight? Yes, ofcourse! But I'm not going to sugarcoat the truth. Read: Unlocking thefriendship fort will take work.

Before you can embark on your adventure to acquire new buds, youfirst have to work on appreciating your merits, and only then can youwork on your networking skills.

Your first course of action should be to ask close figures in yourlife (even if they're only family members and teachers at this point)what qualities they appreciate most about you. Subsequently, ask themwhat characteristics you need to work on. Once you have a tally ofresponses, take an inventory objectively.

Begin by noting if there are any similarities. Go on to evaluatedifferences. After careful appraisal, make a conscious effort topolish your plus points. Likewise, make it your mission to improveweaknesses.

With all these mindful changes, it may take awhile for you to feelcomfortable in your own skin. Give yourself permission to migrate tosocial grounds slowly. Exchange short pleasantries with neighboringlocker mates. Greet more guys and gals in your last-period math class.Make your mark in public by participating in homeroom discussions.

Your next step should be to fine-tune your talents and use them tomeet people on the same wavelength. Your best bet is to joinextracurricular clubs or hobby groups. The mutually satisfyingsettings afforded by these gatherings will help take the limelight offyou. Concentrate on the activity at hand, and ask your peers polite,non-probing questions. It would be wise to leave touchy topics such aspolitics or religion out of the chitchat equation. Remember to listenactively, and reveal interesting tidbits about your life.

Hopefully, your new upbeat attitude will lead you to build an armyof friends. When it comes to revealing personal information, thinkbefore you leap. Assess past conversations with the person in questionto determine the comfort level of your relationship. Your objectiveshouldn't be to overwhelm someone, but rather communicate effectively.This, in turn, may mean that you'll broach different subjects withdifferent folks. And that's perfectly A-OK.

Best of luck,

Love, Jewel

Dear Dave,

Why do all the jocks in high school think anyone interested in thearts is gay? I'm involved with the drama club and I enjoy poetry andmusic, and I'm not gay.

But I get comments from jocks, who tell anyone within hearingdistance that I am. Some of my friends are on the receiving end, too.

It's not at the point where I would consider it harassment, just acomment every now and then, always with someone else listening. I hearthe stories about there being dumb jocks in every high school. Do youthink that's true, or am I just as guilty of stereotyping? I mean,what's with these clowns? They really can't be that stupid.

- Arts Lover

Dear Arts Lover,

What a coincidence, dude! I also like poetry and music, and I'm notgay, either. Guess what? Most of my friends like the same thing, andthey're straight. But there are people who don't like poetry, which isfine by me and fine by them.

You're on the receiving end of this jock-ular harassment becausethe guys bugging you are idiotic. That doesn't mean all athletes areignorant and rude, just these people. While it's easy to categorizeothers into "Dumb Jock" or "Poetry Nerd," it's best to look atindividuals as well-rounded human beings.

I know you're under stress now from the insults, but I'd recommendyou ignore all that ugliness. Let it bounce off your chest like abullet off Superman, and realize that there are more important thingsto worry about than what some kids in school think of your hobbies.They want to nag at you, but don't let them.

Good luck!