I really want to make friends, but I can’t seem to. I have never been the most popular person in any situation, and though that’s not my main goal, I strive to make more friends. I’m not quick on my feet and I don’t have much life experience, so carrying on a conversation is hard. I also skipped a grade, so I feel that my classmates think I’m less mature than them, though I know I’m not.

I go to a very small school (~75 people in a grade), so my pool of possibilities isn’t very big. I have also been labeled as “gifted”, and my mom loves to drag me to gifted events, where I don’t connect with the people there. Because I am closed in this “gifted” box, my mom (who pretty much controls my life) disapproves of “normal” people; and those people are exactly the kind of people who I want to befriend.

I have been to several psychologists, and it seems like they just want to help me cope with my issues and not actually help me. But I actually need help! How can I be more outgoing? I feel like I am an extrovert, but I am shy. Is that possible?

A: Yes, there is something called an ambivert, which means you may be both introverted and extroverted. But the label doesn’t give many tools, so let’s see if we can come up with some ideas.

First I would have a mature conversation with your mom. Explain to her that you realize you have talents and skills that are different than others, and one of the things you need to grow is contact with others who have very different backgrounds than you. In other words, ask your mom to help you nurture your gifted features, since she is so invested in them. Let her know you need more and different social activities to grow.

Find something you like that you can learn about outside of school. Dance, guitar, photography, tennis, horseback riding, yoga, etc. are all possibilities, and that will allow you to connect with others while learning something. Expand the size of your pool and I am certain that you will flourish.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral