I’m prone to overreacting every once in a while, I’ll usually throw a fit in my room at night and try to be quiet (hitting pillows, crying, screaming into pillows) which I’m sure is ordinary. The real problem is I seem to be missing something. I’m too…open-eyed, I guess. I sit around with a stupid smile on my face. At school, I feel uncomfortable if people try to sit next to me at lunch, so I sit on my own and read, and this doesn’t bother me at all! But my mother thinks I’m hurting myself (socially), but she doesn’t seem to understand how strained I feel when I’m put into a situation I don’t like. On the other hand, when I do feel chatty, I always seem to mention topics that aren’t related, or I steer the conversation towards me, or I’m unintentionally mean. I try to remind myself not to behave that way, but every time I talk it seems like I mess everything up. I think about things no one else really cares about. I’m not sure if my personality is weird or if something is actually going on with my brain that doesn’t happen with everyone else, because even introverts (i think) have their own little group of friends to sit with, even if they don’t talk, but I feel stifled and nervous when I haven’t started talking on my own terms. I’ve started noticing that I take nudges and pushes a little too seriously, and when I try to replicate that playful atmosphere with my siblings I end up hurting them or angering them. Everyone gives me a hard time because of it. My siblings make me feel guilty. Once I had politely declined an offer from a nice girl who wanted me to come and sit with her and her friends, and when I later on related it to my mother, she was upset that I didn’t accept the offer and told me that I wasn’t going to make many friends if I was rude like that. There’s also the fact that I act a lot like a child and can be loud and annoying, and I feel like I interrupt people all the time. I just love being alone and feel agitated if someone, like one sibling of mine often does, impedes my private space unannounced. Thank you for listening.

A. Being a teenager is difficult, much more so than many people realize. Most teenagers can relate to your experiences. All of the things that you have written about have probably been felt and are being felt by teenagers across the world. They worry about fitting in. They want people to like them. They worry about embarrassing themselves in front of others, and so on.

Your mother seems to be concerned about your wanting to be alone. Her concerns may be valid. The key to knowing if there’s a problem is determining the reason you want to be alone. If it’s because you want to collect your thoughts or read a book or focus on a project, then those are normal and healthy reasons. If it’s driven by nervousness or fear, then that’s a problem. It might suggest that your avoidance of people is due to anxiety. It would be unhealthy to avoid social situations because of fear. Doing so would reinforce your fear and could make your anxiety worse.

It’s normal to want to be alone, sometimes, but not all of the time. It’s expected that you would want to socialize and make friends. You might try talking to your mother about this issue or better yet, consulting the school guidance counselor or a therapist. Therapists specialize in understanding relationships and social interaction. You could greatly benefit from their professional advice and guidance. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle