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Feeling Alone in High School

From the COLlive inbox: A mother shares a poem written by her daughter about her experience during the high school years. Full Story

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high school girl in pittsburgh
October 21, 2018 5:07 pm

blessings and success,
you couldnt put how i feel in better words. wow. thanks so much i see at least im not the only one that noone cares about. i thought it was just my life that sucks but we can and will pull through. i would be there for you if i knew who you were and im sure you would be there for me. great poem writing and good luck in all your endeavors. may G-d bless.

To #5
October 19, 2018 9:20 am

My school instituted chavi’s club for a year and when it was introduced I felt like falling through the floor because I knew exactly the feelings being described. I didn’t gain any friends through that time just many hurtful comments – nobody wants to have someone sit next to them in lunch just to get points on their chart and to do their chesed of the day ( I know this was their reason bc they would exclaim it loudly to my face) Shluchims children especially suffer a lot most often silently . Being homeschooled means you lose out on… Read more »

I am 47 and have never had a friend
October 18, 2018 9:31 am

I was always more intelligent and creative then the girls my age and have high expectations of how i want to be treated by people ( how i treat others ) and as a result i have spent most my life on my own and i am truly happier this way.
Having said that i met my husband at 20 and we clicked immediately and he is my best and only friend and i just don’t have patience for anyone else .
Hang in there , my school, sem days i can hardly even remember !

To #11
October 18, 2018 7:50 am

Hi I’m a 12th grader dormy since grade 9 and I live on shllichus that the closest high school is a flight of 4 hours away. Maybe that’s the reason a girl might be away from home living in a dorm…

Hi there
October 18, 2018 1:49 am

I have so many things to say I don’t even know where to start: I completely know how you feel, I experienced this in high school and I continued feeling this way in Seminary as well. This is not only to out of towners (who were actually considered the cool girls) but to crown heightsers like myself, as well. It’s something that won’t change. Girls, whether they be lubavitch specifically or even in general, and especially in Beis Rivka tend to hang out in groups or cliques and if you don’t have a group you’re kinda lost. But listen to… Read more »

True for everyone
October 17, 2018 7:46 pm

Unfortunately as stated above this applies to many people. We are a young couple, who hardly get invited out for shabbos meals. Even though we have family were we live, still they can’t always have us. We thought now that we’re expecting BH, people will extend invitations, but that hasn’t been the case. The Limmud Zechus is that many people are authentically busy with their lives and families, but it is still a shame that the notion of Hachnosas Orchim to look out for people is not as present, or reserved for only a few ‘special’ families who think of… Read more »

October 17, 2018 2:25 pm

an amazing school-although it is small, everyone is warm and friendly towards one another

Same bochur as above....
October 17, 2018 12:23 pm

That message is to everyone. To the girl, the author of this poem. I’m sorry you feel this way. And the feeling isn’t foreign to me although I’m such a good friend to many I don’t feel like many truly care about me. But that’s the point. Maybe JUST maybe you don’t either know what real friendship is… If you would you would know that just ONE friend makes all the difference and that you would be one extremely lucky person to actually have a real friend. Nevertheless I relate to even wanting not real friends… just to hang. But… Read more »

Solid Suggestion from "only a bochur" so take it or leave it:
October 17, 2018 12:11 pm

Perhaps what friendship is must be discussed. Unfortunately many people including adults have very little to no clue what having a friend or being a friend is. When people will be made aware, then even those who are in cliques (or whatever it’s called), will finally realize why they don’t really feel happy with the “friends” they have. Regarding what friends has come to mean today: You don’t need friends. You need love. This girls feelings may be very similar to what a girl feels when having trouble finding a shidduch. But if a girl having trouble finding a shidduch… Read more »

What’s now ?
October 17, 2018 10:16 am

Soon this article will be a thing of the past. So what are the Hanhalahs, teachers and students going to do that NO boy or girl should EVER feel lonely and unwelcome???? If things stay as usual then this op ed was a waist of time!!!!! I am a parent and look forward to seeing MAJOR CHANGE in this area I want my kids coming home saying that the school started a new project ( witch is way over due) Called aAHVAS YISROEL!!! This Chavi’s club sounds amazing perhaps ALL SCHOOLS can and should adapt it!!! Teachers, hanahlas, the parents… Read more »

to #41
October 17, 2018 1:13 am

I did the same thing:
Breaking in and adapting, doesn’t happen overnight.
I sent my kids to camp every year.
When they came to school, there were a few smiley faces that they were so excited to see, and it made all the difference in the world.
CAMP broke the ice, and paved the way, for lasting friendships.

October 17, 2018 12:58 am

I am so surprised that noone mentioned my following advice! Unfortunately, and sincerely ,REALLY not to bash Crown Heightsers whatsoever, because receiving, befriending, hosting, serving and taking in guest (which really the parents get more credit then the youngsters do), make them oblivious to the fact, that newcomers from out of town, and out of the country, are lonely, have to adapt, and simply don’t know anyone. They could be, and probably are amazing people, but they stick with their clicks and friends from birth, and it’s literally impossible to penetrate, and become one of them..They live in their bubble… Read more »

To 14
October 16, 2018 10:19 pm

It’s not just kids. It’s not the age but the maturity level and people caring to notice others.

It can get better
October 16, 2018 10:09 pm

I was in the same situation literally yesterday. The best tip I can give is to be proactive and never stop trying.

Include everyone
October 16, 2018 9:09 pm

Reach out and Include The quiet girls in conversations and ask their opinion and make them feel valued.

Better social education
October 16, 2018 7:58 pm

As someone that has gone through this as well I would like to suggest that perhaps better social education is needed and it is not totally other people’s fault sometimes these problems accrue when a person isn’t socially desirable obviously nobody is perfect and to be very clear my intention is not not to undercut education on the importance of Ahavas Yisroel, but this is a problem that’s been ignored for to long children “NEED” to be taught how to orient themselves in the world

October 16, 2018 7:26 pm

I was a loner in brhs. Not by choice. I did not have a flamboyant Bubbly personality . But I did have a huge smile and graciousness towards anyone that would accept it. But the rruth is, being nice in highschool just doesent cut it. My perrs had no patience to get to know me. Or to let me be a part of the crowd. If they did it was in a very condescending manner. In a nebach kimd of way. The head staff were just as guilty. If you were sensitive and didnt have the guts to talk up… Read more »

To #5 and #44 - Chavi’s Club
October 16, 2018 7:08 pm

Girls like you and the girl who wrote this poem inspire me to keep running Chavi’s Club – an Ahavas Yisroel awareness program. I’ve heard remarkable stories of how it has changed the lives of many girls.

Except for number 24
October 16, 2018 6:24 pm

Except for number 24 there are a lot of positive comments with excellent advice. I’m not sure what compels people like 24 who identify themselves as a Lubatvicher of the Rebbe to think and even worst express such negativity but I’ve learned over the years that their level of spirituality has no nexus to mine

To #23
October 16, 2018 5:28 pm

That isn’t helping the girl or giving her encouragement.

To Mrs. Swerdlov,
I personally don’t suggest she goes to her michaneches. Basically every michaneches of the class is very busy because they teach all 120 girls of the grade. Some michanecheses teach 3 grades. Don’t think she will get too far besides for the michaneches givin g her 2 minutes of pity while the girl feels uncomfortable telling her she has no friends

@ #30
October 16, 2018 5:27 pm

It’s coming to the other schools in CH

Comment 38
October 16, 2018 5:22 pm

Very well said. You put my thoughts into words

I feel you
October 16, 2018 5:18 pm

I have so much to say on this because I went through the same thing in BR. And I know it’s just not the popular thing to talk to anyone outside your group. And even if you do make an effort to talk to girls it can still be so hard and upsetting because it feels like everyone is acting very cold. It drove me mad because these girls all need bodyguards to walk around with. To go somewhere alone is social suicide. But honestly it’s ridiculous, when you get older you realize that it doesn’t really matter anymore and… Read more »

Br student
October 16, 2018 4:56 pm

I totally feel and understand this girl there are tons of clicks and groups in br even if they’re not trying to be mean they just are! What bothers me is that we have so many subjects and test etc yet not one of them mentions ahavas Yisroel or tznius which are to major issues. And even though it’s only the beginning of the year , still before any other subjects should come the most important.

Chavi's Club
October 16, 2018 4:52 pm

I’m in high skl and BH I always had friends pretty much and I never rlly noticed or paid attention to the other girls who just floated around but thanks to the program I began to say hi to them and I realized that you can find something to talk about with everyone. Guys – just say hi. A real hello can go a long way. It doesn’t mean you have to become best friends.

Smile and offer warmth: take the risk!
October 16, 2018 4:01 pm

It is never wasted.
Sometimes a warm smile from afar can melt ice that the cleverest one-liner cannot penetrate.

October 16, 2018 3:58 pm

First year zal boys are generally age 17 (I know; my son is in first year zal), which is below drinking age in most states, as far as I know.
It’s better to advise that the “outsider”-feeling guys share other treats without alcohol; ‘can probably break the ice just about as well!
Some mesivtas and zals have a serious enough problem with alcohol; no need to add to it just to make friends….

start with camp
October 16, 2018 3:36 pm

As an out of town parent, I always felt it was very very important to send my girls to our chabad camps. That’s where they made the friends they would have in high school. It worked.
I hope this site will help your daughter and that she has a much better end of year than beginning. Hazlacha.

Feel so much for this young girl who is obviously a young shlucha
October 16, 2018 3:14 pm

Can you imagine that girls who are living in non frum communities far from family and any jewish same age friends being through school online for their pre high school years and look in so much forward to finding a social life with frum friends and then the let down of being excluded from walks and shabbos invitatations and just even conversations!

Not all high school girls
October 16, 2018 3:03 pm

Im sorry for your experience.
I am in BRHS in CH, and i had/have a wonderful mechaneches who really cares for everyone of her students!!

She made me feel needed and valuable!

Sad but true:(
October 16, 2018 1:48 pm

If you’re reading this article you’ve probably felt the same way and experienced or are experiencing a sense of loneliness and hurt that is silenced or you’re trying to help someone in that situation. But in any case…. As a traveling out of towner to a crown heights school I never really had a very settled feeling about school in general. What was worst was coming to school and feeling lonely. I have to admit I’m not the most outgoing person but over the years I learnt that I would have to be the one to take initiative and join… Read more »

@ number 13
October 16, 2018 1:41 pm

Your married , why do u need friends or a community ? my husband and I were always so much happier hanging out together . why spend the evening apart for friends ? Weddings are a nightmare with music blaring or out of town long boring speeches… don’t get me started on Bar Mitzvas where the hosts think we are interested in a video of their sons baby pictures ! We never go and have long stopped getting invited anywhere ( TG) .
parents , sisters , cousins and now my grown up kids is all i want .

Shliach To 24
October 16, 2018 1:27 pm

I feel bad for you that you are so far from understanding the journey, of a Jew be coming frum…. It is absolutely not a choice to become frum, Shabbos, Yom Tov, Torah and Mitzvohs, were given equally to all Jewish people at Mount Sinai, A Shliach or any Yid im that hands the match for a person to light up their neshomos, has every achrayus to be there…If a person still needs that warmth. It’s no different to a parent/ child relationship.

lubavitch senior girls school London England
October 16, 2018 12:30 pm

This school is known for the Achdus amongst the girls. It was like that when i was there and is still the same for my girls! Rabbi Lew was and is the most unbelievable person ,head master . He is kind to the girls , caring for each individual and this shows ! Mrs freeman and Mrs Junik are amamzing too as are the teachers ! This school is chassidishe , orderly and fair. each girls is an individual , not judged by money ,looks, academic excellence .The girls are treated equally and again this shows in the girls and… Read more »

LOVE #23
October 16, 2018 12:08 pm

100% TRUE

24 hack of goyish nonsence
October 16, 2018 12:02 pm

thats a nice way to be mekarev newcomers. “its your choice.” haha you make it sound like number 13 brought this burden upon themselves. as if frumkeit was a burden! shame on you! i dont think that number 13 davka means that the husband expects aliyos and shabbos invites. its just to prove a point. of course no one “owes” them that but as fellow jews they are owed love and respect. THATS HALACHA YOU AM HAARETS! and one more thing. you have to be frum. GD SAID SO. so what does that mean “its your choice?” for making the… Read more »

Make yourself who you want to be
October 16, 2018 11:50 am

My daughter went as an out of towner to BR and knew no one. Within a week she had made some initial friendships. Within a month she had fit right in with the rest of the girls. A lot is about how you react and how you behave in the situation. You have no control over your classmates but you do have over yourself and your reaction to them.

To number 12. (Addendum to 25 yrs later)
October 16, 2018 11:32 am

You end off by saying “it can’t be terrible forever ”
Sometimes all 4 yeaes of HS feels like forever…
And 25 yrs later there still is an after affect of 4 lonely years of HS….
Just saying….

To # 5
October 16, 2018 11:27 am

What is Chavi’s club? Perhaps other high schools can do the same?

25 years later...
October 16, 2018 11:25 am

So sad. I could have written this poem 25 years ago. I thought these thoughts every day during my silent walk from school to home. 5 days a week. Precisely my experience. Really sad that nothing mich has changed. And to number 12 – about no one wanting to go out of their comfort zone…. BINGO! THAT’S PRECISELY THE PROBLEM. No one wanting to go out of their comfort zone… As long as I’m comfy…. Let someone else have the title of “neb” if I go out of my comfort zone, and reach out, then I’ll be classified as “neb”… Read more »

to #13
October 16, 2018 11:15 am

These things absolutely happen to people from all different backgrounds, in all different places, and are most often not maliciously done. Really, enough with this :”they did this because I was a Baal Teshuva…” As one commentor wrote, one of the key reasons for this is lack of proper awareness, it also has to do with personalities of all involved, and that a lot of times people get so busy with their own lives, they have trouble thinking of others. And it also helps if we learn how to respectfully share when we are being hurt. Until Moshiach comes, things… Read more »

to #24
October 16, 2018 11:13 am

After you wrote your comment it was YOUR, CHOICE to click “post”. Thank you for writing a very positive and sensitive comment.

#13. Feel for you. hang in there.

Be the one who reaches out to the other lonely girls
October 16, 2018 11:03 am

What worked for me in school was becoming the giver. Instead of focusing on who wants to be friends with me, and trying to climb up the social ladder, I made it my job to seek out the girls who were lonelier, sitting by themselves, or getting bullied. I ended up with lots of great friends that way! (I even had mothers come up to me and thank me for being the only one who bothered befriending their daughter…) Try it, you might be surprised by how many other amazing ppl are also looking for a friend!

@21 rules number 2 & 3 as well...
October 16, 2018 10:25 am

2 Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
3 Make friends with people who want the best for you

#Petersonism #12rules

to #13
October 16, 2018 10:20 am

it was YOUR CHOICE to become frum. No one “made you” and no one owes you.

@13 Humanity is flawed. Good morning.
October 16, 2018 9:55 am

It isn’t just CH, it isn’t just chabad, it isn’t just Jews, it isn’t just Americans, it isn’t just men it usually isn’t just woman. Humans are flawed, life is complicated! We can either focuse on the good in our community, and there is a lot to focuse on (just open your eyes) I used to be highly critical of our community, many things upset me and then I realised we have a community! do you know how many people don’t! And out of all the communities in this world we have one of the greatest, just look how the… Read more »

Boys too
October 16, 2018 9:17 am

My son went to a zal with three other boys from his mesivta. Along came a cliquey group of 16 New Yorkers (from a supposedly top Mesivta – that must teach a lot of gemara but the part in chassidus about ahavas yisrael apparently wasn’t internalized). They made it extremely uncomfortable for all the small groups and boys who came solo. Thankfully, my older son suggested that a few 6-packs of beer will help him “break the ice” with the other guys. To the author: It’s hard. I totally empathize with you. Try to put your feelings aside and break… Read more »

A few ideas...
October 16, 2018 8:57 am

I am extreamly sympathetic towards you and I can’t imagine what you are going through because I don’t know you. Something I learned very quickly in life is you can’t change other people and you most certainly can’t change society. The only person you can change is you! I’m not saying what you are going through is your own problem CH’V even when others are at fault you still can’t change them, here’s what you can do: *stop looking for friends you don’t need others to be the best you, that said you do still need a social life *Broaden… Read more »

I'm an adult and not surprised!
October 16, 2018 8:29 am

Many adults in Chabad remind me of overgrown teenagers still in high school. Cliquish, superficial, showing off on social media to their friends. Maturity, not even close. These are little kids in adult bodies.

to #13
October 16, 2018 7:57 am

I live in CH for many years and have tons of family and extended family here, but at times feel so lonely. I have friends but do not feel that I really belong to any group of friends.. I feel part of CH yes but have no close friends.. I am Lubavitch from way back, Russian background and all. I am not a teenager but a senior citizen

miryam swerdlov
October 16, 2018 7:46 am

my heart hurts for this girl, and others like her.
in BR there is a mechaneches for every CLASS, not grade, and she is reachable, and can and does help.
please reach out to your daughter’s class mechaneches. Thats’ why she is there, to help the students achieve their goals, socially and academically.
and btw, i felt that way in Bais Yaakov for years……..

To #13
October 16, 2018 7:16 am

I’m so sorry you’re experiencing that. That’s awful.

Out of towner
October 16, 2018 6:55 am

I would say – take responsibility for your feelings, own them and do something about it. Ideally, transfer to another smaller, friendlier out of NYC school. Changing existing schools and communities will take a very long time.

October 16, 2018 6:02 am

Something has to be done!

kids are mean
October 16, 2018 4:10 am

mate face it kids are cruel

I have news for you
October 16, 2018 3:45 am

Adults feel the same way. Not just in CH, we moved to a new community and we are treated like we don’t fit in. Everyone knows who to come to for help or tzedaka but do they give my husband an aliyah on Shabbos? Do they talk to me in shul, or invite us to simchos or even for a Shabbos meal? When they need someone to clean up after a shiur or to host something or to sponsor a N’shei event or a kiddush in shul, then miracle of miracles – they know our phone number. Make ’em frum… Read more »

I have answers but cant figure out how to implement it... evern for myself
October 16, 2018 3:02 am

The kid is probably an out of towner boarding at a school like Beis Rivka where it’s hard to be noticed unless you make a point of it. It’s hard. I can totally relate to this girl. I moved to a new school for high school and I can’t say I have no friends – I already knew people previously, but I definitely haven’t made any new friends… social issues are the worst because everyone needs friends to function but figuring out how isn’t always as intuitive as it seems. It’s the balance between actively reaching out and not seeming… Read more »

one thing struck me
October 15, 2018 11:04 pm

This is extremely sad, but if this is the situation, why is this kid away from home? (indicated by the presence of a roommate)

Better to be at home and go to an unideal school (or homeschool) and at least feel like you are cared about and belong somewhere!

October 15, 2018 10:48 pm

unfortunately in being alone you are not alone…there are so many girls in high school suffering in silence (myself included) i hope your high school years pass by quickly. and yes, sometimes silence is worse than words

October 15, 2018 10:33 pm

It’s sad that high school girls have 10 subjects, including koidesh and lehavdil choil, all said and done with different teachers, so there really isn’t an address of authority or a mentor who both knows them well and is close enough to them to form a deep relationship.

Ideally, this mother would turn to a lead staff member who would discreetly arrange for movement in this direction, because the problem isn’t a lack of ahavas yisroel on the part of the girls or callousness c’v but one of awareness.

Thanks for the poem!
October 15, 2018 10:32 pm

Hopefully your poem will encourage Ahavas Yisroel. I totally understand you, I went through this when I was in high school felt the same way.

Agree 1000 percent
October 15, 2018 10:18 pm

So true, you can’t even imagine..

Very powerful
October 15, 2018 9:27 pm

I think this poem can be shared by teachers to their students so they can get a glimpse of how some of their classmates may feel and open their hearts and look out for others. Thank you auther for sharing something powerful and real, that can bring such necessary awareness in this area.

Chavi’s Club
October 15, 2018 9:06 pm

If there had been Chavi’s Club in her class, she never would have felt this way. I used to feel so alone too, but since Chavi’s Club everything has become so much better for me

Great Poem
October 15, 2018 9:05 pm

Thank you Collive for publishing this piece. We need more awareness on this topic. Scary that the author is also bullied at the dorm. She should speak to a social worker in school or in Crown Heights and a professional should observe the class and make some changes to improve the situation.

I feel for you
October 15, 2018 8:53 pm

IMHO Lubavitcher girls in general tend to stick with their friends and it’s hard to infiltrate their circles. My advice is to do what I’ve always done and I’m very popular: I walk up to people and engage them in conversation. That’s how you make friends. Be friendly first. Most Chabad girls are cliquey but will accept you if you infiltrate their cliques on your own. Don’t wait for people to come to you. I go to people and some girls I know do too, but it’s rare in the Chabad world which is crazy as we’re taught to go… Read more »

I want to just add that it's not only high school girls
October 15, 2018 8:17 pm

Take a look around your community, your shule, your street, your building and you will see many newcomers, or old comers who simply are waiting for YOU to reach out to them and be a friend.

High school girl who's been in the same situation
October 15, 2018 8:12 pm

So true! I also have been in the same situation! Girls can be silent bullies, by excluding, ignoring and not treating you like a mentch! People have to realise that they need to take Ahavas Yisrael to heart, they can make or break people with their actions!

It's so sad to hear
December 3, 2020 3:02 am

I’m a teacher myself, and I think it’s so important to be aware of this point. Thank you!

The feeling of loneliness
December 3, 2020 3:47 am

I know this feeling that you are alone, it’s bad feeling. you are want to run and to disappear from the world. There were days, I felt this at the age of 12, I came and went and it’s not interesting nobody in school. I grew up and understood that needs to be published this and everyone will know to love all Israel!

sad but true
December 3, 2020 12:05 pm

 I am a student, in high school, and unfortunately I know this feeling very well.  It is very sad that people often do not notice to their society. I know the feeling of loneliness. when I was in  9th grade I was  feeling very lonely, because I did not know anyone in my class. And no one “saw” me. I really like the poem, it is very true.  We must stop this situation by explaining to people the effect they have on others.

good luck
December 5, 2020 11:01 am

There were days when I felt the same way And even now there are times like this. Hope everything’s okay now And have a lot of success.. I understand you very much.

Never give up
December 5, 2020 4:36 pm

Wow, first I’m want to tell you that i understand you and i have same experience in my past . i changed my life and repented and because that i was must to change my school. In the new school the girls wasn’t love me or speak me . I felt so bad because that and I want to tell you “NEVER GIVE UP” and in the end everything be OK.

Last edited 3 years ago by Never give up
December 6, 2020 4:05 am

WOW, its so sad to hear that..
Im sure that its a bad feeling to be alone.
I hope that u feeling better now!!
Good luck for you (: