Tuesday 14 April 2015


Reader Elise asks Summer Tanberry for advice on friendship and self-esteem matters…

Elise says:
I'm fourteen and I'm shy and quiet and often excluded by my classmates. They say I am weird and make fun of me, although other people say I am skinny and pretty. Even my friends can be odd with me, so I feel left out with them also. I've tried several friendship groups over the last few years but I am always excluded in the end and I feel like my self-esteem and confidence is in tatters. People have said things to me like 'Nobody likes you,' and 'You have no friends.' I often feel like crying and telling someone about this but the truth is nobody cares, so I sometimes ending up making myself sick in the girl's bathroom. I feel like people might like me better if I was skinnier, although I know I am pretty skinny already. I feel so lonely; nobody likes me or cares about me.

Summer says:
Well, first of all, I care… and if I do, others will, too, I promise. You're trapped in a cycle of zero confidence and self-harm, because making yourself sick and denying yourself food to get skinnier all the time is a form of self-harm, believe me. Being thin won't solve your problems, it will only add to them - I am speaking from experience. It is hard to have strong, lasting friendships when your self-esteem is so low… I think this is what others are picking up on. If you don't like yourself, you cannot expect others to. How to change this? Cathy's book LETTERS TO CATHY has lots of tips on building confidence and self-esteem, but one tip that has helped me is to look in the mirror every morning and think some positive thoughts towards yourself, as you might to a friend you really like. Be kind to yourself… believe in yourself. Right now, I think your should talk to your family doctor about the way you're feeling and about the vomiting; these things cannot be ignored. Talk to your parents, to a counsellor, find some help and support. School days are supposed to be the best days of our lives but sometimes they can feel like the worst… luckily, though, they won't last forever.

Cathy says:
Good advice from Summer… would YOU add anything? What would you say to Elise to help her boost her confidence? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!


  1. I used to be like this, feeling all sorry for myself because nobody in my class liked me. But now, I look around and see them bitching about each other behind their backs in this constant wheel of gossip and backstabbing, and I'm kind of glad that I have a few real friends. People say I'm weird too, but I take it as a compliment...if I'm not like them by being weird if must be a good thing! Summer is right, though, Elise doesn't need to be thin to be happy. In fact, bratty jealous girls will probably make her feel worse for it, and vomiting is an awful way to go about losing weight. If you really have to, do it through eating healthily and exercising.I think she should try to expand her circle of acquaintances, maybe joining an out-of-school club to meet people away from the mean people in her class. Elise needs to think about all the good things about herself and the things around her...hopefully then she can make some friends that she deserves. Good luck, Elise!

  2. I also felt and sometimes still do feel a similar way. I spent most of my primary school years alone trying to cheer myself up by reading, sinning, talking to myself, etc. The truth is with or without friends loneliness still happens. The best way to try to feel more involved with people is to get to know certain people better, find someone in a similar situation as you. There's always someone out there, believe me. Also try to join in with people more, join it there discussions, games (etc), even if you have to plan ahead as weird as that may seem. Try to find someone who understand you, there is someone who understands but you need to look harder and keep yourself. Making yourself sick is not going to help you become skinny and even being skinny don't going to change what people think about you. As they say, people shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, anyone who thinks like that is definitely not an ideal friend!
    When the going gets tough just try hard to cary on and remember to join in with people as best as you can.
    -The shy girl (who no one thinks can speak)
    P.S. It's also good to tell someone about what's going on, it really helps.

  3. Have you ever thought about trying a youth group to be around new people away from those you know at school? Sometimes it will do you a world of good to be around a whole new set of people away from the peer pressures of schools: there are lots of local and national groups out there.

    I used to be like you, and then I started Girlguiding, and made some new friends that went to other schools. It was through Girlguiding that I found out about the Dove and World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) programme called Free Being Me, which teaches body confidence. It wasn't until I went on this course to learn how to deliver sessions that I realised how low my body confidence itself was. Through teaching this course, I've been able to increase my body confidence, which is a really positive thing.
    The resources are available online if you ever wanted to read them, just type free being me into google.

  4. Don't worry I've been through a similar situation my and my BFFS 'friend' drove my BFF to another school and invited then purposefully uninvited me to a limo at our year 6 junior prom and was generally mean to me she sort of manipulated me. Then at the same time girls calle me names behind my backs and well I just ignored it and the 'friend' is in my form on my table but luckily not in any of my classes:)



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