Here at the Kantner Foundation, we know how important it is for high-achieving, college-bound young entrepreneurs like you to take all the AP classes, join all the after-school clubs, and play all the sports. We know you want to make your college application as shiny and inviting as possible. You’re a superstar student! Getting into the college of your dreams is the very least of what you deserve after working so hard in high school.
But – and trust us on this one – there’s more to life than high school success. Even for young entrepreneurs who launch and run an entire business in addition to everything mentioned above, you need more. And we mean, you need more.
You need friends
Human beings are naturally social creatures. We need each other. Teens, especially, function better in life with a solid squad of friends. Science backs this up:
- Having friends lowers your stress levels when you face a setback, like failing a test
- Social rejection activates the same part of your brain that lights up when you feel physical pain
- Friendships are natural boosts to your immune system
- Non-entrepreneurial friends keep you grounded and remind you to have fun sometimes!
Of course, at this stage of your life friendships – real friendships – can be tough to find, navigate, and maintain. You’re not a little kid anymore; you no longer rely on your parents to set up playdates for you. You’ve grown and changed since the days of elementary and even middle school. Everyone else has, too. Someone who used to be your best friend might now be into things you don’t like, or vice versa. Maybe you feel generally left out of social circles, or you find it hard to talk to people you don’t know well.
You’re not as alone as you think you are
Not only is all that ok, it’s totally normal. Really. Keep in mind:
- As you and your peers grow up and become more independent, more aware of the wider world around you, and start thinking about your futures, it’s only natural that you and your friends from before might branch off a bit from one another.
- When that happens, it’s also natural to want to surround yourself with people who are into the same things you’re into, whether it’s the school band, the track team, or entrepreneurship.
- Moving away from former friends doesn’t have to mean you can’t be friends anymore. It just takes more effort.
- Even so, feelings of hurt, abandonment, and even betrayal are perfectly normal.
- Jealousy is a major issue for teens. While logically you may understand that everyone has different circumstances and values, emotionally it may be difficult to process.
- All friendships take time to develop. Even if you were the most popular kid in junior high, that doesn’t always translate to high school.
Easier said than done
Yeah, yeah, it’s easy to be told that you need to get out there and make friends. But we know that in real life, that’s not always how it works. Some things to keep in mind:
- Nearly everyone else feels the same way you do. We promise. Look around at your peers: does everyone genuinely seem confident and happy, or are there underlying signs of stress, anxiety, loneliness, and desperation? There’s a saying that goes, “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with someone else’s highlight reel.” Just because someone’s life looks perfect on Instagram doesn’t mean that’s their reality.
- Everyone wants to be heard and understood. Before you dismiss potential new friends, try really listening to what they have to say. They might surprise you.
- Not every friend is a good friend. If you only surround yourself with certain people because you’re afraid of being alone or you don’t know how to not be their friend anymore, maybe it’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself.
- Everyone has their issues. Who knows what’s really going on inside the minds of your peers? Or at their homes? Try to be a little forgiving of others, but mostly be forgiving of yourself. On days that you feel terrible about yourself or berate yourself for not fitting in, someone else may be looking at you with jealousy that you seem to have it all together.
The first step in finding new friends is to find people you have things in common with. For young entrepreneurs, this means finding clubs, programs, and organizations focused on helping high schoolers network, build, and create.
The act of starting a business itself can lead to new friendships. Do you need to hire team members? Find a partner? Get someone to design your logo? Not all existing friendships make for good business partnerships, but a business partnership can lead to new friendships!
Don’t underestimate the adults in your life! There may be other students at your school that you don’t know or have only seen in passing, who may be the exact friend you need right now. How do you find out? You may have a common teacher who thinks you two would get along. You lose nothing by asking teachers and other administrators (like guidance counselors) to act as a “friend matchmaker.”
Start a club! Whatever your interest – gaming, helping animals, feeding the homeless – if your school doesn’t already have a club for it, find out about starting one. That’s an easy way to attract people who have common interests.
Finally, being a successful young entrepreneur means networking like a pro. The same skills you need on your entrepreneurial journey will also serve you well when seeking out new friends. When approaching a stranger, start with a compliment, stay positive, and be a good listener.
Don’t neglect your friends
Once you have your friend squad, keep them tight! Try not to let yourself get so wrapped up in your entrepreneurial journey that you let your friendships wither and die. Pay attention to the messages they’re sending you: do they miss you? Are you missing out on important social activities? Let them support you, but let them keep you down-to-earth, too. And when you achieve that success you deserve? They’ll be your first and biggest cheerleaders!
Florida’s young entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Learn more by clicking here!