Dear American Girl,

No one seems to know I exist at my school. I feel as if I just fade into the background while other people start up friendships or plan fun things to do with each other. I'm naturally shy, but I also want to start standing out. How can I shine in a sky of bright stars at my school?

Here's your advice:

You don't always have to have big, long conversations with people. Standing out can be as simple as smiling at someone in the hallway or waving at someone across the lunchroom. Do that, and then you can start standing out as a friendly girl in your school.
-Allison, age 13, Kansas

Don't expect to be an expert at making friends in just one day. Building confidence takes time and patience. Go slowly, and little by little, you might start feeling brave enough to make new friends.
-Ellen, age 12, New York

If people in your school aren't noticing you, think of it as their loss. You don't need to be super-outgoing or popular to make a difference. Remember, when you are truly yourself, you always shine like a star.
-Abby, age 13, Tennessee

I used to be very shy at school, but then I decided to take a chance by joining student council. I was nervous at first, but over time, I started to feel more comfortable sharing ideas and heading up projects. Student council has helped me feel less afraid to talk to others.
-Cassidy, age 11, Wyoming

You don't have to be a chatterbox to stand out. If you feel comfortable as a girl who tends to be quieter than most, then that's OK. You can still make friends and show your true self.
-Elle, age 12, Utah

Practice talking to people outside of school―for example, by placing an order with a server at a restaurant or calling a family member on the phone. When you feel more comfortable, strike up conversations at school.
-Paige, age 11, California

Being kind to others can help you feel good and more confident about yourself. Try small acts of kindness, such as helping pick up someone's dropped books or offering to help a classmate who's struggling with an assignment. Let what's inside do the talking, and you'll stand out in your own way.
-Lauren, age 12, Illinois

Whenever you feel invisible, don't wait for someone else to make the first move. Say hi to someone instead. Start a conversation by asking how the person's day is going or complimenting her on something she's wearing. It might brighten her day and start a new friendship, too.
-Zoe, age 10, Missouri

On your quest toward more self-confidence, don't try to copy anyone else. Just be your unique self, shyness and all.
-Miriam, age 12, Washington

I used to feel invisible, too. To work through my shyness, I started talking with the classmates I was assigned to sit next to, and that helped a lot. Then I got involved in a local club, and I started to talk to even more people. Now I hang out with friends and don't feel invisible anymore.
-Charis, age 9, Missouri

Don't forget that you are no different than anyone else. Even though you're shy, you have as much of a right as anyone to say hi to people and to start new friendships. If you show your friendly side, people might start opening up to you.
-Allie, age 11, Arizona

When I was younger, I felt jittery around people. Then one day, when I wanted to play with some kids, I said to myself, What's the worst that could happen? Someone won't want to play with me? There are plenty of other kids I can play with. This thinking has helped me make friends. I've learned that it's OK to be a little shy, as long as I'm not missing out on friendships.
-Amy, age 12, Minnesota

I have a disability, so some kids in my school think of me as "different." I've found that talking to a parent or an adult I trust about my feelings helps me overcome shyness.
-Melanie, age 11, California

You don't have to be friends with every kid in the school to shine your brightest. Friendships are great and could help you build your confidence, but something you love to do can help you be your truest self. Do you love to dance? Play tennis? Garden? If you follow your passion, you can shine even brighter without changing a thing.
-Charlotte, age 12, Texas

To build more confidence, all it takes are small steps. Introduce yourself to someone else who seems shy, or sit next to someone you'd like to know better at lunch. The more times you introduce yourself, the more confidence you can build and the less invisible you might feel. Good luck!
-Rosarie, age 13, Pennsylvania

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