Need love and support


Need love and support


your avatar   Sophia, 14 years old

It all started 4 years ago. My life started going downhill when I started to feel sadder and less loved. I tried to brush it off but as I got older, my family's and friends' expectations of me got higher and higher, and now, I can't make anyone happy. I cry myself to sleep almost every night and sometimes during the day, hiding so nobody can see me. My family expects good grades, good behavior, good everything of me. Even an A- isn't good enough for them, I've found. I tried to tell them how I have been feeling, but they interrupt me ten seconds in, tell me I am overreacting and leave.

I can't even turn to my friends at school. I am known as the weird, ugly girl. Even my friends tell me that people only hang out with me because of them. When I am myself, I am laughed at, even by my friends. But I have to keep acting stupid like I don't know, because I know that if I did decide to stop "being their friend," they would just move on. I have to ignore the whispers and giggles because I need people, even people who are pretending. I feel used and useless at the same time. Who am I really? Even the other "unpopular" girl at my school has tons of friends who are truly her friend; she literally has a whole table full of them, whereas I have three who don't actually like me, they even said so themselves.

I feel like a failure, like nobody cares about me. My love languages are physical touch and positive affirmations, but I haven't gotten either for so long. I feel dead inside. Everyone hates me. I need someone to actually physically be my friend, I need someone to talk to and to hug me and tell me everything will be alright! I need it so bad! But I can't get it. I don't know what I'm going to do now, let alone in the future. I'm moving to an elite school next year and it is full on, let me tell you. And I'm going to fail! I have trouble finishing assignments on time now, let alone with heaps of elite challenging work next year. I even sit down doing everything they tell me to do when I study, and I literally cannot write a word! Somebody, please help me! I have been looking up suicide methods and I'm scared. I'm scared of my brain and of myself and I hate them both too. What do I do!


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Sophia, my dear,

I can't give you a hug, but I am here for you. If you want to, you can join my global group of grandchildren.

You are obviously highly intelligent, that's why you are being moved to an elite school. I know that's scary, but you can do it. There, you will meet kids with interests you probably share, kids you can relate to at a higher level. Look at it as an opportunity to find friends who can fill the gaps that now drag you down.

My guess is the reason kids at your current school look at you as weird, laugh at you and ostracize you is that their minds work at a much lower level. You need to act stupid because you are way too smart. That difference will disappear at the elite school. Liberation!

Let me tell you, when I was 14 I was also terribly depressed - only I didn't know it. I just knew I was stupid and ugly, and anything I tried was guaranteed to fail, and no one could possibly love me. I knew that kids were only friendly to me in school because I was good at fighting (I only fought the bullies, and protected kids who were being picked on). I lived alone without a family in a migrant hostel, and felt that if I died, no one would miss me.

All of these beliefs of mine were FALSE FALSE FALSE. In fact, eventually I became dux of my school, and my "Leaving Certificate" results were in the top 200 in NSW, and I earned a Ph.D. So, I wasn't stupid. Looking at old pictures I can see I was not ugly; I was as OK as anyone else. And yes, often when I tried something new I stuffed it up, but I also discovered that if someone else could do it, I could learn it. And over time, lots of people have loved me. I am pretty sure that your list of reasons for sadness is equally open to question. I know where you are now because I've been there myself - and one day, you can be where I am now.

Your IQ is not just a tool for getting good marks at school. It is also a tool for solving life problems. That's how I eventually dragged myself out of depression. Pick a problem. For example, "my family's expectations of me are too high." You are right: such pressure can break a person. If they want you to do well, they need to give you support, empathy, and permission to make mistakes. A chess world champion (Capablanca) said, "You can learn a lot more from the games you lose than from the games you win."

OK, they diss you and don't listen to you. That's a practical problem. How do you communicate your feelings and needs? I don't know your relatives and I don't know your situation, but you do. Devise a method. Maybe it's a carefully worded letter. If you choose that, you could write a draft and email it to me, and together we can make it as good as possible. Another example: I don't know why you believe yourself to be ugly, but you can get rid of this issue for life if you choose to go by this little poem:

Beauty is a tree.

Inner beauty is the timber that makes a tree a tree.

Outer beauty is only the bark, of no use whatever.

You can generate inner beauty by doing your best to understand where each person is coming from. You can then be the sunshine in their lives by giving them what they need, subtly and without appearing to. If someone feels inferior to you, trick them into feeling good about themselves without them noticing. That's where intelligence is very useful. If someone is struggling with a math problem, offer to give them a hand and, without any superiority or arrogance, help them to understand how to do it. If someone is very pleased with some minor achievement (something that you could do with your eyes closed and your hands tied behind your back), then give your congratulations, and show genuine pleasure that they did so well. After all, this kid has done a personal best, and there is no point in comparing it to what you can do. This involves learning a set of skills. It takes thought to design the tasks, practice, and then think about it so you can improve. The rewards will be enormous.

With hugs,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


Boost your intrapersonal intelligence through medication, yoga, or by taking personality tests.
"Sometimes you have to just hang on and trust that life's storms are carrying you to better shores."
Jane Lee Logan
Your purpose in life is whatever you decide it is.