DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl entering the eighth grade. Even though I have friends, I feel like I am invisible. Many of the people who claim I am their "friend" don't even take the time to call me. I could take the first step and call them, I suppose, but then I always feel like I'm not really their friend.
I have only one girlfriend whom I can call on for advice. Please help me, Abby. I have just spent a long, miserable summer with no one to talk to. I want to change that. When I'm in high school next year, I don't want to just fade into the shadows like in middle school. I could really use some advice. -- ALONE AND SHY IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ALONE AND SHY: Here it is. If you spent the entire summer waiting for people to call you, then it's no wonder you spent it alone. I know very few people who sit back, wallowing, as it were, in the adulation of others, while making no effort on their own behalf.
If you want to stand out in high school, you are going to have to become proactive in promoting yourself. An effective way to do that is to join clubs, become active in sports, activity groups, drama and/or student government.
In your signature line you identified yourself as "shy." Did you know that about one-third of the population is afflicted with shyness to some degree? It's true! And do you know why so many people are shy? Because they're afraid of rejection -- and holding back is the only way they think they can protect themselves from being hurt.
In my booklet, "How to Be Popular," I review topics including "The Art of Conversation," "The Friendly Personality," "Grooming," and what makes a clever conversationalist. If these are topics you would like to learn more about, my booklet can be ordered by sending a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Postage is included in the price. (Allow six to eight weeks for delivery.)