Ask Anaya – REAL Letters from REAL Students – Friendship-making Anxiety, Test Prep, and Rejection


Dear Anaya,

How do you deal with the anxiety of making friends in high school? I feel like everyone already has their own cliques and friend groups and it’s hard to become a part of them. I’m trying to make new friends after losing mine right before my first year of high school but I don’t know where to start.

-Friendless Freshman

Dear Friendless,

As someone who went through this exact situation my freshman year, let me start by saying I’d never ever want anyone to EVER feel this way, if there’s anything further I can do to help, I am a simple email away 🙂 However, it is inevitable that it WILL be better because there are so many kind people in this school that I am sure would LOVE you.

Joining clubs and sports is a great way to get started. I met my absolute best friend (hey Averill) doing theater and gymnastics. I’ve made close relationships with people I never even spoke to just from doing band. What I am trying to say is, even when hope seems to be lost, the right people will find you, and you will find them once you’re put in a healthy environment. Don’t force yourself onto the lacrosse team if you’re afraid. Start small like the Gaming or Warriors clubs. In smaller groups, you are bound to interact with someone who has similar interests as you.

Cliques are real, but not absolute which is why joining clubs, sports, and fun classes are so important. You may find someone you never thought you could be friends with to be incredibly approachable! Entering a space that feels right for you allows really anyone to thrive because confidence comes with comfortability.

You do not have to strike up a full conversation, but giving someone a compliment is always a good way to start.

Lastly, understand that not every friend will last. Not everyone is compatible. People grow apart for reasons, some obvious in the moment and some you’ll recognize years down the road.



Dear Anaya,

I need a good way to study and stay focused. Do u have any advice? What is the best way to study for History class? What environment should I be studying in? What is the most efficient way I can memorize information and get the most from my textbook without writing a full lengthy outline of the whole chapter? How do I start preparing for AP exams? How do you survive AP classes…. or physics H????

-Hard Working Student

Dear Hard Working Student,

When enrolling in honors and AP courses, you trust your ability to learn through challenges. Here are some study tips for these kinds of classes!

Physics and Chemistry are subjects you can relate to real life. In class, try making real world connections with things. Ex: learning about boiling and freezing points, consider the things that happen while you cook. I never took Physics, but when asking around, the process is very similar to Chem. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. No question is stupid because it’s for YOUR benefit, and shows you’re taking initiative in your education. Also, you may be helping someone else who’s afraid to ask these questions. Now when learning equations, I’ve found that breaking it down into sections helps with not only understanding it, but memorizing it. Maybe working with a peer can help because their explanation may reach you in a way that a teacher’s words may not!

When studying through a textbook, you should know what you’re studying for. If you have a test or quiz, focus on what you don’t know in that chapter. I like to look for keywords first. When chapters become really long, find a phrase you’re unsure of. Then begin reading that section while taking notes. I like to keep Safari open so I can see how other people have interpreted it as well. Working with a buddy or researching different explanations provides alternative ways to think about what you don’t know. Next, review. If you feel confident in something, great! But to stay safe, find a quizlet or test yourself on the whole chapter once you feel comfortable. Lastly, come into class with any questions that were not cleared up the night before. If all else fails, you can pester your teacher until you understand entirely… that’s what they’re here for!

Preparing for AP exams is almost identical to any test you’ve ever taken before. As long as you take detailed notes during class and practice study habits that work for you, you’ll be set. Use your study halls to meet with your teachers. Find old AP tests online. WATCH VIDEOS, TOO! Sometimes both reading and listening helps. But studying is difficult when you’re not in the right location/mindset. Practice relaxation techniques, making sure you take frequent breaks (as needed) is important because it’ll allow you to feel less stressed with the amount of stuff you need to know. Work in different areas and pick your favorite one. Personally, I loved staying in the library as an underclassman, and as a senior I spent the majority of my day studying in the LGI. I don’t work well at home, but some people do! Try new study habits and keep yourself focused.

Also DON’T CRAM. It was the worst possible thing I could have done for myself. Instead, review key parts in chapters. If you’re already concerned, begin studying earlier. If studying is hard to get into, start with going to extra help after school.

In summary, try a combination of real world connections, taking advantage of in school resources, chunking the topics you need to study, and listening to different ways people understand your topic. This way, something is bound to work, and you can find a habit fit for you!

Good luck!



Dear Anaya,



Dear, Anon

HEY! Well first, give yourself a pat on the back for confidence. Although rejection hurts, it’s important to know that with each time you put yourself out there, you gain more confidence, even if it’s a little speck, like glitter!

Understanding that there is an opportunity for rejection in any situation helps with this process. Don’t let your fear of rejection prevent you from going forward; it’s a part of life! Instead, taking this “loss” as a personal win helps. But that’s easier said than done. What if you’re really hurt? Give yourself the space to feel those feelings. Maybe lean on a friend to vent and remain in those feelings. But don’t get so caught up in pain that you allow yourself to forget that this is a part of life, and that you’ve actually gained something from this seemingly confidence shattering experience.

Try to understand WHY you’re feeling the level of hurt that you are, so going forward, you can teach yourself how to deal with rejection. Everyone is different, so that is why remaining in your feelings for a good period of time is so good, because you get to learn about yourself. You learn what hurts you and why. You find the best coping mechanisms for you along the way. But don’t allow yourself to forget that this is a part of life, and that you’ve actually gained something from this seemingly confidence shattering experience.

Your confidence is astounding; rejection is a step toward self discovery, so using this to get a kickstart on getting to know yourself, I would say is the healthiest way to deal with it.

Best of luck,



Dear Anaya,

What advice do you have for students struggling with motivation in school? I need a good way to study and stay focused. Do you have any advice?

-Multiple people


Hey guys!

This is an incredibly good question because the skill of staying focused and motivated will carry on throughout your life. 

Staying focused and motivated is particularly difficult when you either dislike school or your classes. Im gonna do a list of things other people and myself do rather than a large paragraph 

    1. Working in school: Oftentimes, when we get home from school we want to do nothing because homes are either comforting, or just not school at all and you are no longer in that mindset. Try staying after school in the library, doing homework during study halls and lunch, or taking advantage of class time. This way, you have nothing else to do BUT your school work. Over time, it’ll become a habit and even fun because you know afterwards, you’ll have the majority of the evening to yourself
    2. Working with a friend: Sometimes, having another person push you motivates you to continue working because you have someone there FOR that purpose. You’ll have someone to talk to as well as help you with your homework if need be. It’s good to note that while it is ok to talk to your friends, time can fly very quickly so having someone who is also motivated by your side may be a good idea. I like to work with my friends in the library, Dunkin, or even outside at one of our houses. Again, being somewhere that forces you to continue working is a wonderful thing, and coupled with the addition of another person, both motivation and focus can be accomplished this way
    3. Taking breaks: Sitting for 3 hours is just…. No. Unless you can do that then SLAY! But it’s not desirable for many people. Regardless of your location whether that be home or somewhere else, breaks are important. Information can get jumbled, maybe you get overwhelmed, or maybe you just hate what you’re workin on. Maybe set a timer for yourself. Periods are 45 minutes here, so maybe take a break every 45 minutes to reset your brain. Or maybe if you get overwhelmed with your English homework, take a break and do some Math. Taking a step back from any task as reassessing and another point not only keeps you focused and calmer, but your work will be better. It’s been proven that taking a break includes both your work and work ethic. 
    4. Get excited!: My absolute favorite thing to do is to find something that I am excited to do during the day. Starting the day off with some loud, good music can definitely set the tone for your whole day and make you feel more awake. Maybe it’s seeing your friend, playing chess with Mr. Mullane, or even your outfit. Literally anything that brings you joy, think about that. We are emotional and social creatures, so getting excited by something or someone can increase your mood, which can then increase your motivation. By being in a good mood, or looking forward to something, you’re more likely to continue doing your work to either pass time, or because you don’t mind it as much.
    5. Plan your day: Time for yourself is probably the most important thing, otherwise how will you relax!? That being said, create an agenda for days where you know you’ll be busy. Write it down, make a mental note, however you see fit. I like to tell myself that before I move onto the next part of my day, I should at least be able to finish my math homework. I think this strategy works well with getting excited because you can look forward to the next part of your day whether it’s the next part starting, or you not being able to wait for it to be over. So this can tackle both motivation and staying focused
    6. Listen to the right music: Sometimes we listen to music when we work, which is great! I’m not saying listen to lofi-study music, but maybe let’s not burst Yet while we work… Some songs or genres can distract people from work, while others keep someone motivated. Maybe listen to music lower, or something you don’t know the words to. This way you can’t be distracted too much

Overall, for motivation, the things that make you excited will reflect in your desire to complete your tasks. By utilizing your personal interests as motivation to complete tasks, you may find yourself quickly enjoying mundane things like homework or chores. Having a good idea of what you need to do, and what you need to accomplish that makes the effort seem less taxing. So, to make things easier and more enjoyable would absolutely be a great place to start!



Anaya Ask Anaya is an advice column to advise people on how to deal with their concerns and issues in the most positive way possible. I try my best to ensure that they will make decisions that will help them move forward on the right path. I hope you will write to me, in confidence, seeking my guidance. Just a reminder: I will not disclose any information sent to me. What you write will always remain anonymous. I encourage you to be creative with your usernames and send feedback so that this column will be successful in helping those who seek advice. You can email me at [email protected] or drop a note in our standing metal mailbox outside of the Art rooms. I look forward to reading your letters.