Friends Forever: Shannon’s Tips for Navigating Tricky Friendships

NOTE: This post is sponsored by HarperCollins.

Growing up can be SO complicated, especially when it comes to friendships! If you’ve read the best-selling graphic novels Real Friends and Best Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, you know that Shannon is always juggling friend troubles, finding her passions, and feeling like she’ll never fit in anywhere.

In Friends Forever, the newest book in the series, Shannon is now in eighth grade, and things are more challenging than ever. She starts the year excited for a fresh start with new friends by her side, ready to take on her final year of middle school with her head held high. But life isn’t always so simple, and things start to get complicated fast. Surrounded by friends who are acting in tv commercials and starting to go on dates, she feels like all her friends are prettier and more successful than she is, and Shannon starts feeling the pressure to be perfect and struggling with her self-esteem. Her self-doubt and anxiety become so overwhelming that it begins to affect her grades, her interests, and even her friendships – and she’s left feeling more alone than ever and worried she might not ever be enough.

Friends Forever book cover

Following up their mega-bestselling Real Friends and Best Friends graphic memoirs, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham are back with Friends Forever, a story about learning to love yourself exactly as you are.

Shannon is in eighth grade, and life is more complicated than ever. Everything keeps changing, her classmates are starting to date each other (but nobody wants to date her!), and no matter how hard she tries, Shannon can never seem to just be happy.

As she works through her insecurities and undiagnosed depression, she worries about disappointing all the people who care about her. Is something wrong with her? Can she be the person everyone expects her to be? And who does she actually want to be?

With their signature humor, warmth, and insight, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham have crafted another incredible love letter to their younger selves and to readers everywhere, a reminder to us all that we are enough.

Friends Forever
AUTHOR: Shannon Hale
PUBLISHER: First Second
DATE: August 31, 2021

Shannon isn’t the only one starting a new school year and facing friendship woes and insecurities. We know that lots of you are too, which is why we asked Shannon to share some of the lessons she’s learned over the course of Best Friends, Real Friends, and Friends Forever to send you into this school season feeling confident and ready to tackle any friendship struggles that come your way. Whether you’re drifting from old friends or struggling to make new ones, Shannon can relate and is here to help!

Written by Friends Forever author Shannon Hale, here are six friendship tips inspired by the book to help you navigate all your trickiest friendship moments this year.

Shannon’s Friendship Tips:

Hi, I’m Shannon, and I’ve had my share of friend troubles. Here are a few tips I’ve learned for navigating tricky friendships.

Friendship Can Come From Anywhere:

Sometimes I make friends with people who share my interests, like fellow theater people or book lovers. But sometimes a great friend is someone really different from me. We don’t have a lot in common, but we just love being together and have a lot of fun. I’m glad I didn’t let our differences stop me from making a truly great friend.

Friends Who Make You Feel Bad About Yourself Are Bad For You:

I spent years trying to make a friendship work that never did and never would. Almost every time I was with her, I was anxious, and I always left feeling awful about myself. I wish I’d listened to my gut and let that friendship go sooner.

A Friend Can Care About You But Be Wrong About You:

I spent a lot of time absorbing every criticism my friends and everyone else made of me. If only I could be perfect for them, I thought, I’d never lose them as friends and I’d be truly happy! But they’re as imperfect as I am, and they’re not always right. 

Now, I try not to shut myself off from helpful feedback, but I also try not to absorb everything. I briefly examine the feedback: Does this feel true? Is this helpful? Is this something I should take in? If the answer is no, then I let it go. No hard feelings for the friend who offered it. That’s just their opinion. And only I can decide what works best for me.

Sometimes We Need a Friendship Refresh:

I am a fiercely loyal person, and sometimes I have hung on to friendships too long, even when I knew it wasn’t working and I wasn’t happy. It can be scary, but starting a new school, a new club, a new year is a great time to look around and open up to new friends.

Unless We Love Ourselves, It’s Hard to Let Anyone Else Love Us:

This is a hard one but also the most important. For a long time, I didn’t really love myself. I absorbed all the negative feedback and was convinced I was worthless. And since I felt that way deep down, when others treated me badly, I kinda agreed with them. This is what I deserve. And when people were kind and seemed to genuinely like me, I was kinda suspicious of them. How could they actually like a worthless person? 

When I realized how bad it had gotten, I started to write myself little notes: I love you. The more I said it, the more I meant it. And in my own thoughts, I started to try to treat myself the way I would treat a good friend, and change came gradually. 

I hope you have an amazing year, keep your great friends, find new ones, and treat yourself like your best friend. – Shannon

Now that you know how to navigate even the toughest friendship struggles, find out your friendship vibe by taking our Friends Forever inspired friendship quiz HERE!

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