Looking for a bridge over troubled water? Krithvi Shyam, our young psychologist, addresses your worst anxieties.

I’m 14 year old girl with a great character. I was sarcastic and witty and everyone liked me. I used to have great friends who cared about me. Then I changed school, and made new friends. They didn’t understand me the way my old friends did but they at least accepted me as a part of their group. Then, just last year I found that my new friends were completely horrible; they were selfish and not trustworthy at all. They got tired of me and my personality.

Then I wormed my way into a new group. We are just three of us but I have completely abandoned my personality and had to put on multiple acts to make them like me. I am never myself nowadays and I barely have any real friends. I have become introverted. I have stopped smiling. Now I am unable to I couldn't go back to being my old self. All the acting, all the fake friends have changed me. In fact, I myself have become completely fake.

- HYSTERICAL

I think there are many levels of “fake-ness” , and from your letter, I’m not sure which extreme you’re talking about: the “Geez, that joke was terrible, but everyone else is laughing, so, er, hahaha!” or the “You have no idea how much of Gossip Girl I can relate to”. It’s one thing if you have to start expanding your interests to fit in with the others, but another if your group’s chief hobby is backstabbing everyone else. Are you being forced to do things you’re uncomfortable with? Or are your friends generally nice people, even if you don’t have too much in common? Sometimes sharing the same values is enough to be the basis for friendship. So after considering this, decide if you want to cut ties with them or not. You’ve noticed how your world can change dramatically in one year, so be open to new experiences and new friends. Over the holidays, enrol in classes (dance, music, languages) or do volunteer work, and try to meet more people. You are at an age when your personality is constantly undergoing changes. Let go of the person you were two years ago and concentrate on who you are right now. What are the qualities in you that you admire, and what are the ones you’d like to change? Start with those questions and see where they lead you, and don’t be harsh on yourself. You have plenty of time to become the person you want to be. And if you miss being “the nice witty kid”, start a blog and let your witticisms run amok online. However, remember that not everyone appreciates a “sharp tongue”.

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