Author Topic: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)  (Read 3351 times)

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Jaelle

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I mentioned in the Prom Cling-On thread that I'd done a few things like the AG in the thread. I was a shy, geeky, lonely high schooler and thought I was doing the right thing.

It seemed like all the adults in my life told me to "Talk to people! Show an interest! They just think you like to be alone!" So I tried.

In hindsight, I probably butted in on conversations I wasn't privy to, tagged along with groups that probably didn't really want me, showed up at parties I hadn't been explicitly invited to and generally lingered on the edges, hoping to be let in. It didn't really work, but I was so proud that I was trying! I was being brave!

Oh, people were, for the most part, polite if cool about it. (And just quietly changed the time/place of the parties.) But now I look back and wince. 

Since reading that other thread, I've been wondering what sort of advice I'd give that high school me, or someone like me. I'm not coming up with much, even years later with an intrinsically different personality.

Thoughts?
“She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you.”
― Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

CreteGirl

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 08:43:43 PM »
I think the advice I would give is if you are the one doing all the work in the friendship and are doing all of the inviting, you need to take a step back.  If people keep making excuses on why they cannot attend activities you suggest, pay attention. 

People who want to spend time with you will make an effort to do so.

siamesecat2965

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2013, 08:50:04 PM »
I also think rather than trying to insert yourself into a group, get involved in something like volunteer work, clubs, etc. Something with activities, and you might be surprised at how many friends you find there.

CrochetFanatic

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 08:52:57 PM »
I mentioned in the Prom Cling-On thread that I'd done a few things like the AG in the thread. I was a shy, geeky, lonely high schooler and thought I was doing the right thing.

It seemed like all the adults in my life told me to "Talk to people! Show an interest! They just think you like to be alone!" So I tried.

In hindsight, I probably butted in on conversations I wasn't privy to, tagged along with groups that probably didn't really want me, showed up at parties I hadn't been explicitly invited to and generally lingered on the edges, hoping to be let in. It didn't really work, but I was so proud that I was trying! I was being brave!

Oh, people were, for the most part, polite if cool about it. (And just quietly changed the time/place of the parties.) But now I look back and wince. 

Since reading that other thread, I've been wondering what sort of advice I'd give that high school me, or someone like me. I'm not coming up with much, even years later with an intrinsically different personality.

Thoughts?

Only that I'd be interested to see what others might come up with, since I was never in the "In Crowd".  I couldn't post in the other thread because I simply can't be objective.  A life on the fringes is a lonely one.

Carotte

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2013, 08:53:54 PM »
Hum, maybe a two part answer, first it's nice to explain to shy teenager that 'virtual' friendships are still friendships. It's so much easier to find people with the same interests in the internet that being a part of a forum is a great way to socialise and meet new people.
Face-to-face interaction is always nice, but for some people it's not the answer.

Then, like CreteGirl said, the ability to take a step back and see if your tries at friendships are being reciprocated is an usefull thing to do.
For an highschooler (or even a working person) it's nice to test the water little by little, first a few words in the hallway, commiserating about the same thing, maybe a specific question.  Engage first in a non-commissional manner and see if the person in front react by answering and stopping the exchange or by answering and continuing the exchange.

Library Dragon

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2013, 08:57:59 PM »
Find something you genuinely enjoy and join groups/clubs surrounding that interest.  You will have gotten across the biggest hurdle by sharing a common interest. 

I was painfully shy and didn't have much opportunity or support for clubs, but I had two in high school:

1.  Theater in high school.  Ironically I never knew what to say.  Being in theater with a scrpt of words to say helped. 

2.  NRA hunter safety classes.  Yep!  I liked helping others learn to be responsible firearms owners.

Be realistic.  You won't get along with everyone and it won't be perfect.  You will have a better chance to make friends when you already like the same things.  Volunteering will help you meet a rotating group of people. 

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Jaelle

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 09:00:33 PM »
Hum, maybe a two part answer, first it's nice to explain to shy teenager that 'virtual' friendships are still friendships. It's so much easier to find people with the same interests in the internet that being a part of a forum is a great way to socialise and meet new people.
Face-to-face interaction is always nice, but for some people it's not the answer.

Very true. I wish I'd had a few more internet options back in the 1990s. :)  Today ... maybe it would be different. Being a sci-fi-loving, fantasy-reading geek in a small town back then just made me unbearably different.

The one thing I would love to tell then-me: Don't change for anyone. Your real friends will like you the way you are, geeky hobbies and all. :D And your DH will, too.
“She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you.”
― Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

StarFaerie

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2013, 09:49:10 PM »
I'd want to tell myself. "Hang in there, it gets better. School is a small pond, but once you leave you get to jump in the ocean and there are plenty of others just like you out there."

I was miserable and alone through all 6 years of high school. Always on the periphery, trying to get in. I was a nerd and a geek in an all girls school with no-one else like me. Then I went to university. First day I turned up wearing a Star Trek t-shirt and a necklace made from a medal I had been awarded for science (it was a beautiful design and if you didn't know what it was, you wouldn't realise it wasn't just a gorgeous piece of jewellery). Within minutes a guy had approched me to tell me about his same medal and another 2 came over to chat about Star Trek. I had found my people, and those 3 and many others are still my friends 15 years later and still enjoying our geekiness and nerdiness.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2013, 10:43:31 PM »
My advice (in no particular order):

1) Act relaxed and confident. I know this can be bloody hard, especially if you're feeling the exact opposite. But generally, people are attracted to those who smile and seem sure of themselves.

2) Take an interest in others. I think this IS good advice. But there's an art to it. Don't bombard people with random questions about their lives. Instead, take things slow and try to let conversations develop naturally. Give the other person room to ask questions about you. If they don't, move on (see point 6).

3) There are some activities where it's ok (IMO) to tag along. For example, movies are a good example. But the trick is to ASK whether it's ok if you come along. You shouldn't assume (or demand) that you're invited. And if you ask, and the answer is "no", you have to gracefully accept that.

4) Organise an event yourself. Be pro-active. If there are no takers, then move on (again, see point 6).

5) Don't cling to one person constantly (eg like the girl in the Prom thread).

6) If you're not "clicking" with a group / person, then move on. Recognise that sometimes it's no one's fault, but you just aren't a good match. And remember that some groups are more clique-ish than others. But hanging around a group in the hopes that you'll "wear them down" isn't going to work. In fact, it can be very demoralising. If, after a few months, you haven't made any proper friends within that group (and by "proper friends", I don't just mean people who are nice to you. I mean people who you can email, phone, and hang out with socially), it's time to move on.

An additional piece of advice for a teenager who's finding it hard making friends at school - join an out-of-school activity and expand your horizons.

Amara

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2013, 10:44:57 PM »
My time was so painful--I was one of the two most unpopular girls all throughout those four years--that I have no advice to pass on. The only thing I can say is that it does end even when it feels it never will. It ends when you graduate and you begin to find that so much more exists for you than existed then.

Firecat

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2013, 11:16:10 PM »
The number one thing: It Gets Better. Truly, it does. It feels like forever at the time, and like nothing will ever change. But once you're out of high school, there are so many more options. And in the meantime, being the "outsider" can give you some great opportunities to observe and learn about how the "in crowd" interacts. Which may not seem like much, but can be really useful when dealing with office politics later.

In the meantime, joining an activity or two can really help. For me it was Speech Team and doing backstage stuff for theater. Sometimes it's easier to talk to people one-on-one than to try to join a group - but don't cling to any one person. Instead, like a previous poster said, try saying hi to the person with the locker next to yours. Help that lost-looking new person find their next class. Ask the person carrying that book if it's good (when they're not actually reading it...). And then see how they respond; if they answer and don't continue, that's ok. It's still a couple of minutes of pleasant interaction.

Try to be patient and remember that high school isn't forever. It just feels that way sometimes.

VorFemme

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2013, 11:24:51 PM »
Hum, maybe a two part answer, first it's nice to explain to shy teenager that 'virtual' friendships are still friendships. It's so much easier to find people with the same interests in the internet that being a part of a forum is a great way to socialise and meet new people.
Face-to-face interaction is always nice, but for some people it's not the answer.

Very true. I wish I'd had a few more internet options back in the 1990s. :)  Today ... maybe it would be different. Being a sci-fi-loving, fantasy-reading geek in a small town back then just made me unbearably different.

The one thing I would love to tell then-me: Don't change for anyone. Your real friends will like you the way you are, geeky hobbies and all. :D And your DH will, too.

If you thought being a glasses wearing sci fi reading nerdy geek was bad in the 90s......try 20 years earlier as a girl geek in the70s.....

It took a while.  I'm still not a natural at relating to people...even though I've been doing the Jane Goodall studying the primates thing for decades...

Dad is a "natural" with people.  Mom was not.  Guess which side I took after?
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

nuit93

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2013, 11:26:40 PM »
I was like that too--very few social skills despite coming from a large family.  Plus, I had no idea how to stand up for myself so I made a great target for bullies.

I did volunteer work at the pressure of my mother, however it was at the local library where I was the youngest person there by about a decade.  Not the place to learn how to interact with my peers!  I also was in orchestra through middle and high school (also heavily encouraged by my mother), which didn't lend itself to much social opportunity.

Senior year of high school I decided to try something different and way out of character for me, and signed up for theater (as a semester long credit class).  I loved it so much I decided to try out for the school play and got a small part in that as well!  Definitely a turning point for me, if I could do it over again I would have started long ago. 

bloo

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2013, 11:44:19 PM »
I POD the PP's that mention volunteering and clubs.

Being self-aware is big. Ask yourself - How do I seem to other people?

I had no friends in middle school (6-8th grades). I was very shy and made timid efforts in elementary school. I felt rebuffed at my attempts to make friends and quit trying easily. Looking back - some of it was bullying while some was gentle teasing. So I didn't even try in middle school.

It was hard. I felt depressed fairly often and occasionally angry.

But looking back now there are times I almost wish I could go back to being invisible. One of the things I learned about myself, is that - to myself - I'm a pretty interesting person. I like me. Sure, no one else seemed to but I still did  :). Time by myself became necessary. To decompress and to meditate. I had plenty of time to enjoy reading, playing Barbies (yes I played with them 'til I was 17...I loved styling their hair), decorating and redecorating my room on a dime, teaching myself some rudimentary cooking, taking walks, making mudpies (really), going on bike rides, collecting stickers and whatnot.

I tell my own kids two things when it comes to friends and their own personalities: "It's better to have no friends than bad friends" and "Only the boring are bored".

In high school things changed to the extent that people seemed to want to make friends with me and I wasn't interesting in having more than a few friends. Clingy people were 'out'. I wasn't clingy and can't tolerate people like that. At all. However my need for 'alone time' continued to the extent that I would fib and tell my friends I wasn't allowed to go out but in reality I just needed to be alone. It was easy if I was staying home, harder if I went to the mall to go shopping by myself or to the movies all alone. I hoped I wouldn't get caught. It never bothered me if my friends planned stuff w/each other w/o me. If they were doing something with each other I'd think 'great, maybe I'll go the beach...' Having an afterschool job helped tremendously at learning to interact with people and breaking through my natural shyness.

So advice: Enjoy being by yourself by taking up hobbies, volunteering, a job, etc. Make yourself interesting and other people will be drawn to you. Try to learn and apply social cues. Show personal interest but don't interrogate. It's harder to be alone when you're a true extrovert but even extroverts need to take the time to meditate on things.

LadyL

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2013, 09:27:36 AM »
6) If you're not "clicking" with a group / person, then move on. Recognise that sometimes it's no one's fault, but you just aren't a good match. And remember that some groups are more clique-ish than others. But hanging around a group in the hopes that you'll "wear them down" isn't going to work. In fact, it can be very demoralising. If, after a few months, you haven't made any proper friends within that group (and by "proper friends", I don't just mean people who are nice to you. I mean people who you can email, phone, and hang out with socially), it's time to move on.

THIS.

LordL and his twin brother dealt with being high school outcasts very differently. LordL accepted that the cliquish "cool kids" weren't going to accept him, and found other friends (who he is still friends with to this day). His brother spent all of high school trying to fit in and win the cliques over. He ended up making himself a bigger target for bullying by trying so hard with people who were petty, cruel, and just didn't want to be friends with him.  These days, LordL is outgoing and friendly, and is comfortable with himself. His brother, on the other hand, still holds a lot of bitterness and resentment towards society because of how he was treated in high school. His lingering insecurity leads to bombastic showboating behavior, which turns people off and further isolates him. Given that they are identical twins I think a huge part of why their personalities are so different now is because of their experiences in high school.