Author Topic: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)  (Read 2688 times)

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Emmy

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #30 on: March 27, 2013, 12:45:26 PM »
I had a few friends and some comfortable acquaintances in high school, but I never really felt like I fit in with a group.  It seems like I clicked with a few individuals, but was still on the outside of the group.  In the years past high school, I realize that I am not a huge 'group' person.  I am naturally quiet and tend not to shine in large groups and realize that is just who I am and am content with that now.  It's just hard when most of school seems to revolve around groups.  My friends tend to be individuals I kept in touch with from various places over the years or small groups, but I still don't feel comfortable with large groups.

I like the advice that 'it does get better'.  Even if it did seem like it would last forever, knowing it would eventually end and there was light at the end of the tunnel was helpful.

There is no 'magic formula' for making friends or fitting in.  Sometimes you just don't click with certain people and that's how it is.  It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you.  However, it is still best to avoid being too clingy and being obsessed with somebody because they are pretty, cool, or popular without having anything in common.  Maybe the person could make an amusing observation to the person next to them that would let the person know they are friendly and open for discussion, but not try to insert themselves in a group without being invited.

I also really like the idea of joining an outside activity, especially if your school is very small.  In a small school where things are 'set', it can be really hard to break out of the status quo and make new friends.  Finding an outside interest would introduce a student to others who share the same interest and allow them a new setting where they can talk to people without having their high school reputation follow them around.  Even if it doesn't help much in school, an outside activity they enjoy is a morale booster. 

Siamesecat, I can relate to your feelings.  One of my biggest fears in school was running into somebody I knew from school, especially somebody in the popular group.  If that happened, I would do the awkward 'look away and pretend I didn't see them' thing and worry they would tell the whole school they saw me and make fun of me.  My dad collected classic cars (and still does) and I remember ducking down in the seat of the car when we would ride around town so nobody would see me.  The worst was when he drove to school and dropped me off and honked the horn before the school doors opened so there was a bunch of students outside.  I realize how silly that all sounds, but if my DD starts to act just as silly when she reaches that age, I'll remember just how hard it was and have some pity on her.


siamesecat2965

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #31 on: March 27, 2013, 01:03:06 PM »
I had a few friends and some comfortable acquaintances in high school, but I never really felt like I fit in with a group.  It seems like I clicked with a few individuals, but was still on the outside of the group.  In the years past high school, I realize that I am not a huge 'group' person.  I am naturally quiet and tend not to shine in large groups and realize that is just who I am and am content with that now.  It's just hard when most of school seems to revolve around groups.  My friends tend to be individuals I kept in touch with from various places over the years or small groups, but I still don't feel comfortable with large groups.

 
Siamesecat, I can relate to your feelings.  One of my biggest fears in school was running into somebody I knew from school, especially somebody in the popular group.  If that happened, I would do the awkward 'look away and pretend I didn't see them' thing and worry they would tell the whole school they saw me and make fun of me.  My dad collected classic cars (and still does) and I remember ducking down in the seat of the car when we would ride around town so nobody would see me.  The worst was when he drove to school and dropped me off and honked the horn before the school doors opened so there was a bunch of students outside.  I realize how silly that all sounds, but if my DD starts to act just as silly when she reaches that age, I'll remember just how hard it was and have some pity on her.

I am the same way. I have friends, but not a huge group like some people do. I struggle with staying in touch too, but am working on that.  And next month am attending my 25th college reunion.

And even after HS and college, when my parents were still living in my hometown and i'd be there, I'd be terrified of seeing someone from HS for fear my old insecurities would come back. I was also terrified of going to my HS reunion a few years back, but forced myself too. I'm so glad I did! No one, aside from a few from the "old" cliques of girls, cared who you were, waht you looked like, and so on. It was soo much fun. And I'm eagerly anticipating my 30th next year!

lilfox

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #32 on: March 27, 2013, 01:45:42 PM »
I read somewhere (in all the bullying articles recently) that one major helpful thing in a kid's life is to have at least one friend, someone you believe looks forward to seeing you as much as you like to see them.

But I think at times, you'll have to be that person for yourself.  And that goes along with the advice to be kind to yourself and to explore your own interests for the sake of developing into a person YOU like.

And I say that as someone over 20 years out of high school who is no longer in real touch with anyone from there, only one person from college, and only a handful since then.  It's still true that when you have no close friends for a time, you can do some introspection on how to be a better friend in the future but you can also try to put aside worrying that you're a loser loner outcast and use the pent-up energy on learning or doing something new.

To offer another Dr Seuss quote: "Alone is something you'll be quite a lot."  Alone can be sad but it can also give you the space to do what you like simply because you like it and that can be a very positive thing.

TurtleDove

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #33 on: March 27, 2013, 02:00:56 PM »
I liked lilfox's post.  I think the best advice is to focus not on whether other people like you but rather YOU like you.  (General you) Be a person you want to spend time with, because you will be spending all of your time with you (and other people, but YOU are the one constant).  I would imagine that depending on what your interests are, if you pursue what really interests YOU as opposed to what you think should interest you, you will find like minded people and viola...friends.

Thipu1

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #34 on: March 27, 2013, 02:03:01 PM »
Wow!  So many wonderful stories have been shared on this thread.  Thank you all.

I think the saddest people I have met were those who say that 'the best years of their lives' were in High school.  On a recent vacation, a table-mate who had to be in his 70s, asked another table-mate of about the same age how many letters he had earned in High school athletics. 

Both men were perfectly in control of their wits but this does strike me as an instance of 'second childhood'. FTR, the other man laughed the question off because, before retirement, he was a genuine  rocket scientist with NASA and sports wasn't his first concern in High school. 

High school was Okay.  I wasn't in with the cool kids but I had a few friends.  We went to see the Beatles at Shea together and also attended a Stones concert right before 'Satisfaction' was released. 
We had a certain cachet of our own and liked being the weird kids.

Sure we would have enjoyed being invited to the cool parties but we weren't.  As my Grandparents would have said, 'In my day you made your own fun'.  We did.
 

scansons

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #35 on: March 27, 2013, 02:03:10 PM »
Looking back at that time for me, here is the advice I would give myself then.

1. Stop looking for deep and abiding friendships.  Those happen naturally, or they don't, and you can't force it.  At the time I desperately wanted a BFF and those just aren't very common.  I think I took a lot of nice people the wrong way because they only wanted a friendship, or an acquaintanceship, and nothing more.  And I probably didn't appreciate what I did have. 

2. Almost nobody is looking at you and laughing.  That is to say.  As long as you don't catch them doing that, they probably aren't.  You are being way harder on yourself than anyone else.  Stop it.
They are all more way interesting to themselves than you are too them.  Just like you are way more interesting to you then they really are to you.

3. Assume nothing when it comes to other people.  Mostly you'll be wrong if you do.

4. Hold on.  It gets better.  Which is to say that I had almost no friends in high school.  But many many friends I've met during college and since.   

(Also, weirdly, many of the people in high school who I though hated me, proved that was not true at all once we were all adults.  There was even one I worked with for four years, and had lunch with almost every day for most of that time.  In high school, I thought she hated every gut I had.  Turned out it wasn't me.  Or it wasn't just me.)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 02:09:52 PM by scansons »

siamesecat2965

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #36 on: March 27, 2013, 02:31:23 PM »
I liked lilfox's post.  I think the best advice is to focus not on whether other people like you but rather YOU like you.  (General you) Be a person you want to spend time with, because you will be spending all of your time with you (and other people, but YOU are the one constant).  I would imagine that depending on what your interests are, if you pursue what really interests YOU as opposed to what you think should interest you, you will find like minded people and viola...friends.

Definitely! I am very solitary, and enjoy it most of the time. My mom, however, still presses me about "being social" but quite honestly, at this point in my life its not so much that I am painfullly shy as I was as a child, but I enjoy my solitude. I really do.

Girlie

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #37 on: March 27, 2013, 04:17:35 PM »
Ooh, boy.... My story is a long one, so I'm not going to tell it. I'll just say that I was a very lonely outcast who would have liked having someone to eat lunch with.

That being said, I did get an awful lot of reading done. :)

My best advice is not to let it get you down. Highschool may seem like forever (and it does seem to drag when you're in it), but it's four years out of your life. Think about that in percentages. If you live to be one hundred, then it's a very tiny portion of your life.

My other piece of advice: unhappy people will do whatever they can to drag you down with them. Bullying is about power and placement. Calling someone ugly, or fat, or making up lies about them is nothing more than a reflection of the bully's character, and it has NOTHING to do with the truth about the victim. Do not be a bully, stand up for others, and stand up for yourself. There is nothing shameful or wrong in not allowing harrassment to continue, because no one deserves to be treated in that way. Hold your head high, and look people in the eyes. Being an "outcast" is not the same thing as being weak.


Emmy

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #38 on: March 27, 2013, 11:21:07 PM »
My other piece of advice: unhappy people will do whatever they can to drag you down with them. Bullying is about power and placement. Calling someone ugly, or fat, or making up lies about them is nothing more than a reflection of the bully's character, and it has NOTHING to do with the truth about the victim. Do not be a bully, stand up for others, and stand up for yourself. There is nothing shameful or wrong in not allowing harrassment to continue, because no one deserves to be treated in that way. Hold your head high, and look people in the eyes. Being an "outcast" is not the same thing as being weak.

I like that.  It is important for people to remember that because bullying victims often feel worthless and that somehow what the bully is saying must be true.  Several years after high school, I was seeing somebody who would insult me verbally.  Whether he was insecure and wanted me to feel bad about myself so I would think I couldn't do better (I did much better btw) or he really felt this way, I wished I realized that he was problem and not me during those weeks I was doubting myself.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #39 on: March 28, 2013, 02:58:39 AM »
I know this wouldn't make a moving feel-good movie, but . . .

there's "being yourself" and there's being yourself.  One involves keeping your own style but generally finding socially acceptable ways to display it; the other is aggressively saying "If you don't like me exactly as I want to be, F you."  The former will (eventually) help you find friends; the latter not so much.  Examine what it is that makes you unpopular and try to make an unbiased judgement about how important that element is to you - is your right to insert broadway show tunes into conversation whenever possible a part of "who you are" you need to cherish, or is it a habit you could tone down if it's keeping you from making friends?

Along the same lines - in high school, your friends define your social standing.  In the rest of the life, they define your quality of life - if you don't have friends you can trust, you won't have an outlet to find a significant other, let off steam, cry on someone's shoulder, etc.  And throughout life but especially in high school, you and your friends are kind of a package deal when it comes to meeting new people.  It is absolutely your choice if you want to be friends with the emo/theater/jock/whatever crowd, but that choice limits the other friends you can make.  Some people seem to naturally be able to straddle the clique divides, but odds are you aren't one of them  :-\  Long story short, if your social group is causing you more stress than enjoyment and you didn't really want to be spending time with them anyway, creating some distance can actually help your social life in the long run.

All that said, it also comes down to luck  :P  I was lucky - the popular girls my year were actually pretty nice, good students, and were in choir with me for years.  I was never super-popular but they accepted me for my singing voice - and my year, being a good student wasn't a bad thing because they were good students too.  (All three of the most popular girls are now elementary school teachers, actually, and I bet they're fantastic at it.)  My sister was a year behind me, and it was a totally different story - the popular girls her year were cheerleaders without a whole lot else going for them, and they had a "mean girls" clique straight out of Hollywood.  My sister's best friend was the biggest social reject in the school, and since my sister refused to sever that friendship, her social life suffered a lot.  I think if she had been in my year it wouldn't have been anywhere near as much of a big deal.

Ceallach

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #40 on: March 28, 2013, 03:13:41 AM »
I would say instead of working to get people to be friends with you, work on being the kind of person you'd like as a friend.

I think my biggest problem as a teenager was really that I was self absorbed and self conscious, it was all about me. It was about desperately trying to fit in and get cool friends.  Once I grew up I started working on being a better, more well rounded individual and suddenly found people liked me. Similarly, I was desperate for a boyfriend in high school, but it was when I had cooled off and stopped pushing it, and in fact had started planning an exciting single future, that I suddenly met my DH (9 years ago now!).  Sometimes we focus so obsessively on what we want that we can't see the wood for the trees.
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magician5

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #41 on: March 28, 2013, 03:33:12 AM »
Let me recommend meetups.com for suggestions on local mutual-interest gatherings, hikes, lectures, etc.
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Cami

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #42 on: March 28, 2013, 08:50:04 AM »
When I was in middle school, I was the outcast, the cling on. It was especially difficult because I was in the same position at home because my parents and my sister formed a tight circle of three and I was the afterthought on all occasions. After a particularly horrendous 7th grade experience, I decided that I couldn't do anything about my home life, but I did have the power to change my school life. I realized that I was well-liked and popular in Girl Scouts, so I had to figure out what was so different about school. I distanced myself from the people with whom I'd been trying to be friends and decided to:

1. Stop worrying about making friends, especially "cool" friends. Just let it happen or not the way I did in Girl Scouts.  Just calm down and stop worrying about it. (In other words, remove that reek of desperation.)
2. Just be friendly with everyone untili such time as they proved themselves unworthy of my regard.
3. Just be myself -- which is what I was in Girl Scouts.
4. Focus on the activities where I was accepted -- in particular, Girl Scouts.

By the time I graduated from high school and my parents insisted upon having a graduation party (I'd refused, because I had visions of my 13th birthday party debacle -- the catalyst for my epiphany), not only did I have a full house, but what strikes me now is that I had people there from EVERY group in school. The jocks, the drama geeks, the math geeks, the people who didn't stand out in any way, etc. Even my mother who never noticed much about my life commented that I seemed to be friends with everyone and a girl standing next to her piped up and said, "That's because Cami is friendly WITH everyone."

I gave that advice to my dd and she found it worked for her as well.


Gyburc

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #43 on: March 28, 2013, 01:23:27 PM »
I was the quintessential high school outcast. I was bullied quite nastily by a few people and largely ignored by most of the others. This was partly because I was one of those annoying students who knew all the answers, partly because I was a late developer and pretty self-conscious as a result.

Probably the biggest thing, though, was that I was interested in things that no-one else was interested in - instead of pop music, I listened to Wagner and Vaughan Williams, instead of going to parties and pubs I went to church and sang in choirs. I didn't watch the TV programmes that everyone else did, I read fantasy books, drew pictures and tried to write stories (very badly). In hindsight, I was a pretentious little twerp.  :)

If I were to give my younger self advice now I would say this: It's absolutely OK for you to be different and to be interested in different things. But don't forget that a lot of your classmates are secretly feeling insecure and uncertain about themselves (just like you are) and are trying to deal with it by fitting in with the crowd. Of course they are going to be wary of someone who makes such a point of being different and 'weird'.

I would say, wait until you are a bit older, and get away from school. You will find that there really are other people out there who are square pegs in round holes, who like 'weird' books and 'weird' music, and who are secure enough in themselves to cope with the idea of someone else being different.

And I'm tremendously grateful that it's less common for people here in the UK to talk about high school being the 'best years of your lives'. Total piffle.  :)
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NyaChan

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Re: Advice for the high school outcast (Spin-off of Prom Cling-On)
« Reply #44 on: March 28, 2013, 01:57:08 PM »
I was very shy and convinced that no one liked me.  I found friends in Chorus and Madrigals as a freshman and was very upset when my parents forced me to quit Madrigals the next year as I thought (rightly I found out) that these friendships would fade away without proximity as so much time was involved in participating.  Then a year of misery afterwards, I found a great group of friends and learned to be more outgoing once I felt comfortable.

The sticker - one of those friends told me our senior year that another girl she knew and I thought was one of the cool kids had mentioned to her that she was surprised at how nice and friendly I was as previously she thought I purposefully kept to myself at school and didn't want to interact with others.  I had no idea at the time that my self defense mechanism, sitting to the side, bringing a book, and reading while everyone else hung out with friends that at the time I didn't have was interpreted that way.  Learned a lesson and made me feel a lot better.