Tag Archives: insecurity

Are You Gay?

Around 1:15 PM, I trudge from AP Biology to AP Calculus. Three AP classes down, one more to go, I think.

“Thomas!”

I hear someone call my name and turn. It’s a junior, a friend of mine who I had a class with two years ago but had not spoken to for quite some time. I wait for her to catch up, and when she does, we continue walking to our classes together.

“What do you think of AP Bio?” she asked.

“It’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” I reply, “everyone is so quiet though, and there are a lot of juniors. What do you think of the class?”

She repositions her dark brown hair with her hand, and says, “It’s alright. Do you mind if I ask you a question though? Like, I don’t mean it in an offensive way, but…”

As she leaves her sentence halfway done and hanging in the air, I already know what she’s going to ask. Continue reading

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The Right to Judge

I am a high school student. It’s not exactly something I’m proud of. Contemporary culture stereotypes high school students as inexperienced, indecent, and overall unintelligent human beings. Adolescence is the awkward middle ground between innocent childhood and mature adulthood, the experience that many look forward to but most would like to forget. It’s not surprising, considering the quantity of kids who are bullied and broken apart by their peers’ cruel and cutting comments – in fact, the one facet about typical teenagers I find underplayed is just how judgmental we are.

After googling "the right to judge", I realized research on the topic would be difficult as most people think of judgement in a religious or political sense. Not my intent right now.

I must admit something now. I judged someone today. I called this person a mean name, and talked about him to a close friend of mine. But the truly terrible thing is that I felt justified in doing it – this person cheated on a quiz, and my teachers had found out about him – so I assumed that I had the right to castigate him for his actions. Did I really, though? Did two wrongs – his cheating, and my gossiping – make a right?

There’s a reason high school students are so critical. Society forces us to conform to the standards of celebrities, to the untouchable yet so dearly-beloved stars in media. However, no one is able to reach these fabricated realities of perfection, so naturally, we become insecure and target those that are just a little below us on the chain of social standing. Or we just pick on the people that are, you know, different, because who gave them the right to live their lives freely? Who told them that they could not care about what others think about them?

Remember that post about why high school relationships fail I wrote last year? I was writing a shorter version of my argument in a post online for an English class I’m currently taking. One of my friends noticed and proceeded to give me her opinion.

“I totally agree with you,” she said,” but others will think you’re like, totally against relationships because you’ve never been in one and you’re just jealous.”

“I have been in a relationship, though,” I said.

“I know that,” she replied,” but others don’t.”

“I don’t care what other people think of me,” I said, cutting off the conversation in order to finish the assignment on time, and possibly because the situation was making me more uncomfortable than I should have been.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers is one of the best books I've read that deals with gossipping, rumor-spreading, and essentially, high school drama.

I’m sure my friend had good intentions for informing me of this, yet I was honestly hurt by her comment. Not by my friend, but by the truth that she revealed – that my peers, the people I spend seven hours every day with, would judge me for something as small as one of my beliefs without the whole context of who I really am. I’ve been on the receiving end of some nasty rumors before, but this made me realize how wrong it is to judge someone at all.

You may accuse me of being too sensitive, and yes, I am a very sensitive guy. But gossiping and bullying is an issue beyond me and my high school; it is a problem that plagues teenagers all over the country. Search “bullying suicides” on Google and you will receive more than one million hits. I can supply links to such upsetting stories that it depresses me how horribly common bullying is, how awfully unsurprising suicides like this one and this one and this one are.

Going back to the conversation I had with my friend today, I admit to lying a little bit. Frankly, there are peoples’ opinions that I couldn’t care less about, yet it’s hurtful to hear someone say something bad about me when I always try my hardest to be a kind and compassionate person. I have it easy though – can you imagine how it would feel to suffer from taunting and teasing every day over something insignificant like your sexuality or your religion? Something that doesn’t even affect other people, like your weight or how you look?

Judging and bullying go hand in hand. When one feels insecure they often resort to picking out and pointing out the flaws of other people. Sometimes these things aren’t even flaws, but are surface level qualities like how we look or what we wear. It only takes one insult to instill a sense of inferiority in someone, and only a couple more before they begin to wonder if who they are is even good enough anymore.

So please, please, please think before you pass judgement on someone. Think about how you would feel if someone were to say something like that about you, or how hurtful it would be if what you were saying would spread. Of course criminals deserve to be judged, but they also deserve to be punished. These days, too many innocent teens are condemned to punishments that they simply don’t deserve.

"Easy A" was a great movie about how rumors can damage one's reputation. I especially recommend it if you enjoyed The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

I apologize for the gargantuan post everyone! I honestly didn’t plan this, though the idea had been formulating in my head after that conversation I had with my friend today. It’s also anti-bullying week at my school, what a coincidence. I just noticed that you usually don’t see adults committing suicide because of bullying, probably because they’ve matured to the point of being beyond immature tactics such as taunting and teasing.

Who do you think has the right to judge others? Do you? What’s your stance on bullying and the effect of society on today’s teens? This issue has a huge place in my heart, so I’m really curious for my readers’ opinions.

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A Fear of Inadequacy

The sticky note of inadequacy.

I don’t claim to be a perfectionist. I’m just afraid of being inadequate.

Conversation 1:

(in the car)

“Mom: I saw John* at the track the other day.

Me: …

Mom: He was running with the cross country team. That boy works so hard. Remember at the awards ceremony? He got awards in science and math. You didn’t get any awards in science or math. He gets straight A’s too, and he works so hard outside of school. You just sit around all day. Why don’t you do anything?

Me: …

Mom: Remember Amy*, my friend’s daughter? She got accepted to a prestigious private college. She didn’t even go to high school. Why can’t you be more like her? Why can’t you…”

You know that saying that there’s always someone better than you? Ever since Kindergarten I’ve had that saying drilled into my head. Whether it be my brother, my best friend, or my neighbor’s kid, my mom has always negatively compared me to others. She’s done it so many times not only am I afraid of what she’ll do when I fall short, but I punish myself as well.

Conversation 2:

(at lunch)

“Me: Oh my gosh, I got a B+ on the Chemistry test, what am I going to do?

Friend: I got a B on that test. Don’t worry about it, you’ll pull it up like always… wait, why aren’t you eating?

Me: I can’t eat, I have to study. My mom will kill me once she gets the grade report. I have to do better next time. I have to work harder. I have to…”

Last year I received a C on a geometry test. It was the first C I had ever gotten during my high school career. When my teacher handed me the paper, I literally felt like my life was caving in. I know it sounds melodramatic now, but at the time I couldn’t even think about anything other than how angry my mom would be. I immediately asked my teacher to go to the restroom, where I proceeded to lock myself in a stall and cry for fifteen minutes.

Remember this? Hopefully Precalc with Trig Honors won't be too bad this year... (image via benjaminhurt.com)

If you think I’m a crybaby because of that incident, I don’t blame you. After much stress I ended up with an A for the quarter and an A for the course. Looking back on that over-dramatic, teenage-hormone induced moment when I imagined my life was ruined forever, there is one piece of advice I would give myself.

There is always going to be someone better than you, but there’s always someone out there who’s worse than you or worse off than you are. I run the risk of sounding like a snob, but it’s true. After all those years of self-deprecating and living in constant fear of not being the best, I’ve realized that I should be thankful for any and all the opportunities life has given me. I’ve been so self-absorbed in my own insignificant problems that I failed to see just how lucky I am.

My Prince O3 Speedport Black racquet. Oh baby.

Who cares if my mom complains I’m not #1 on the tennis team? At least I made it. So what if she yells at me for not having the highest grade in AP US History? At least I have access to a quality education, unlike a myriad of unfortunate souls elsewhere.

So, from now on, I’m going to try my best to accept my shortcomings and strive to improve them without being too hard on myself. It’s the effort that counts, right?

What do you think of perfectionism? Do you have a fear of failure or know someone that does?

*names changed for the sake of anonymity.

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Three Deadly Words: I’m So Fat

You’re remembered by the things you do, the things you say, and the things you believe in. Here’s what I mean:

Friend of mine #1: Did you hear what happened to Thomas?

Friend of mine #2: Thomas? You mean the one who reads 24/7, supports gay rights, plays tennis, blogs, and calls himself fat all the time?

Hold up. I know what you’re thinking. Thomas doesn’t have friends in real life. Why would Thomas’s friends say that he calls himself fat?

Maybe because he eats one of these every day... just kidding!

I have a problem. I self-deprecate. A lot.

I’m not saying that self-deprecation is a bad thing – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. In his book Thank You For Arguing, Jay Heinrichs states that self-deprecating is a good way to indirectly compliment yourself. By downplaying yourself to others, you can brag that you only have 25,000 subscribers and that you only make $200,000 a year. It’s like a socially acceptable form of arrogance.

That’s not the type of self-deprecation I’m against. Well, it is, sort of. But the form of self-deprecation I’m referring to is much worse. It’s when you actually believe the bad things you’re saying about yourself are true, even when they’re not. It’s poisonous, a mental parasite that takes over your mind and kills your self-confidence.

I own three scales. It's a long story.

According to this BMI calculator, I’m not overweight or obese. My weight is normal. So why do I keep calling myself fat? Why do I think that that’s true when it’s not? To those of you who are like me: please stop. You’re not stupid, ugly, useless, or fat. It’s not appropriate to deride others, and it’s definitely not acceptable to ridicule yourself.

I’m stopping now. I’m listening to all of my friends and family that insist on arguing with me every time I insult myself, even though if I were them I would’ve given up a long time ago.

Small steps. Like a recovering smoker, I won’t go cold turkey; I’ll allow myself one self-deprecating comment per day until I stop completely. My goal will be to be rid of this curse by September 6, 2011 – the first day of my junior year. And to all of you who are trapped by your own insecurity, your own hurtful criticisms: you are not alone.

What do you think of self-deprecation? Is it beneficial or damaging? Do you self-deprecate?

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