Pippi Long Stocking did it:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

I am a seventeen year old girl and I have a problem. I am being bullied at school because the other kids think I am stuck up. It’s not as if I am being threatened with violence, but I am being shunned and excluded from any group or social activity in a hurtful way. I will see a group of girls talking and laughing together but when I walk up, they stop and walk away, rolling their eyes. I have been given a nickname: Her Highness. and sometimes they shout it in a very nasty way.
I admit that when I first came to the school, it may have seemed as if I was bragging. We were talking about what we did for the summer. I had traveled to the Red Sea and London and had ridden a camel in Cairo at the pyramids. Everyone else visited relatives in the country or stayed home and went to the beach a few times. When it came my turn to speak, they looked at me as if I were a bug and then walked away. I heard one of them say “who does she think she is, the queen?”

I didn’t make anything up and all I did was be honest, but now I am being treated as an outsider. I’m afraid that I will never make friends. I don’t know where to go from here. Help!

Prissy Missy

Dear Missy,

Be proud of your experiences, differences, and who you are. Travel is an awesome potentially life changing experience. Don’t let anyone take the positive impact of that away from you.

Humans are social but also territorial animals. Anything new can seem like a threat to the established pecking order so people tend to piss on it in order to claim it as their own and find a place for it in the pecking order.

For now you are being psychologically peed on, but if you stay steady and true to yourself, things will work out in the end. Remain happy despite the social pressure to submit.
You will gain status, friends and positively influence the current established norms. You will expand their horizons. This takes time but always ask yourself what kind of person do you want to be? That’s all that really matters. The classic book “Pollyanna” by Eleanor H. Porter is about this and a more recent book “The Wish” by Gail Carson Levine.

Be yourself and the friends you earn will be ones worth having.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny begs to differ. The kind of person you want to be is NOT all that matters. Your sensitivity to those around you, and the attitude with which you approach them, will always make the difference between success and failure because we do not live in bubbles of our own accomplishments. We live in a world filled with other people who matter too.

Granny is not telling you to a disguise your experiences so that you don’t rock the boat or challenge the pecking order. What she is saying is that if you announce your own elaborate and financially exorbitant travel experiences in a self-satisfied tone of voice after everyone else has made it known they had the budget version for their own experience, you DO in fact come off as a smug little princess, and I might be tempted to walk away from you too.

Others will be more interested in what you have to say if you show sensitivity when you Speak. Diplomacy is not a liability. Others will be more likely to value what you have to offer them if you also show appreciation for what they themselves have to offer. I heard nothing of appreciation towards others, or interest in their experience, in the description offered in your letter. It was pretty much all about you. You may do well to keep this in mind in the future.

Be humble when speaking and you seem enlightened. Too much pride in yourself can just get you peed on.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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3 Responses to Pippi Long Stocking did it:

    – Dr. B.C.
    Someone new to a school is usually treated shitty. Becoming invisible to fit in isn’t a good tactic.

    – Granny Dr.

    I didn’t suggest that she become invisible, or that she maintain humbleness as a permanent countenance. I simply said that one seems more enlightened if one speaks with humbleness rather than superiority. And it goes a lot further towards making friends.

    I know what you mean about expected niceness. I was very outspoken and brash when I was younger, and it really bothered a lot of guys and also women who had been raised to be humble with men. But I also realized after I matured that being outspoken without being aware of who you were speaking to, or where they were coming from, was not a smart way to go. A quieter, firmer and more serene demeanor gets much better results.

    I think because of your experience, you view all niceness as toxic. Fake niceness is. But the point that I was trying to make was that if you want to make friends, it helps to show your appreciation for them as we’ll as hoping they will appreciate you.
    It’s a matter of perspective. You are coming from the angle of “don’t let anyone bully you out of your sense of self-esteem” and I am coming from the angle of “Me, wonderful me is great when you are setting your own goals and thinking of your own future… But if you want to make friends, you need to think about their feelings as well as your own.”

    It’s not cultural, it’s simple human relations. If you have rich parents who can afford to take you all over the world, it may behoove you to understand that maybe other people don’t have such privileges and displaying your riches before them in an arrogant way is not in such good taste.

    – Dr. B.C.
    The humbleness of submission starts young and continues throughout adult hood and is played out in relationships. The book ‘Raising Ophelia’ is about this.
    Girls once they enter puberty are expected to submit to cultural norms/stereotypes; humble, nice, be quite, have no opinions and back seat drive only.

    You are not wrong about politics and knowing your audience but it is an enlightened fine line and I am not sure kids, teens are capable of pulling it off. Most tend to generalize rules.

  2. Ken Bryant says:

    Hi Missy,
    Those around you could not relate to your experiences because at your (and their) tender age, you view materialism as the “measuring stick” for the value of an experience. Take out the difference of what it costs to go to the beach compared to what it costs to travel around the world, and either experience can be equally worthwhile. There is a place for everyone to grow; the bully to stop, the bystanders to get involved and the victim to re-interpret his/her response to the problem. Hunger for power is a nasty little beast that gets to all of us at times. Recognizing this as a universal problem helps all of us become more tolerant when this happens. I like the “three ways of communicating” idea, don’t be aggressive unless you’ve got a very good reason, don’t be non-assertive period, but honestly and fairly say what you think and you will be respected.

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