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!
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.