I wanted to take a moment to address Beth’s comment/question from last week regarding how to deal with her daughter getting picked on at school (presumably for being a geek). Am I really a geek? Yes, ma’am, I believe I am. How did I deal with that at school?
Well, that’s not a question with a straightforward answer. First of all, getting picked on—and being called a geek, nerd, dork, or many of the other horrific things kids call one another—is part of a larger problem of bullying and social ostracization that runs rampant through schools and beyond. Geeks aren’t the only ones who are picked on by any means. Kids who are “different” in any way tend to suffer, and there is usually not an easy way to deal with the pain caused by anything from a day of not fitting in to being an outcast for years. But that’s not to say that they won’t eventually find a friend or a crowd that gets them. Which is what the growing geek subculture is all about.
Personally, my biggest school social challenges were in seventh and eighth grade at my small and somewhat-rural middle school. I was a good student who tended to be a teacher’s pet, which meant that I unintentionally rubbed a lot of kids the wrong way. Maybe I was precocious and annoying, maybe I had no fashion sense, maybe I was too chubby or clumsy or weird, maybe I tried too hard to fit in, maybe all of the above. Boys rarely talked to me, but I had a decent group of girlfriends in sixth grade—who suddenly started snubbing me in seventh grade for reasons still unknown. It was traumatic, to say the least. And then in eighth grade I developed a strong friendship with a different girl only to have her also suddenly turn on me by the end of the school year and take another of my precious few friends with her.
I don’t remember anyone calling me a geek specifically, but who knows what they whispered about me behind my back before I turned to see disgusted loathing in their eyes. I may not remember the exact words they used, but I remember those looks and how they much they hurt. After all, I didn’t know what I had done to deserve such outward hatred. The worst part about the kids who were truly mean to me was that Read more…