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How can I stand up for myself?

When people call me names or take my stuff, I don’t have the courage to say anything.

You are stronger than you think, says our elder. It’s brave of you not to rise to provocation.

Dear EWC

Hi, so I’m writing this to get some advice about how to stand up for myself. Recently this idiot guy in my science class is always coming to my table because his other friend sits at my table. He was making this really racist comment about Asians (which I am kinda) and my back was turned to him and I was typing something on my computer next to my friend and pretended not to hear him also say, “She can’t even hear me”. I think he was talking about me. Honestly, I really wanted to say something like “That’s so racist,” or something but I never had the courage to do it and this happens all the time. Like if I ever try to stand up for myself to certain people, I feel in a position where like my face gets warm and I like to feel like I’m going to cry for some reason. I don’t want people to do more of these things to me because they know I won’t be able to stand up for myself. Also another time this girl stole my mechanical pencil and tried to hide it from me. I didn’t even have the courage to ask for it back even though I so desperately wanted it back even though it was just a pencil. It ended up that my friend got it back for me. This is so annoying because I think I only feel this way towards popular people I know can talk about me and say bad things about me. I literally want to slap their faces but if I can’t even stand up for myself, of course, I wouldn’t be able to do that. I need help. I’m in middle school in 7th grade and I don’t get bullied or anything. A few stupid rude comments every now and then but its not constant.

Good-Listener replies

You raise a very interesting question. I’ve been, and certainly was in that situation, constantly when I was a kid. The big thing you said is that you are not being bullied. If that were the case, then it goes into a different arena where often a teacher or the administration has to get involved. You are much stronger than you think often by letting it go. These jerks are trying to get a rise out of you and you aren’t letting them. Believe it or not, it takes courage. And, by the way, bad-mouthing doesn’t just happen in middle school. I had a situation of my own come up this year and I’m almost 70! True, the person doing the talking is mentally ill… but my best defense was nothing. The point is this. No one likes anyone to bad mouth or insults them, but often ignoring their insults (if you can) says that you don’t care and that they are not worth the effort. Often they stop or find someone else to attempt to torment, because what is the fun in someone who doesn’t care? The hard part is getting you to not feel so bad. That can be hard, trust me. But it’s called trying to detach from them — realizing they are idiots and, likely will take that cowardice into their older years when they may truly have consequences.

As far as the pencil is concerned — or if it ever happens again — ask for it once, and if the miscreant laughs or gives you a hard time, then let it go, unless it’s a very valuable item. It is stealing, so keep a note of what she did and when. If someone you know takes something valuable, then you can report it.

I’m not saying to lie down and be passive, but it’s called “picking your battles”. I’ve often been the strongest when I ignored the perpetrator and not only did it allow me to move on — it let that person know I didn’t care and they were not so important as to hurt me. Please try to see that you have inner strength, and while this kind of behavior is maddening, it’s often best left to the fools to wallow in stupidity. You’ll be OK — and chances are you’ll do a lot better in life than most of them. Good luck.

Letter #: 449715
Category: School

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