Kara - NOT a Wallflower!
When Kara was 15, she decided that she would no longer be the wall flower she had always been. She knew that the only way to get friends was to step out of her comfort zone and start talking to people. As scary as it was, Kara started to jump into conversations with other groups of students and state her opinion whenever she could. Unfortunately, Kara's behavior did not have the effect she had hoped. Instead, people started to think of her as annoying and pushy. Once a quiet, soft spoken girl who nobody paid attention to, Kara now found herself the center of unwanted attention.
Suddenly the students were making it very clear that she was not one of them. Her nickname had become “Crazy Kat” and “Miss Bossy.” All of the effort Kara had put in to trying to fit in had ultimately backfired and left her even more isolated than before. Nobody wanted to talk to her and every time she walked into a classroom, she’d hear hurtful comments from her classmates. The bullying got worse. One girl asked her if she had ever thought of herself as annoying when they were standing in line in the cafeteria. Kara’s response was quiet. “I don’t mean to be,” she said. The girl responded loudly, “I’m needy?!?” and started laughing. “Kara just admitted to me that she’s needy” she stated loudly. The entire line started laughing out loud. Kara was humiliated. She left the cafeteria and sat in the girl’s locker room for the rest of the lunch period.
Kara went home that day and cried to her mom. She didn’t understand why things had gotten worse. Her mom had actually been the one who told to be more outgoing and it had completely backfired. She wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. Kara’s mom listened to her daughter and sat patiently as she explained the situation. After a few deep breaths, Kara’s mom said, “It looks like you have two choices.” “What do you mean? I don’t have any choice!” Kara said. “No, you do. You always have a choice,” her mom said.
The first choice that Kara has would be to speak with a teacher or counselor at the school and explain the situation. While it may see as though Kara is “telling on” her classmates, it is extremely important that the adults at the school are aware of what is going on and the impact it is having on Kara.
The second choice that Kara has would be to ignore the cruel remarks and focus on her school work. This is, of course, extremely challenging when you feel as though your classmates have turned against you. There may, however, be an activity or club that Kara has not joined before. By participating in an activity or club that she is interested in, she will likely meet other students similar to her who she can relate to.
The third choice that Kara has will take some concentration. Each time that a student says something hurtful, she can visualize the words being tossed aside. The point here is that the words don’t stick on her. She can then change the words in her head into something positive. For example, if someone says “You’re so annoying. Nobody likes you,” Kara can throw those words into an imaginary trash can and change them to suit reality. “I am a friendly person and the people who like me are worth my time and energy.”
The fourth choice that Kara has is to make sure she walks away from a bullying situation in a positive and confident way. If, for example, Kara is in the school cafeteria again and someone says something like the girl did in the story, she can smile and respond, “That’s not what I said. I said that I don’t mean to be. But have a nice day!”
Situations like Kara’s are all too common. If you or someone you know is being bullied, it is important that you talk to a trusted adult. Together, you can come up with a strategy to stop the bullying and protect yourself or your classmate.
If you have any questions, send them to Maggie@TheLifeCoachForTeens.com. I’m happy to answer your questions and discuss potential options if you or someone you know is experiencing a situation like Kara’s.