Geeky Teens: It Gets Better

Are you bullied in high school because you're a geek? Don't worry, it gets better.

Many popular students approach graduation day with bittersweet nostalgia: excitement for the future is tempered by fear of lost status. But as cap-and-gown season nears, let's also stop to consider the outcasts, students for whom finishing high school feels like liberation from a state-imposed sentence.

In seven years of reporting from American middle and high schools, I've seen repeatedly that the differences that cause a student to be excluded in high school are often the same traits or skills that will serve him or her well after graduation.

Examples abound: Taylor Swift's classmates left the lunch table as soon as she sat down because they disdained her taste for country music. Last year, the Grammy winner was the nation's top-selling recording artist.

Students mocked Tim Gunn's love of making things; now he is a fashion icon with the recognizable catchphrase "Make it work."

J.K. Rowling, author of the bestselling "Harry Potter" series, has described herself as a bullied child "who lived mostly in books and daydreams." It's no wonder she went on to write books populated with kids she describes as "outcasts and comfortable with being so."

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(Yes, the title is inspired from the It Gets Better Project, which lets LGBT kids and teens know that things will get better ... if they can just get through their teen years. Here's a fascinating story about the project over at NPR)


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Since Elton John's character in song is apparently fictional I'll give one example of an outcast who hooked up with an abused teen girl and the two of them became one of the most notorious spree-killing couples in American history. The boy was Charles Starkweather and the girl was Caril-Ann Fugate.

Starkweather suffered from myopia and bow legs and was perpetually ridiculed at high-school. Caril-Ann was abused by her father, sexually and otherwise physically. The first two victims of their spree were her parents.
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A part of me thinks the only thing that gets better is the individuals approximation of the reality of the situation. I'm 30 years old on friday and I still get the same criticisms I got when I was a teenager, except both me and my detractors are adults now. The primary difference is that I stopped valuating myself according to the standards of others, be they originally from tradition or mere egotistical whimsy. In Transformations of Consciousness: The Metaphysics and Epistemology by Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Wolff describes a transormed consciousness arrived at through the exercise of a mental faculty he calls 'introception' as distinct from the prevailing forms of cognition; perception and conception. When an individual's introceptive awarenss is awakened and noetic Realization is attained, the standard material based value system is flipped on its head. What is value is no longer how much one can acquire, but how little one can manage with. The desire to accumulate is not special and by no means difficult to abide in. The contrary is truth, to liberate onself from the desire is difficulty. People who accumulate masses of wealth are no more than self-driven demonoids. It's as if they are sucking up the life from the universe around them. Like a black hole. Yet, they will value it higher than any wisdom. Suffering may lead to an awakening of the introceptive cognition, or it may simply cause one to strive harder to gain material wealth and status and thus consume all that much more of the universe. In short, they may very well become what they hated.

It is a sad fact that to be successful you need a lack of success. If everyone were successful there would be no meaning to the term. The desire therefor to be successful is complementary to the desire to be successful over and above other people. Which amounts to little more than the luciferean ego, whereby the Morning Star attempted to out-shine it's brethren, but it's pride transformed into shame. Like an enantiodromia, human pride wherever it rears its ugliness is chased by a shadow called shame. Hence, Elton John's ashamed little play-actor grew up to be a proud and arrogant prick. Who's later years will undoubtedly be full of shame again.
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Yea, but have you ever heard Elton John's song Ego? Elton John is somewhat of a societal outcast himself. Now the song goes:

Do you remember acting out your youth
A Romeo resplendent on an orange case
Do you remember how I would recite
And how I'd blow my lines and hide my face
Well maybe it was childish, foolish, before schoolish
Immaturish, lose your coolish
But I had to grow and prove my ego

Take a look at me now and take a taste of the money
I'm not in it for the bread I'm in it for the gravy, honey
Inflate my ego gently, tell them heaven sent me
Oh 'cause I'm so expressive and I'm so obsessed with my ego
My ego and it's message
Oh inform the press, invite the guests
I need the press tonight

Whose to say that the pursuit of success in other areas of life isn't just a means of proving ones ego against the backdrop of a failed high-school experience? I was severely outcast and by all material measure I'm still an unsuccessful nobody. Now, in some circles it is believed that suffering is a teacher guiding us toward enlightenment. But the relationship is not a guarantee, people can suffer just enough to make them shoot-up their classmates. There is no linear causal equation that goes "Get Bullied = Be Successful". And that is even assuming you measure "success" by material wealth. I'm perfectly fine with not being Taylor Swift or some other ubercelebrity. I'm okay with being me, and that, to my mind, is the greatest kind of success. I don't have to impress, improve, show my stuff or wait for recognition.
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Check out Twaggies' very funny clip:

Give a Man a Fish - Twaggies by Twaggies
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