By David Joel Miller.
Ever wonder why they pick on you?
People who get picked on start to think there is something wrong with them. They write in to my blog and others, asking what is wrong with them. They ask why do people not like them and criticize them. The details are often different but I see a constant theme in these comments and questions. The person who is being picked on starts thinking this has something to do with them.
Humans, and animals too like the familiar. They feel more comfortable when everyone is exactly the same. Anything outside the norm gets noticed and frequently that notice is disapproval. The human version of beauty is largely one of extreme average. Any deviation from the norm is downgraded.
People who look differently that others get attacked. So do those who act or talk differently. You can be totally average in all respects but one, that one aspect where you have diverged will be the one that gets noticed. This preference for the average, this teasing of those who are different includes physical, mental, emotional and behavioral characteristics.
There are a few times when fashion dictates that you look “different” but mostly we all want to look different in the same way all our contemporaries do. Tye dye or Goth we all look different in a very average way.
There are a few times when we make exceptions for people who are far enough away from the mean. Really tall men are OK if they play basketball. Very tall women are accepted if they are models. Most of the time though, if you are a few inches taller or a few I.Q. points above average, you will get flack until you find your niche in life. If you can figure out a way to make money off your difference you may get a pass on the teasing. But until you make that money expect the criticism to rain down on you. Even then, just because you become President or Pope, you are not exempt from the attacks on your uniqueness.
Let’s look at some examples things that will get you teased and then some possible solutions to this teasing. There are solutions that work and ones that do not. The ones most people try are the ones that are unlikely to work.
The Physical, Nose, Ears, Eyes and Face
No one gets teased because they have an average nose. Let your nose be too long or too short, too flat or too protruding, that unique nose will get criticized. The nose is an easy target for attack. It stands out from the face and is visible.
Ears are easy targets. They stick out also. Big ears or small ones makes no matter. Girls, who get their ears pierced or don’t get them pierced get teased. So do boys.
Are your eyes the wrong color? Which color is in and which is out? Is your hair right or wrong? What is the “in” thing this year? Facial hair goes in and out. You need the same style and length as everyone else if you want to fit in.
Besides the face, people get teased for their weight. Too skinny or too fat. You need to be very close to average if you want to be acceptable. Busts and butts all seem to get graded. Too big, too small, not many just right.
Mental, Emotional and Behavioral differences get you teased.
The kids who need extra help and struggle, whether it is because of a learning disability or just a different learning style, you will get teased. Can’t hear or see, need glasses? You will get the shunning treatment and maybe even get to ride the short bus. That difference will get you teased also.
Say you are really smart, does that get you out of the teasing queue? Not a chance. If you are smart you get teased because you are not athletic. You athletes do not get off either. Remember all the sayings about dumb jocks?
Whether you are very emotional or not emotional at all you will fall outside the norm and being different in any way results in you standing out. Those who stand out get teased.
The solutions that do not work.
Getting surgically altered.
Plastic surgeons can do wonders these days. If you were born with a birth defect or were injured, plastic surgery may be just the thing for you. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to go under the knife for the wrong reasons. Having surgery will not make them stop teasing you or make more people like you. You may look different but you are still you and they will find something else to tease you about.
Notice how many people have multiple surgeries. They expected to be beautiful and loved. When the surgery did not produce the miracle they hoped for they blame the doctor or get another surgery.
Perfection is an illusion. The more you pursue it the further away it will move. Trying to be perfect and satisfy everyone will please no one. Do not cheat yourself out of a life by trying to please others.
Being really good at something.
No matter how many championships you win or how many degrees you have there is always “what you have done lately.” Billionaires still get teased or criticized for their looks or their family.
Starving or binging and purging will not get you the positive things you hoped for. A healthy lifestyle is good. Losing some weight may be just what you need to do. But do not think that there is any weight that will get you off the teasing hook. You will just get teased for your diet or exercise plan.
What does work?
Accept yourself as you are. Know that you will get teased and criticized in life. The only people who escape this teasing thing, or maybe they just get less of it than others, are the ones who are totally bland and never stand out in any way. The best way to become a better person is to accept yourself the way you are and then go about become the best you possible.
Successes are the best revenge.
Kids who were teased in elementary school sometimes grow up to be actors, successful businessmen or brilliant scholars. Success is not all about money or power it is also about creating a life full of purpose and happiness. Stop caring about all those comments about you and go out and live the best life possible.
Thanks to the reader who asked why people teased him and how despite surgeries the teasing did not end. I hope that reader and others will find something useful in this post.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books