saf1 asks: For three years, I have been going out with a group of friends, and they often make fun of me and say that am ignorant and stupid. This is killing me from inside, and I am starting to think that maybe it is true. What should I do with these friends? Tell them about my problem? Or should I just go with it and believe that I really am stupid?
Hi saf1 –
Oh yucch! This is truly distasteful!
Now I have no idea how little or how much you know. Or how intelligent you are. But I do know enough to say that if the people you go out with all the time are saying that you’re ignorant and stupid, that’s just awful! What it sounds like is that they’ve put you into a “role” in their group, and that role is as the butt of their condescending humor.
If I’m right, the problem with that is that it’s almost impossible to break out of that role, as long as you’re in that group. Some people try to break out of that kind of role by beating some of the members up (which might create some fear in them, which would at least slow down the insults), or to try to be so nice to each of them (giving them candies, etc.) that they’ll all be nicer to you. The problem is, that last one doesn’t work very well, and of course getting into fights will get you into trouble.
My advice is, awful as it sounds, that you need to pull away from these kids for a while. Don’t go out with them next weekend. And instead, spend that time working on something that you care about that’s pretty impressive. Whether that’s going to a gym, doing great work on a school paper, or making a new friend. Whatever it is, let them find someone else to tease for a few nights. And when they ask you what you’ve been up to, feel free to be a little mysterious. “Oh I just had more interesting stuff to do,” or “I was too busy,” or even, “Hey, I can’t spend all my free time just hanging out with you guys.”
Now I could be wrong, but my guess is that if you do that a few times, they’re going to want you back, bigtime (Especially whoever’s been the new butt of their jokes!). And if that happens, the next time you go out with them, be ready. And whenever the first one of them comes out with an “ignorant and stupid” comment about you, have something in mind to point out how they were ignorant and stupid about something. “Hey it wasn’t me who yelled out the wrong answer in math class last week!” Now that friend might still insult you, but if you’re ready with those comments for each of them, suddenly they’re going to find it costs them something to insult you. You’re ready with a retort! And also, each of them knows that the group as a whole wants to have you around. So they’re going to be feeling a bit less secure about going after you.
Now again, saf1, I can’t guarantee that this will work. But it’s one way that could achieve making the group a better place for you. And if it doesn’t work, and these folks keep insisting on treating you badly… it might be time to look at leaving them behind and finding some other friends.
You’ve already done a good job of that – my pack is as great a bunch of friends as I’ve ever known! But you’ll want to have some in your face-to-face life as well.
And once you’ve managed to improve your circle of friends (whether it’s this same bunch or different people), my great wish is that you never allow yourself to be treated as “the runt of the litter” ever again!