“...so don’t rely
on people you meet,
cos no one is
Turns out, school can be a pretty dangerous place. Terrifying, in fact. Over the past few days I’ve been surveying my friends and anyone who doesn’t run away from me, and there were a few things that really stood out. It turns out, at least from my limited and highly questionable research, that we teenagers don’t really mind the learning. We’re all for learning. When people talk about being unhappy at school, it doesn’t tend to be the schoolwork or difficult subjects. These are concerns, yes, but they can be borne and dealt with. Perhaps I’ll touch on them in the future. The problems which came up most when I asked people were the social aspects—how school can make them feel. Here’s my attempt at help.
I Hate School Because...
· I always feel self-conscious. We do spend a lot of our school days comparing ourselves to others, don’t we? Are we pretty enough, slim enough, clever enough, sporty enough, artistic enough...? I know I’ve wondered all of these things. We feel intimidated or sometimes jealous of our classmates because they’ve got it all figured out and are simply better than us. What if I told you every single person has felt this way at one time or another? That girl who always looks perfect? She wishes she was as clever as you. That boy who’s amazing at art? He wishes he could play football as well as you can. Bear in mind that for everything you envy, there will always be something you have that others don’t. You have a very unique set of skills. Why would you want to be like other people? I think once we stop comparing ourselves to others and concentrate on being the best we can be, things will get easier. Accept that school is where people see you at your best... and your worst. This goes for everyone. But in a month’s time, nobody will remember your bad hair day. What they will remember is the way you smiled at them or shone at that test. It seems to me everyone is simultaneously feeling that they’re not as good as the next person. By my calculations, that makes us all equally brilliant. Right?
· The teachers are mean. It’s supposed to be one of the golden rules of teaching that you don’t let your mood affect your work. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case with many people. I’m a stickler for good manners and have been brought up to believe mutual respect is the way forward. Yet still we see teachers rolling their eyes and giving attitude, taking their bad mood out on their least favourite pupil... I've even seen teachers make weaker pupils feel worse by mocking them. Many teachers seem to feel the only way to show their superiority is to pick on people. This is really the problem of the teacher, but if you’re a pupil and you feel you’re being given a rough time, it’s important to remain calm and respectful. Let the teacher know you feel like you’re being picked on, without being rude. Instead of saying “I didn’t do anything!” calmly tell them “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do anything wrong.” Hopefully, this should work. If they continue to pick you, try to rise above it. I know it’s not ideal, but hopefully if you stay quiet they’ll leave you alone. You can always talk to another adult if things are getting out of hand. Remember you shouldn’t be scared.
· I am bullied. This is a huge problem for some people. Bullying is an issue much too diverse, serious and sensitive to be spoken about here, but it’s probably going to be my next theme, so please do come back if you need help.
· I can’t be independent. It’s so confusing, isn’t it? At school, we are told to take responsibility for our work, but at the same time teachers seem to be constantly looking over our shoulder and determined to keep us within the lines. It’s a necessary balance, of course, but many teens feel that their school misses the mark slightly on this one. I know it’s hard to feel stuck in between childhood and adulthood, with so many different things expected from you, but I think the mature approach is the best one. That way, if you feel as though you’re being treated like a kid, you can inform people in a polite, respectful manner about the way you feel.
· Of PE. There have been lots of surveys asking adults what they recall about school, and many people who had a hard time at school remember PE class as agony. I suppose it adds up: people who are interested in and excel at sports tend to have experience with being on a team, making new friends and socially interacting. Some of us... don’t. I’m someone who suffers in PE, as it seems my hand-eye co-ordination is and always will be terrible. I’m OK with that, even if my PE teacher isn't. Do try to get involved when you can, but if you’re like me and your class has learned to steer well clear, don’t fret. It’s only a couple of hours a week, maybe less. Perhaps you’ll find a sport you love, or you might just have fun cheering people on. As sports teams don’t suit me, I’ve joined a drama group instead. All the benefits with none of the humiliation. Remember that PE is something many of us un-coordinated souls have had to endure, and although it may feel as though you’re the only one who trips or drops the ball... trust me, you’re not.
So I guess the most important thing to take from this is to remain calm. Realise, as I mentioned here, that nothing is the end of the world. You’re not going to be in school forever. But it is quite a chunk of time to be miserable... so change what you can and accept what you can’t, and if there is a problem, try to treat it in the most reasonable, sensible way possible. Put everything into perspective and don’t be afraid.
By the way, I might start sharing songs with some of my posts from time to time. I’m the sort of person who has a million and one pieces of music floating around in my head, and occasionally one will surface that resonates with my writing. It could be something I heard yesterday, or when I was six. Here’s today’s which I think is great background music for the scary noisiness of school: