High school is the place for cliques and stereotypes. When you walk through the lunch table, you often notice that the same cliques always sit together. I felt like I didn’t belong with any of those so-called “cliques”. I felt as if I was a number during my junior and senior high days. I had trouble figuring out where I wanted to sit, so I decided to sit at a table in the back of the cafeteria by myself and would start crying because I was so lost. People really didn’t seem interested in getting to know me, so I didn’t really want to get to know them. Bullying was a major issue during freshman year and the beginning of sophomore year, but the boy who kept bullying me got kicked out of school during the second or third month of school during that year. The teachers and administration most likely became tired of all the complaints coming from my mother about his immature and disrespectful behavior. The positive side was I never had to see him again.
The “popular” kids are the ones who have lots of friends and who own the expensive cars and live in a big house. They are the ones who are always elected president of the student council, which is pretty much a popularity contest on its own. The same people run every single year and they end up winning because everybody thinks their “cool”. I wasn’t interested in running for student council at Freeport because I was an outcast. These same people were on the sports teams and had a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I felt like people didn’t even know I existed on this planet, and the only ones who did know I exist enjoyed belittling me and making my life a living hell. I tried hiding my Asperger’s and reaching out to the “cool” crowd, but they would either just tolerate me, ignore me or tell me they would “rather not talk”. I have said many times before that a true friend should not just “tolerate” me, they should want to spend time with me and they must always be willing to make time to spend with me.
I do look back and realize that I am better off without people like “Mr. Cool President of Student Council”. As described in my blog entry titled “Four Important Qualities of a Best Friend” I had an unfortunate incident with this same kid. I inadvertently sent a text message to the wrong contact, and he was the person who received it. We chatted online quite often and I thought we would become good friends. He used to pick on me back in junior high, so I thought “maybe he changed and wants to be my friend”. When summer came around, he would start ignoring me when I would start instant messaging him. When I greeted him he would sign off and ignore me. I would then write on his My-space wall then he would Delete my posts. It became even worse when the whole cell phone incident happened. The next day, I text messaged him and his friends. I asked them what they were up to, and then “Mr. Cool” snapped and said “You woke me up at midnight! What the fu** is your problem”? I then asked him what he was talking about, then he told me about the text message. I looked at my sent messages and I saw I addressed it to him instead of the person I intended to send it to. I explained to him that I did not intend to send that message to him, but he then said “whatever, just don’t talk to me”. I asked why he was being so rude to me and he said “I don’t want to be friends with you. Don’t talk to me”. I then started making nasty comments to him, and said things like “You are only going to work at Burger King after you graduate from high school. You may be Mr. Cool now, but you will be a loser after you graduate”. He then responded to me “Yeah, my friends and I are Mr. Cool. You just fu** off and leave me alone”. I continued to send him disrespectful messages, but he just ignored me. I was upset that he became angry with me about something I didn’t mean to do. For the next few days, I continued to experience negative feelings about myself. I felt that everybody in the world didn’t know I existed, and the only people who did know I existed wanted to belittle me. I wasn’t considered “cool” (according to the Freeport Senior High School standards) and I hated that about myself.
I looked up a definition for the word “cool” on the popular website Urban Dictionary.com, and this particular one caught my eye:
“Socially appealing; used to describe any behavior, object, ability or quality contributing to one’s social prowess”.
I laughed at this one because it was perfectly true about the kid in this situation. During junior high, he enjoyed talking about me behind my back. He would mock some of the Autistic behaviors I exhibited. I tended to look around the room and stare at things like the wall or the ceiling, and he would start staring at me. When I would look over at him he would point and laugh at me. He seemed to realize I didn’t like it by my facial expressions and laugh at me in front of his friends. His friends would either acknowledge him with a fake smile or try to change the subject. I talked to my mother about it, and she said “Maybe he wants to be your friend”. I found out that was not the case after the cell phone incident a few years later.
You can probably tell that I don’t really need to pay attention to the stereotypes from high school. The social politics make it seem that if you don’t go to events like football games or the prom, you are a nobody. The Computing Workshop summer program I am working teaches kids that would most likely be considered “uncool” in a regular high school. Schools often think they will not be successful in the career field they want to pursue. This program came into existence because the staff members want to prove these school districts wrong. These school districts are not willing to try anything new. They just want to do things the way they are used to. They also try to discourage these students into obtaining a post secondary education because they feel they won’t succeed. They use these threatening tactics by saying things like “college is rough, you get a lot more homework”. They focus on the negative things about college and not the positives. Helping the “uncool” kids has really turned out to be a “cool” thing to do during the summer.
During the board meetings at Lenape, I was amazed at how well students expressed their concerns about the half day issue. Many of these students were also considered “uncool” in their original school of residence. The teachers really cared about them and they want them to be the most successful individuals they can be after high school. I think that is a very “cool” thing.
I am only willing to stick with the friends that accept me for who I am and who will not try to change me into a different person. I will only hang out with a person who will ignore the high school stereotypes and not try to make me into a “normal person”. I made the mistake into trusting “Mr. Cool President of Student Council”. Having at least one friend that really likes you is a very “cool” thing. Aaron likes me for who I am and he doesn’t try to magically make me into a “normal person”. If it were not for places like Computing Workshop and Lenape, I don’t even know if I could have finished high school. I would most likely be working at a fast food restaurant making minimum wage. I have learned that I should be thankful for the things I have and not focus on the things I don’t have. I didn’t have the pleasure of being “cool” at Freeport, and that doesn’t mean a single thing to me because I am not there anymore. I am cool to my real friends and my family, and that is the only thing that matters to me.