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“I’ve been wanting to write this for ages…”

November 18, 2012

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I came across this post from one of Jabiz‘ students in Singapore on Friday evening and wanted to share it with the TALONS class for a few different reasons:

  • While our class blogging serves to strengthen our own community and connections between the different grades and morning and afternoon programs, I am always looking for ways to connect our conversations to similar ones going on ‘out there’ in the world.
  • What Solal is writing about here is a relevant and universal sentiment that follows thinking people around throughout their lives, but is especially acute in adolescence.
  • I think there are many TALONS, past and present, who would like to join in this conversation, and potentially extend it into different threads to pursue here, and on their own blogs.

Here is Solal’s post, “Being Unsocial:”

Sometimes, I feel kinda bad about being a social outcast. I mean, I don’t know people that well and I have trouble breaking the ice, but I don’t get how you finish this conversation:

Me: “Hello, my name is Solal….. (Awkward silence)
Guy I’m trying to make friends with: (Back away slowly)

Invasive? Yes
Can I stop myself from doing it. Yes
Do I stop myself from being weird. No

Because in my eyes, I’m not.

And I envy those people in the Lunch queue who just turn around, talk to random people and become best friends (and beyond) instantly. I find it hard to go beyond my class. And those lunch groups. ARGHHHHHH. I try to join them, but how? Do I just walk up, come up with something amazing to say and just hang out? Because I can never find the right thing to say. And I’m not popular. And people don’t take me seriously. Because of my size? No, there are loads of popular shorties. Because of my appearance? No, there are loads of popular uglies (no, I don’t mean you). Because of my personality? It seems rational and probably is the reason. But then there are the endless websites that tell you to be yourself and not change your personality. So now what? How do I change the fact that people go “Oh, what’s Solal doing here?”to my face? And if they say that to my face, what must they say behind my back?

That’s also why I don’t really tend to invite people over (yep, the question marks again) What if they don’t like the place where I live? What if my family are embarrassing? What if I embarrass myself? And if any of these things happen, then I leave a lasting impression on the person.

But I think the main reason that I’m practically friendless is because it has become ‘Uncool’ or ‘Unpopular’ to be friends with Solal. (Yeah guys, I’m not stupid. I do care.) I bring this up because recently, I sat down on a bench with two guys, started a conversation with a pun and got into a lasting chat. Because they didn’t know I existed before. Or the sixth graders in my bus. Good friends. Because they don’t know about the fact that they shouldn’t be friends with me.

Beyond being a great piece of brave writing I’d like to highlight for the TALONS class, I think it would be interesting to see this thread continue in our own writing and blogging. For instance, I’d be curious to know how you go about confronting the task of “being yourself in a world that is trying to make you into something else“? What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself on the subject? Is there something your Eminent Person Study has taught you about this process?

Something visible in the (32 as of this posting) comments to Solal’s post is that this idea of social isolation and anxiety struck a nerve across Jabiz’ network of edubloggers, enjoying a mini-viral phenomena that has probably near-crashed his site any number of times in the last week. And so I wonder if the TALONS – even in this week of Notables and Eminents and a host of other teenage stresses – might feel like lending a hand in creating something of a meme around Solal’s initial post.

Because this is something that Jabiz and I feel passionately about: that the reason we find blogging, the potential of the Internet, and this idea of learning in networks so compelling is that it allows us each to gain a foothold in our own searching, just like Solal is doing, and to use this foothold to amplify the fruits of our learning across the blogosphere. So I’m curious:

Does the above post strike a nerve with you? Why?

Does it make you want to write a song, or poem?

Does it show itself to you in the form of an animated GIF?

What about a hipster edit?

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