When I am lazy

Just because I feel like posting something light-hearted, I thought I’d make a post about what I do when I’m being lazy with my schoolwork. This is what laziness looks like in me (science and engineering types may relate – especially those from places with harsh winters):

  • 9 pages of calculus to derive and equation I need from first principles because I don’t want to go to the library to get a copy of the course textbook because that means going outside when it’s -30C out.
  • Using my scanner to photocopy the special report paper my assignments have to be completed on  because I don’t want to go back to campus to pick up the pad I forgot there.
  • Two hours of calculus so I can avoid leaving the building to pick up my notebook to get an equation I need for an assignment
  • One hour of Excel programming so I won’t have to solve an iterative problem by hand… which probably would’ve only taken 20 minutes or so to solve by hand but I refuse to be a human computer, damn it, that’s what computers are for.
  • Two hours of programming to solve the general case of an assignment because I resent assignment that consist of forced practice… when just doing the assignment probably would’ve only taken a half hours.

And so on. In general “me being lazy” consists of me refusing to do things I find outrageously tedious (e.g. iterative problems by hand, forced practice of the same type of problem over and over), or avoiding going outside in cold weather. I can and will often go to great lengths to avoid doing those things.

What do you look like when you’re being lazy?

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Gatekeeping

You might not believe this to read my writing today, but I did not receive any education in writing until ninth grade.

None.

I received spelling lessons, sure. And I received handwriting lessons. Everything else was withheld until I could hand write to “grade level.”

Which, since as an adult I still have handwriting that’s messier than that of most third-graders I’ve met, happened never.

I’ve mentioned before about my ninth grade teacher and how she saved my education, but I don’t remember if I ever fully explained the extent to which she saved my education.

Before 9th grade, my grammar knowledge was almost nonexistent. I knew that periods go at the end of sentences and that question marks indicate questions and that exclamation marks indicate an exclamation and that quotation marks go around stuff people said because I read voraciously. Beyond that, nothing. Aside from periods, I didn’t even know what the rest of them were called. Periods, I only knew because I got curious and looked up why people say, “period!” when they’re trying to emphasize something (for you non-North Americans out there, the equivalent is “full stop!” and has the same etymology). I was a ninth grader who would sometimes still spell cat with a K, who put commas in places that made no sense, and who didn’t even know that the colon-like thing with a comma instead of a period at the bottom was called a semicolon. I had no idea how to write an essay or a paragraph. I didn’t even know what an essay was, beyond “written thing longer than a paragraph.” You could’ve handed me a short story and called it an essay and I wouldn’t have known the difference.

Why?

Gatekeeping.

My teachers knew I loved learning. They knew writing gave me a hard time and I hated it. So they came up with the bright idea to “motivate” me to learn how to handwrite by holding hostage the rest of my education in English. I also did calculus and read at university level, and this was used as “proof” of the “fact” that I could have written neatly if I wanted to, so obviously I must want to spend my days in boredom and pain and occasional physical restraint when it got too much and I refused to scribe further.

So while other kids learned paragraphs and sentence structure, I was sat at the back with handwriting sheets. Reams and reams of them. When my parents got the school to agree to not give me any more handwriting sheets, they instead gave me stuff to copy over and told all the teachers to mark me on handwriting. Same shit, different format. They still gave me the assignments everyone else got, but instead of being given writing, grammar, and composition exercises in class, I was given handwriting work. Instead of listening to the teacher teach on those subjects, I was told to practice more handwriting.

Because I read so much, I had a decent intuitive feel for grammar – I knew when stuff looked wrong versus when it looked right. But I didn’t understand why it looked wrong or right, just that it did. Thus, more obscure or advanced grammar rules (like when you use a semicolon or why you use parentheses) were beyond me. Intuition is no substitute for understanding and knowledge, but they pointed out that since I did okay on the assignments that were handed out, I needed to practice handwriting more than I needed to learn grammar, sentence structure, or composition.

It was getting to the point that my clumsy grammar was affecting my other subjects. In history, a third grade teacher doesn’t care if you splice a comma so long as you get your dates right. In eighth grade, they do. In science, a fourth grade teacher doesn’t care if your short answer doesn’t have proper paragraph format. In seventh, they do. So I was being docked points for not using grammar skills I’d never been taught in the first place.

When my ninth grade teacher arranged for me to type, she also arranged for me to actually get the same work and education as the other kids. Without her, I would not have had a hope in hell of passing my provincial exams in high school, and in turn, I would not have gained admittance to university. I would not know how to formulate an argument. I would not know how to write a paragraph, let alone the thesis I submitted last year. All because I can’t make pretty letters on paper.

Everything I have ever done with writing, I owe to her, and to her firm opposition to scholastic gatekeeping. And for that reason, I get angry when I see people – especially teachers – talk about how kids “can’t” learn Subject Y until they’ve passed Unrelated Milestone X. I I still haven’t passed my Unrelated Milestone, but I think I’m pretty damn good at my Subject Y. Without a teacher willing to look past the dogma of handwriting then spelling then grammar then sentence structure then composition, I would never have learned to write.

One final note: I also learned the rest of it out of order: I grasped sentence structure before spelling, and composition before I understood why grammar was necessary. Order of how stuff is typically taught is not always the order that it must be learned in. Some kids learn differently and need to grasp Milestone X+3 before they’ll get Milestone X, and teachers need to learn to deal with that.

Why “labels are harmful” is harmful

Trigger warning: Discussion of teacher abuse of a student, meltdowns, and the consequences of growing up with undiagnosed disabilities

Okay, so there is going to be a lot of personal history in this post. I present myself as a case study of why the idea of labels being harmful is both harmful to kids with disabilities and harmful to adults with disabilities. Since, by necessity, I’m discussing me in this post, it’s going to be a lot of anecdata, but I might follow it up with some studies later on to back up what I’m saying because I’ve lost count of the disabled people and disability services professionals who’ve told me analogous stories to mine. I know I’m not an isolated or unusual case here.

I’ve posted elsewhere about why labels are harmful is bullshit, a post I will probably recycle at some point for a post here. Today I want to argue that the labels are harmful bullshit is actually actively harmful.

My family moved around a lot when I was a kid. By the time I was 10, I’d lived in 3 countries, 5 Canadian provinces, and in 8 different cities. One such move came when I was around 6. At my new school, I didn’t make much friends. I was lucky to be placed in a pilot program the school was running of semi-personalized curricula for each student, so I could learn at my own pace in everything. I devoured the coursework and blasted past the grade requirements for some subjects in under a month (math, English, science), while in others (handwriting and phys ed, naturellement), I was below grade level. Still others, I was about on par with my grade peers (History, mostly). I was never bored, was the teacher’s pet, and thrived.

My parents were disturbed by my lack of friends.Since I had access to the school library (books!), I spent my recess and lunch hour reading, and I’d bring two or three books home after school, and return them to the library, finished, the next day. My vocabulary exploded, and other kids started to complain that I talked “like a book.” When offered the chance to go play with other kids, I’d shrug and say, “I want to read.” and then go to my room and read.

My parents took me to a child psychologist. Their previously over-friendly (no concept of boundaries), extremely active (hyperactive) child had suddenly transformed into a bookish, mostly-sedentary recluse. The toy cars she’d previously been obsessed with stayed forgotten in the closet in favor of books that she blasted through almost unbelievably fast. This was a Problem. Given the recent move, they guessed I might be depressed and took me to a child psychologist.

Meanwhile, my teacher had also noticed my lack of interest in other students. He noticed I was cheerful when I got to spend time doing what I liked (books!) and that you could bribe me to tolerate even my most hated subjects so long as there was a book in it for me when I was done. He heard me info-dump to other kids and realized that a lot of my conversation was me repeating lines that I’d read in books, trying and failing at seeming clever by clumsily repeating witticisms that had worked well for characters I liked with no regard to the context they were said in.

My teacher, I’m almost certain, had an autistic kid. He saw the similarities between me and his son and broached the subject with my parents. I wasn’t having too much trouble at school yet – even though I didn’t have any friends and the other kids thought I was a very strange kid indeed, with my books and my stutter and my lack of concern for manners or eye contact – but, he worried, it was only a matter of time before different meant bullied, and he knew that the school could better protect me if I was diagnosed. He told my parents this, while I sorted the books in the back of the classroom by reading level, subject, author (alphabetically) and title (also alphabetically). I imagine they all thought I wasn’t listening. He did not use the words “autism” or “Asperger’s”, but rather “difficulty socializing,” “too attached to routines,” “fidgety,” and “different,” cushioned by “smart,” “enthusiastic,” and “pleasant.” He suggested my parents see a developmental psychologist, who’d helped his son with similar issues.

My parents figured that since I was already seeing a psychologist, they could just ask that psychologist what she thought. Problem: This psychologist did not specialize in developmental disabilities. She told my parents that I was not depressed (correct), that I was introverted (correct), and that they and I would both be made miserable by trying to change my natural disposition (correct). As for the problems socializing and fidgetyness, I was probably shy and nervous, since the only disorders that cause that were Autism and ADHD, and only boys get those. Plus, she told my parents, labels are harmful because they limit the kids they’re placed on. She told my parents I didn’t need special education or extra help, I needed a gifted and talented program (as if the two are mutually exclusive), and that if I wasn’t in one, my boredom would lead me to act out and cause behavior issues at school. She encouraged my parents not to get me “labelled,” saying that it would be a shame to see a bright girl like me limited in such a way.

Things were fine until we moved again. Third grade, new school. This school had no gifted and talented program. I went from doing pre-calculus to arithmetic, and was faced with similarly shocking level changes in all of my subjects. Handwriting was the worst: rather than having a teacher who would accept that I couldn’t write quickly and give me extra time, my new teacher not only refused extra time, but expected me to do cursive. Neatly. I can’t do that at 26, nearly two decades later. It was unreasonable to expect it of me at 8.

I started to have trouble in school. A lot of trouble. Not with the subject material because aside from handwriting and phys ed, I was ahead of grade level in this new school system. I had trouble behaviorally. A lot of trouble behaviorally. Just as the psychologist had predicted, I acted out when I was bored. Since the work was so easy and the teacher refused to let me do anything except sit quietly at my desk when I was done, I was bored a lot. By the end of the first month, I spent more time in the in-school suspension room than in class.

Not that I minded, because my first-grade teacher’s prediction had come true as well: Different now also meant bullied. I did not make a good first impression when I spent my introduction to the class monologing about weather until the teacher had to cut me off and send me to my new seat, and tormenting me quickly became the class past-time. The teacher didn’t like me because of my behavior problems, so she turned a blind eye or punished me for being the victim just to get me out of her hair. I soon knew the secretary on a first-name basis and became her darling.

“I don’t know why she keeps sending you here, sweetheart,” the secretary would say. “You’re a great kid!”

And for her, I was – the in-school suspension room was quiet, free of bullies, and the secretary would let me read as much as I wanted of whatever I wanted once I was done my work (boooks!), so I wasn’t bored. Why wouldn’t I behave?

A conference was called to sort out my behavior issues. The teachers and new principal asked me why I was so bad in class but so good for the secretary and I shrugged and said, “I dunno.” They asked how I felt in class. After a long silence during which I fidgeted a lot, I said to the table in front of me, “Bored.” What bores you was the next question. “All of it.” I replied. There was a lot of back-and forth that I ignored in favor of studying the pattern on the table. I remember my parents arguing for me getting a modified curriculum, the principle debating whether to skip me ahead, and my parents arguing that I was behind enough socially already and that skipping me ahead would only make things worse. In the end, they agreed that I would stay with my age-peers, but I’d be given more difficult work and that I could grab books to read at the back of the room when finished.

Those accommodations never happened. My teacher felt that she could hold my more difficult work hostage to me “behaving” and regarding getting a book, “If I let you, then everyone will want to”. So I kept misbehaving. And getting sent to the in-school suspension room. Other teachers joked that they should water me like one of the plants, I was there so much. I would tell them they shouldn’t water me since I’m not a plant. I didn’t get why they found that funny.

Another conference was called. I told the principal that the work was still too easy and that I wasn’t being allowed to get a book. The teacher lied and said I was. I got punished for being a liar and melted down, throwing a chair at the wall and hitting myself. My parents were shocked at the “tantrum” since I’d never been a difficult child – my mother says I seemed to skip the terrible twos entirely, so long as I had blocks to stack and stuff to sort.

My parents locked me in their car while I melted down and went inside to finish the meeting. They told me later that the principal suggested they take me to a developmental psychologist, since he felt my explosion wasn’t normal and I was definitely having a lot of trouble socially and behaviorally. He said he wasn’t sure it was me willfully being bad, since I was so much better in the in-school suspension room. He said there might be something making the difference between the two environments. My parents refused. “There’s nothing wrong with you that discipline and more difficult work won’t fix.”

This pattern repeated with varying severity all through school, as my handwriting fell further and further behind grade level, and the bullying worsened. I was either the pet or the terror, and it all depended on whether the teacher kept me interested. I got a reputation for being high-strung, unpredictable, wild, undisciplined. Later: untidy, disorganized, scatter-brained, rude, and overbearing were added. I was told often by teachers that as smart as I was, I could be anything, but I probably wouldn’t because I didn’t want to. My third grade teacher was the first, but not the last, teacher to predict that I would never amount to anything in life and would likely be in jail by 20. She was the only one that went so far as to call me worthless and a bitch, or to tell other kids to hit me for misbehaving, though.

I was frequently singled out in gym for humiliation by the teacher since he felt I couldn’t possibly be that bad at [insert skill here]. Except I was.

Sometime around fourth grade, my parents had started giving me “handwriting lessons” where they’d scream at me that it wasn’t hard and that my hand didn’t hurt as I cried and tried to finish the damn sheets neatly enough to satisfy them. I never succeeded. When the pain of my hand got too much, I’d refuse to write anymore and then my parents would physically restrain me and my father would force me to finish the sheet neatly. “There!” they’d say cheerfully when he finished, giving me a hearty smack on the back. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

“I hate you,” I’d often reply, and get sent to my room.

That went on for over a year. One day, on summer break, my mother thought some extra practice might be a good idea for me, so my handwriting didn’t atrophy over the summer. I came inside from climbing trees and saw the handwriting set up on the dinner table and immediately melted down. I don’t remember what happened. I do remember that whatever I did, my throat and hands and head were sore afterwards and it convinced my parents their “lessons” were making me miserable, because I never had to do them again, and my parents secured an agreement from the school that I wouldn’t have to do any more “extra practice.”

The school responded by end-running my parents’ refusal to force me to torture myself with handwriting lessons: They started making handwriting quality part of the marking scheme for all of my subjects, and they refused to let me type. My grades in all subjects plummeted. I’d been a straight 95%+ student. I still deserved those marks, but because I physically couldn’t make good enough handwriting, my marks plummeted to low 70s. I spent hours copying over my assignments, often to no avail. When I hit burnout, I wouldn’t do any homework, because a 0 I deserved was less painful than a 72% I didn’t.

(Note that I was, and remain, a perfectionist. A 100% was the only mark I ever felt happy about, and if I got below 95%, I would cry about it. A mark below 75% would induce meltdown. If I made myself not care and refuse to do it, it protected me from the inevitable disappointment of an low mark that I couldn’t help.)

The bullying got worse. I came home crying at least weekly, and I had a lot of bruises on my back and sides from kids hitting me. They made a game of tag out of it: They’d hit me hard enough to bruise, and then go tag their friends. “[my name] germs, no returns!” they’d sign-song. Another time, they refused to call me by name, and instead only referred to me as Beaver – because of my overbite – for two months. And so on. I told my parents, and was told that I should stand up for myself. I stood up for myself in school and got punished by the teachers. I told my parents and was taught that I shouldn’t stand out so much. I tried not standing out, and my clumsy attempts at fitting in were met with derision. I told my parents of my failure, and was told that I should develop a thicker skin. I was over-sensitive. I should just ignore them. I wondered how you could “just ignore” every single interaction with your age-peers, all school day, every school day, for years on end. They told me to stop being defeatist, and that I could fit in if I wanted to, but I must like the attention of standing out.

I began to internalize a lot of bad things. Lazy. Willful. Bratty. Careless. Apathetic Doesn’t want to succeed. Stupid. Freak. Ugly. Thin-skinned. Over-sensitive. Defeatist. Etc. I was receiving the messages on so many fronts – from my parents, from my teachers, from my classmates – that I felt they couldn’t all be wrong. Maybe I really do just not want to work hard enough. Maybe it really is all my fault.

I have spent the time since I left high school trying to erase messages I internalized by the time I was twelve. All because I wasn’t given the right “label” and instead of receiving help for my disabilities, I was written off as a lazy brat. That is how a refusal to give your kid the gift of a correct diagnosis harms them. Because they’ll get labelled anyway – and it will be with words a hell of a lot more painful and a message a hell of a lot more difficult to overcome than simply “different” or “disabled.”

Things, for me, only started turning around when I had a teacher who was willing to look past the endless notes of “does not work up to potential” “is careless in her work” and “behavior problems need work” and actually try to get to the root of the problem. She challenged me where appropriate and accommodated me where necessary. She taught me that I could succeed when I wanted to – I just had to be allowed to type in order to be able to. She arranged typing accommodations and got a label that worked for me, rather than one that worked against me. I wonder how much less pain and how much more progress I could have made in school if more than just my handwriting issues had been addressed. I’ll never know, because my parents refused to even investigate the possibility their kid might have a disability, out of fear of some ominous “label”.

But let me be perfectly clear: Not having any label didn’t stop me from getting labelled, and not having a diagnosis did me far, far more harm than having a diagnosis might have. I don’t know how to convey this to someone who didn’t grow up with absolute knowledge that you would never amount to anything, but the baggage of my childhood is such that every birthday I spend still not in jail and not in a substance abuse induced stupor and not in criminal activity? Is a surprise to me. Because on some level, I still feel like I’m destined for criminality and a bad fate. It’s all my teachers ever expected me to amount to.

And as a result of that? I’m a 26-year-old PhD candidate with two degrees under my belt and a 4.3GPA, and I still don’t feel good enough. And I don’t think I ever will.

Think on that, and then try to tell me that it’s better not to get kids appropriate diagnoses for their disabilities.

 

Lies they told me in school.

This one goes out to the kids who need to hear it, and the adults who lived it. They know who they are.

  1. “In the real world, you sometimes have to do things you don’t want to do.” – Not true unless armed people are involved. In the “real world,” near everything is a cost-benefit analysis, and you might do stuff you don’t like to do because you do like the payoff. This is different from being forced to do stuff you don’t want to do because it’s not worth it to you. That, you don’t have to do, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to bully you into compliance.
  2. “You’ll need to know how to write when you get older.” – True in the sense that you’ll need to know how to fill out forms, etc. Not true in the sense that your teacher is trying to make you believe – that handwriting has to be legible, or that you need the 5-paragraph essay (unless your job requires it). More jobs don’t require legible handwriting and a 5-paragraph essay than do – I get a lot of use out of essay structure, but none out of handwriting. Others I know get some use out of handwriting, but none out of essay structure. No adult I know handwrites 5-paragraph essays ever. Doesn’t mean that jobs that require both don’t exist, but does mean that jobs that require both are a hell of a lot less common than jobs that will let you compensate for stuff that gives you trouble.
  3. “Doing [insert pointless make-work here] will teach you discipline and diligence.” No, doing pointless make-work teaches you compliance. Working hard on something you care about to produce something at a high standard will teach you discipline and diligence.
  4. “You need a thicker skin. In the real world, nobody will protect you from bullies.” In the real world, you’re usually not forced to spend most of your day around bullies. In the real world, you get to choose who you spend time around. In the real world, if people deluge you on a daily basis with insults and threats and just won’t leave you alone, it’s called “harassment” and sometimes “uttering threats” and if it’s bad enough, you can press charges. In the real world, decent friends don’t let others bully you. In the real world, when people beat the crap out of you, it’s called “assault” and you can press charges. In the real world, a gang assaulting a smaller person is not brushed off as “just kids being kids.” In the real world, reasonable people will not expect you to be comfortable with and civil to those who have assaulted you.
  5. “You need to work past it. In the real world, you won’t be given special consideration.” In the real world, you often won’t need “special consideration” because many bosses don’t care how you get the work done as long as it’s done and up to standard so you’re free to self-accommodate as needed. Where that fails, in the real world, disability rights are a thing and you can force the issue. It may not make you friends and you may get backlash, but in the real world, just as in school, you have rights. Teachers who say this are just looking to make excuses for their own laziness.

Why geek chic and wannabe outcasts piss me off

Trigger Warning: appropriation, bullying, violence, suicide, depression

Okay, I was talking with someone, and they said something that let me figure out why a lot of wannabe outcasts (often but not always hipsters) piss me off.

Wannabe outcasts (and geek chic shit in general) piss me off because they appropriate what I was in school. They’re all, “I was totes the unpopular kid in school!” and I’m sitting there thinking, uh, no. No, you weren’t. I can tell you weren’t because you treat bullying as if it’s no biggie, and if you were really the outcast you claim you were, you wouldn’t be able to pretend that shit is no biggie. If you were really the outcast you claim you were, there would be an undercurrent of anger/hurt/fear/rage/sadness/resignation in your language whenever you talk about it. If you were really the outcast you claim you were, you wouldn’t be shocked when I’m all, “Yeah, you just have to put stuff like having your head slammed in the locker and people beat you when you fall down behind you, amirite?” You wouldn’t be all, “That happened?! No way, that doesn’t happen in school!” You would be, “Yeah, sounds familiar.”

Because shit like that fucking well does happen in school. You don’t realize it does, because you weren’t the outcast you claim you were, you appropriative fuckhead.

Now, to clarify: I’m talking about the hipsters and wannabe outcasts and adult geeks who are so into their “popular stuff is bad” that they have to appropriate a social status they’ve never had in their life. I have no problem with those who actually were what they say they were. I also have no problem with people being pretentious. Here’s the thing: Pretension itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Pretension has allowed a lot of my favorite bands to do some really awesome things with music, like substituting autotune for a guitar solo, or substituting a violin for guitar in alternative rock. Pretension, used appropriately, can be a force for good. So I’m not criticizing the ones who are merely pretentious.

No, I’m criticizing the ones who appropriate an outcast status they have no right – or real desire – to claim. Everyone wants to be a geeky outcast. Nobody wants to deal with the emotional baggage of the bullying and abuse that comes with it.

It pisses me the fuck off, because here’s Mx I-was-on-the-hockey-team-in-a-Canadian-high-school pretensioning at me that they have this cool band that I’ve probably never heard of (I have because I’m friends with a bunch of music nerds) but speaks to their soul because they were the outcast in high school when they’ve probably never experienced peer bullying to the extent that outcasts do in their life.

As someone who was actually an outcast in school, here’s a protip: If you were never beaten up in front of a teacher and had the teacher do nothing because getting beaten up will teach you to try to fit in more, if you ever had someone hit you for literally no reason and had another kid laugh and tell them to do it again, if you never had other kids call you by the wrong pronouns maliciously because you weren’t gender-conforming enough or because they thought they knew your gender better than you and the teachers thought it was funny, if you never had your lunch ruined just for shits and giggles every day of a week until you went outside to eat in -30C weather, if you never went the long way because you saw one of your bullies in the hall, if you never threw up in the morning before school because the thought of going made your stomach want to tie itself into a pretzel, if you regularly went more than a day or two without having some slur or another hurled at you, if you never ate lunch in the bathroom, if you never hid in the library, if you never had the librarian kick you out because “you have to learn how to deal with your problems” when she realized you came to the library on lunch as much because it was safe as because you liked books, if you never were the kid that other kids would be teased if they talked to, if you never had the entire class insult you for hours just to see if they could make you cry and then have your parents tell you you need to be less sensitive when the teacher called to get them to pick you up because you were sobbing uncontrollably and unable to talk and the teacher claimed to not know what was wrong even though they were right fucking there, if you never hated your classmates so much that you fantasized about horrible things happening to them and were terrified that you were turning into a monster, if you never had another kid give you a new and insulting name and have that become your name for the next three years and even the teachers called you by it sometimes, if you never went through your entire school career being able to count your friends on one hand and have at least four fingers left over, if you never knew that nobody would help you ever even if your friend was right there when they started in on you, if you never had anything even approaching that level of severity happen to you and if that level of severity of bullying and the apathy in response to it is at all shocking to you…

… I can pretty much guarantee you weren’t your school’s outcast.

That is not to say that no hipsters, geeks and outcasts ever experienced what they claim. I know for a fact that’s not true. Some of them I know have. But, what I’m saying is: If the paragraph above seems unbelievable to you, you probably weren’t your school’s outcast. Because that? That’s the outcast experience right there. It’s not “they just don’t understand my brilliance!” It’s “they are literally trying to bully me into suicide because they think it would be funny for me to die that way. And I’m so desperate and exhausted and scared that I just might give in and do it because I can’t fucking well take it anymore.”

So, if you weren’t the outcast, if the above paragraph is mind-boggling and unbelievable to you, if the previous sentence contains a mindset alien to you, don’t claim you were. When you do, it cheapens my experiences and the experiences of my fellow outcasts. Don’t do that. We had enough shit stolen from us growing up. We don’t need you to steal our stories and cheapen our experiences, too.

To those who were outcasts: Sympathy and camaraderie. Like Shane Koyczan says in his poem, “We are graduating members of the class of fuck off we made it.”

To those who are currently outcasts: Survive. Make it. Get to university or college or work or wherever and find your people. You are better than those who torture you for their amusement. You do not deserve this. You can make it. You’ve made it this far, through fire and struggle and pain that nobody should have to deal with.

Here is an incomplete list of anti-bullying organizations, for victims, friends and relatives that I started to compile in response to the Rehtaeh Parsons case. If you know of an organization not already listed there, leave a comment here and I’ll add it. I’m especially deficient in non-English resources.