Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I’m Worried He’ll Call Me Ugly”

Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter is answered by film and writing student, Callie Schuette.

I’m a fourteen-year-old girl and I have a crush question. I’m in ninth grade and we have mixed lunches at the high school, so I’ve got upperclassmen in my lunch. I started kind-of liking one of the boys who plays football during lunch, but I don’t know how to talk to him for several reasons. Firstly, I’m pretty sure he’s an upperclassmen. Secondly, I’ve never dated before and I don’t have many guy friends. I’m very awkward as well. Thirdly, I’m worried he won’t like me because of my skin color or my looks. A lot of the other upperclassmen have been calling me ugly and making fun of my hair (I’ve got an Afro), and I don’t want him to do the same. What should I do? β€” Upperclassman Crush

Unfortunately, there is no magical phrase I can tell you to unleash on your boy that would guarantee you’d make the perfect first impression on him. No secret opening line to make him go all weak in the knees. What I can tell you, and I don’t mean to sound totally cheesy with this, is that confidence is key.

I mention this because there are some clear insecurities present in your letter, which is nothing to feel ashamed of as everyone has at least a few things they feel insecure about – especially in high school. Those upperclassmen who’ve made fun of your looks? They are incredibly insecure and unhappy with themselves. I know, because people who are happy don’t feel the need to put other people down. Only people desperate to feel better about themselves do that. Which is not to say what they’re doing or what they’ve said to you is okay. It’s not okay. I just want you to see that really, those mean things they’ve said may be DIRECTED at you, but they’re not ABOUT you. It’s just weak people trying to put their own ugliness on you.

Knowing that, I want you to try and disregard all the ugly things these people have said to you. I want you to look at yourself, and not to let their anger taint what you see. I want you to do this, because this is the first step to becoming the best and most attractive person you can be. If you can manage to see the value in yourself, to really start to love who you are, then you will have a huge edge over all your classmates.

How can you do it? Gradually. It can start with small things – things that make you feel pretty, or cool. Put together an outfit that makes you feel good, wear something that accents your hair and makes you feel proud to have it. Try to develop an in interest in music, or art, or even sports – things that will give you something to talk about and share with other people. If you can indulge in things that make you feel interesting and attractive, other people will start to see you that way too.

I know you’re thinking, “Great, but what do I do about my crush?” I can’t tell you whether or not you should go for it. It’s entirely up to you to take that leap. I can tell you that if you work on yourself and develop your confidence, you’ll be able to make your best first impression on him. And even if you don’t have an opportunity to talk to him, you will be much better off for the growing you’ve enabled yourself to do (and you may just find the “new and improved” you attracting the attention of other potential crushes). It’s all about the confidence.

*Callie is a 21-year-old student and aspiring comedic screenwriter from Austin, Texas. She’s pretty well-practiced in the art of giving advice (thanks to her friends, family, and the odd stranger) and attributes her enjoyment in doing so both to her deep sense of empathy and her somewhat nerdy love of analyzing things. She also enjoys excessively long car rides, sweet thai chili sauce, and space westerns.



94 comments… add one
  • Nadine November 4, 2011, 7:15 am

    I would just like to add to Callie’s wonderful advice, that if you don’t get the opportunity to speak to him, enjoy the crush anyway. Crushes are fun! You get to watch someone and think about them and giggle about them! Practising your confidence on your crushes is so so so good as well.
    And if people are making fun of you for your skin colour, fuck them. That is all.

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    • DudeInChicago November 4, 2011, 4:01 pm

      “…fuck them.”
      But not literally, k?


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  • sweetleaf November 4, 2011, 8:16 am

    When I was in high school I would obsess over my crushes, but I would never talk to them. I didn’t have the confidence. I don’t know what I was so afraid of. I guess maybe I thought I wasn’t pretty enough, or my teeth weren’t straight enough, or my social class wasn’t on par and you know what? I’m 28 now and I regret not talking to them and not having confidence in myself then. So do it, girl! Just go say, ‘hey what’s up?”:)

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    • Courtney November 4, 2011, 2:47 pm

      THIS! Me too, there is so much I regret about high school, I regret not getting involved in more, meeting more people, being confident, flirting with my crushes and having my personality show through, because I was so quiet during HS, its a miracle i had any friends! Oh well, can’t go back. Good luck if you go for it LW!!

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  • Christy November 4, 2011, 8:23 am

    And as a side note, some people find Afros very attractive, and if the guy you’re interested in doesn’t like your Afro, there are plenty of people who will like it.

    (I’m saying this as an entirely self-serving public service announcement because I think Afros are HOT–on women around my age of course–and I want women of all ages to rock an Afro. Seriously, I can’t think of anything sexier than a woman rocking natural hair.)

    And go for the guy, because otherwise you’ll build it up in your head and then when you DO speak to him, you’ll be 100x more awkward than you actually are because you’ve built it up so much in your head. Trust me, I’ve been there.

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    • MissDre November 4, 2011, 9:04 am

      I think ladies rockin’ afros are sexy as hell too πŸ™‚ be proud of what you got and show it off!

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    • Wendy November 4, 2011, 9:06 am

      Afros are totally hot. If I had the hair for it, I’d rock the hell out of an afro. Coolest hairstyle, hands down.

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      • GatorGirl November 4, 2011, 9:10 am

        I def agree. I’ve always wanted an Afro.

      • Allison November 4, 2011, 9:13 am

        Me too. Alas, I have ridiculously straight, thin hair, so that’s never gonna happen.

      • MissDre November 4, 2011, 9:21 am

        Me too. I’m so jealous of girls with volume!

      • plasticepoxy November 4, 2011, 11:27 am

        Me too. I can’t even keep my hair permed, it’s so straight πŸ™

      • Painted_lady November 4, 2011, 1:02 pm

        I have the hair for it, but I look like…well, like a white girl with an Afro. Something like Mr. Kotter’s fraternal twin sister. It’s depressing.

      • SimonTheGrey November 4, 2011, 9:11 pm

        I actually have a white girl fro if I don’t tame my hair every day. Straight on top, curly on bottom, kinkish in the middle…I can’t wear it down. If I do, by the end of the day, I look like Alice from the Dilbert cartoons – I have a PUFF of hair. And I really don’t have the look to carry it out (I’m short and fat – when my hair poofs, I look like a powderbrush).

    • Matcha November 4, 2011, 11:13 am

      I always think women with afros are so fashionable and chic. Rocking natural hair always says confidence to me.

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    • HmC November 4, 2011, 12:53 pm

      As the owner of a head full of the straightest, limpest blonde hair ever, I am passionately jealous of people with texture, body, and curliness to their hair! I consider afros to be so beautiful, it makes me sad that people with them go so out of their way to make their hair more straight and european-looking. Of course, that’s their prerogative! I just genuinely think natural hair is gorgeous.

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  • GatorGirl November 4, 2011, 9:10 am

    LW, Callie hit the mark with the first half of her advice. You need to be proud of your own body/appearance before other people will be. Do the small things she mentioned- wear clothes that make you feel good, style your afro in a way you feel beautiful. By having an exterior that you are confident and proud of your self esteem and confidence will grow. I’d like to add- consider meeting with a school counselor about the bullying and your low self-esteem. Many people struggle with insecurities in high school, talking with someone may help.

    I do disagree with Callie and most commenter’s about “just going for it.” High school can be a vicious place. It sounds like upperclassmen are already bullying you and you could be putting yourself out there for more teasing. I do not want to crush your hopes, but dating the an upperclassman football player is an exception to the rule. Have your crush and giggle with your friends, but in my opinion I would protect your heart and keep the crush to yourself.

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    • LennyBee November 4, 2011, 11:16 am

      I agree. High school can be a really tough time and it’s hard to date outside of your social circle. Do it only if you can trust it won’t cause more bullying, and when you know that a rejection won’t crush your self-esteem. High school’s hard enough without trying to date the cool kids.

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      • LennyBee November 4, 2011, 11:19 am

        Also – the best way to date outside your social circle is to expand your social circle until it includes those you may want to date. Join clubs, play sports, get involved in activities where you may encounter and get to know your crushes in a relaxed social atmosphere.

      • summerkitten26 November 4, 2011, 2:05 pm

        I just want to thumbs up this more! this is so on the mark. it’s not that you should just try to date someone you think is “cool” even though you think they’re “out of your league.” joining more clubs and activities that you’re actually interested in (aka not because you think it’ll make you LOOK cool) will help build confidence and passion AND give you something to talk about on a date!there’s no reason to put yourself in a pigeonhole, especially in high school. not to knock the crush, but maybe by exploring things that you want/like to do, you can find someone who you think is a way better match for you because you have things in common. i agree with the comments above that trying to date the football player may end in more teasing, but only because it would come out of the blue. maybe if you had some crossover interests or something to gradually lead to multiple conversations, then you wouldn’t be the chick who’s always hanging around him. you’d be the cool chick he talks to. good luck, whatever decision you make!

    • Jess November 4, 2011, 3:33 pm

      yea also i think 14 is too young for dating- i mean if she’s this worried/awkward about it she is obviously not ready. a bad dating experience at that age can really mess someone up for a long time. 14 is still a child

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  • bethany November 4, 2011, 9:12 am

    Fantastic advice, Callie! I also want to add, that as a 30-something, I’ve heard from several people and friends that years after high school someone will say “oh, I had a crush on you in high school”, and the other person is shocked because the crushee never even talked to them!! My advice to you is to just be friendly. Go out of your way to be nice to everyone (but don’t take it to a creepy/desperate level)- a casual hi, or a smile or holding the door for someone goes a long way. Maybe through doing this you’ll find the confidence to talk to your crcush too!

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  • Budj November 4, 2011, 9:57 am

    First, thanks for making me aware of the fact that I should watch my language on the site…had no idea such youngin’s were lurking here.

    Second, you will have a lot more of these crushes in high school. And you will find some hilarity later in life when you realize that you had such strong feelings for someone / people you knew nothing about….I mean…you look at this guy from across the room, you know he is popular and on the football team, but you don’t know anything about him. That unknown makes it a lot harder to just up and talk to him.

    If he is friends with those jerks that make fun of you I would lay low, otherwise, see if he is in any other school activities that you could join and try and meet him that way. Talking to him in that environment would be a lot easier, not as nerve racking, and allow YOU to show through rather than the “omg-i’m-talking-to-my-crush-in-front-of-the-entire-cafeteria” jitters.

    Callie was spot on with the confidence discussion and I wouldn’t worry about your fro either because a lot of women can pull them off well and a lot of guys dig it.

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    • Budj November 4, 2011, 10:52 am

      Oh and a great example of a perfectly rocked fro on a hott chick is Astrid from Fringe.

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      • Nadine November 4, 2011, 11:48 am

        Oh my god, Astrid from Fringe is so hot.

      • GatorGirl November 4, 2011, 12:48 pm

        Lauryn Hill also has a killer afro.

      • Matcha November 4, 2011, 2:11 pm

        I was thinking Janelle Monae pre-pompadour. That woman has the best skin.

  • Carolynasaurus November 4, 2011, 10:00 am

    I want to clarify a piece of her advice that I think is very important to clarify to a 14 year old: focus on bettering yourself in the ways YOU want. In high school, it’s so easy to just mimic everyone else in an effort to fit in. You need to develop your sense of style, embracing your traits rather than hiding them to feel you look like everyone else. Clones don’t get noticed, individuals do.

    Also, when I was your age (wow, that makes me sound old) I had a friend who ALWAYS had the hottest guy in school as her boyfriend. I never understood it because, just from looking at her, she wasn’t shockingly gorgeous or considered one of the popular girls. But she wasn’t afraid to talk to these guys like the rest of us were and they flocked to her. Just remember that this guy isn’t any better than you. Just because he’s older doesn’t mean he somehow has more value than you. Treat him like you’re already friends and odds are he’ll think you are.

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  • bittergaymark November 4, 2011, 10:31 am

    Nothing. Do nothing about this crush of yours… Why? He is too old for you. Seriously, 14 year old girls should NOT be dating 17 or 18 year olds boys. Focus on school, and meeting somebody a little closer to your age. The other advice about feeling better about yourself and everything is excellent. But the fact that so many of you are telling her to go for is kinda alarming. I mean, too many 17 and 18 year old guys seduce 14 years with the worst of intentions… Often trading on vulnerable girl’s feelings to get what they want (and trust me, it is not a loving, caring relationship…) Call me cynical, but isn’t this especially jock types? Hey, I know it was was at my high school.

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    • GatorGirl November 4, 2011, 11:13 am

      Wow, I didn’t even realize the age difference. The 3 or 4 year gap is reason enough to avoid this guy! Hello statutory rape! (If it ever got that far- I’m clearly not advocating for the LW to sleep with this dude)

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    • plasticepoxy November 4, 2011, 11:52 am

      I’m glad you pointed this out Mark. So many girls forget that older boys (while “more mature” than boys their own age) may have less-than-positive intentions in pursuing a girl that much younger than themselves. At her age, a 3-4 year age difference is HUGE.

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    • bittergaymark November 4, 2011, 12:41 pm

      PS — Sorry for all the typos. I was in a mad rush out the door (late to a meeting) and so I zipped off that entire post WAYYYY too fast. So many missing words… Tragic!

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    • AKchic November 4, 2011, 12:48 pm

      Thank you BGM! I was scrolling down, looking for someone to point this out and you seem to be the first one to do so.

      As insecure as this girl appears to be, I don’t think that she should be attempting to get with her crush at all. She may do things she wouldn’t normally do with another boyfriend in order to keep him, which could lead to devastating results (a teen pregnancy without the dubious benefit of a reality show contract *gasp* ).

      I’m all for teaching someone how to boost their confidence, but let’s be honest, this girl needs a little bit of reality. She needs to find out who this guy is. What grade, his name, his age, and then decide on if it’s safe to pursue. If he’s 17, then it’s not safe for HIM for her to attempt to pursue. If he’s 15 and just big for his age, then sure – by all means, introduce yourself.
      Maybe to help with confidence building – join the drama club/class? I loved it in jr. high, and the 3/4 year I had of high school before I dropped out (got my GED early rather than schlep through 4 years).

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      • bittergaymark November 4, 2011, 12:58 pm

        Yeah, I was astounded nobody else had pointed it out — hence my mad dash to say it ASAP and the reason that my post was my most illiterate sounding one yet due to all the omitted words. But yes, this girl’s lack of self esteem makes her the perfect target of some jock looking for nothing more than another notch in his belt… Hah, here it flips, and so I must do the male bashing… πŸ˜‰

      • parton_doll November 4, 2011, 2:03 pm

        You didn’t sound illiterate BGM. Just concerned πŸ™‚ And thank you SO much for bringing this up.

        LW … no one is saying that this boy’s intention is to take advantage of you, but it is a very real possibility that he could and you need to take care of yourself. To add to what BGM is saying (although not much needs to be added) and others, for right now just work on feeling better about yourself. That way you will be in a better place to make sound assessments about the guys you are interested in. So maybe just admire this guy from afar and I am sure that I guy more suited to you at your stage in life will pop up when the time is right πŸ™‚

        PS … Look in the mirror everyday and honestly tell yourself one thing you like about your appearance. As a miniature black woman with a super high IQ, freckles, and a love of Dolly Parton … trust me, this cheesy little exercise helped me so much in high school. Sending positive energy your way!

      • Taylor November 4, 2011, 3:31 pm

        Parton_doll, you sound awesome. I totally have a girl-crush on you!

    • mcminnem November 4, 2011, 1:07 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out. I always forget just how young highschool freshmen really are…I was ready to say go for it, but I was thinking of my own environment. A university freshman at 18 or 19 getting together with a senior at 21-22 is totally normal, while a 14 year old highschool freshman and an 18 year old upperclassman just isn’t safe. I was a senior the year my brother started high school, and I would not have wanted him going out with the chicks I knew.

      Try to stick with guys closer to your age, LW. There’ll be less pressure, and you’re likely so get a better relationship out of it anyway.

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    • summerkitten26 November 4, 2011, 2:07 pm

      oh. thank you for pointing this out. I feel like a creeper now πŸ™ i stick by all the other advice, but yeaaaaah.

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    • theattack November 4, 2011, 2:36 pm

      It really depends on the guy here. When I started off in high school, I dated people my age and got into so much trouble with them. They were really immature, and I ended up smoking weed behind the school and failing algebra.

      By the second semester of high school, I started hanging out with older kids, and I exclusively dated seniors. Then when those seniors went to college, we still dated. After that, I was a straight A student teaching herself entire math courses so she could skip them in order to take AP Calculus. Big difference. But, it depends on the guys and what they’re into. I was more interested in showing them how smart I was. With most situations they’re probably more interested in seeing sluttiness.

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      • DudeInChicago November 4, 2011, 4:39 pm

        You’re an outlier in wanting to prove yourself to older boys by working on your smartness in AP Calc.
        I guarantee you that.

      • theattack November 4, 2011, 4:57 pm

        Not really. There’s a large section of the high school population that functions this way. It’s just not the segment that you generally see in teen movies.

    • DudeInChicago November 4, 2011, 4:35 pm

      Make basher!

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      • DudeInChicago November 4, 2011, 4:40 pm


    • SimonTheGrey November 4, 2011, 9:21 pm

      I was going to say something like this, but you said it much better! Thank you! THIS ALL THE WAY.

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  • Amanda November 4, 2011, 10:35 am

    I was horribly bullied in school about my skin as well (granted, it’s because I have psoriasis) so I have an idea what it’s like to be made fun of over the absolute, one thing you cannot change.

    Yes, a cool outfit will help. But so will figuring out how to shut the teasing down. Do whatever works for you. For me, it was laughing at myself first because it took their power away. There’s nothing to tease if you’re already laughing. It doesn’t sound like this will work in your case (or, maybe it will I don’t know what they’re saying). What I’m trying to say is – the people who are teasing you want a reaction. A *negative* reaction. Do whatever it takes but don’t react that way in front of them. Hold it together until you can get somewhere where you can react, if that’s how you have to deal. It’s going to be tough, it will. But once they realize that they aren’t getting to you how they want…it’ll stop.

    And, no, I’m not suggesting you hold in emotions because that can screw you up in a big, big hurry.

    As for your crush, if you decide to go for it and he makes fun of you? Pfft. He’s a jerk. Any guy who makes fun of a girl to her face who just complimented the bejesus out of him is not worth it. Cry about it to your friends and family. Get up the next morning and find another cute guy to have a crush on.

    And realize that the people teasing you sooooo aren’t worth your time.

    Especially the cute ones.

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  • kf November 4, 2011, 11:22 am

    With apologies to Dan Savage, IT GETS BETTER. Freshman year of high school…just ugh. Dear Prudence ran a letter a week or two ago about a girl who was a high school freshman, and it broke my heart. Do what everyone else is saying (other than askign the guy out – I agree with Mark on that) and hang in there.

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  • CG November 4, 2011, 10:46 am

    Girl, you should ROCK that fro and know that you are one bad bitch, and if he blows you off and makes fun of you, he’s an a-hole who didn’t deserve you anyway! (I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s true!)

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    • kf November 4, 2011, 11:08 am

      Really? This is the way we’re talking to 14 year olds?

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      • Matcha November 4, 2011, 11:16 am

        You don’t think 14-year-olds talk this way to each other? πŸ˜› The things I’ve heard from the mouths of babes…

      • kf November 4, 2011, 11:24 am

        Some do, some don’t. As an adult I would never talk that way to *any* 14 year old, let alone a complete stranger.

      • CG November 4, 2011, 11:45 am

        Wow, I didn’t realize that 14-year-olds are delicate flowers who must be shielded from the horrors of words like “bitch” and “a-hole,” especially since Wendy used “cunt” in a column a while back. *eye roll*

      • kf November 4, 2011, 12:42 pm

        You don’t seem much older than 14 yourself, so I withdraw the objection. Carry on with your super-cool ways.

      • CG November 4, 2011, 12:51 pm

        Oooooooh burn! How will I carry on?

      • kf November 4, 2011, 2:15 pm

        To be honest, it was half snark and half truth. For all I know you really could be a 16 or 17 year old girl, in which case your posts are totally understandable. If I walked up to a 14 year old girl on the street and called her a bitch, there’s a fair chance I’d spend the night in jail. So, it was a bit unfair for me to filter everything through my own perspective.

      • CG November 4, 2011, 2:18 pm

        If I called someone a bitch I would totally expect to get my ass handed to me! πŸ™‚ I was just trying to say she’s a total badass (maybe that’s a better way of putting it?) and if the guy makes fun of her he’s not worthy anyway.

      • kf November 4, 2011, 3:04 pm

        Hey, I don’t disagree with any of this, or even the substance of your original comment. “Badass” I would have let slide ;). “Bitch” is just a really ugly term to me, and it rubs me the wrong way to see it used even as an intended compliment. I think we’re good now.

      • redessa November 4, 2011, 11:51 am

        I have a 14 yr old and she doesn’t talk like that. In fact, I overheard a conversation between her and her brother a few days ago (they’re both in jr high) saying how much the language they hear at school bothers them.

        So yeah, they hear it, but they don’t like it or participate in it. And I believe the friends they’ve chosen feel the same. Even if that’s not the case with this LW (and we don’t know, she certainly said nothing vulgar in her letter), I don’t personally think it’s appropriate for an adult to open a dialogue like that with a child.

      • bittergaymark November 4, 2011, 12:48 pm

        Sigh…I do long for the days when everybody tried to sound intelligent and cultured as opposed to all gangsta and ghetto. Is’ so dang dope, yo, to be from da street, b’ytches! ‘Specialy if yous up in Springfield, Ohio…

        Ugh. Just lame…It’s all very trashy. Our society truly is in decline and that is sad.

      • MJ November 4, 2011, 2:21 pm

        Your longing to return to the “good old days” makes me laugh (cynically) BGM. Mostly because there were no “good old days”…sure people may have spoken more “correctly” or used proper grammar (although I’m doubtful that they did in casual conversations), but women were treated little better than property, black people were afraid to stop in certain towns after dark, and gay people, well, I’m sure you know about what went on there.

        So, yeah, give me 2011 any day.

      • bittergaymark November 4, 2011, 4:53 pm

        Actually, to me the good old days were 1985… So blacks and women were doing a-okay. Gays were fucked in 1985 in every way possible… but that’s another thread. Still, it’s sad to me how our society is so classless and base. When Dim Kartrashian is a role model, you know the world is beyond FUCKED. Everybody sounds so fucking ignorant in the media is mindblowing.

      • theattack November 4, 2011, 2:42 pm

        Really? Who cares? People on DW are not her mentors or her guidance counselors or her parents. She knows this languages exists in the world. She hears it every day. She is old enough to make an informed decision about whether or not she wants to repeat it. If it really bothers someone, they should still have the ability to filter through it, get the message, and move on. Disliking certain kinds of language is fine, but you have to get over it, because most people use it.

        I read the original comment as trying to get to the LW’s level. If she doesn’t like the language, she won’t use it herself. End of conversation, right?

      • Britannia November 4, 2011, 2:59 pm

        I don’t know, I think that the “trying to get on her level” is silly. Treat her with respect, as opposed to trying to be “the cool adult”, and I’m pretty sure that’ll be better for her.

      • kf November 4, 2011, 3:11 pm

        What exactly do you think the people on DW are? Her close personal friends?

        I think redessa’s post is a really useful reminder that not every teenager talks like this. There’s no indication that LW does, or that that talk gets to her “level”. Maybe she hears that talk every day, from people she doesn’t really respect. To assume that swearing gets to her level is just condescending as all…….heck.

      • theattack November 4, 2011, 4:58 pm

        Like I said, the LW doesn’t necessarily speak that way. I just don’t see any reason to jump all over the original poster here when her intentions were most likely good.

      • kf November 4, 2011, 7:36 pm

        Huh? Redessa didn’t come within 500 miles of jumping all over the original poster. And her intentions were impeccable! Are differing opinions really that threatening to you?

      • theattack November 4, 2011, 8:10 pm

        I’m not picking on redessa. There are several people who got onto CG for her comment. In fact, you were the first one to bring it up. I actually respect redessa’s comment because she stated her opinion without being mean about it. In all of these comments, you are the one that has jumped all over the original commenter.

        And I see no reason why you would throw a personal insult at me for expressing my opinion here just like everyone else. Your last sentence here is unnecessary, and it’s a perfect example of how you have been going beyond “differing opinions” and sticking your toes into the river of rudeness. I’m not trying to start anything with you here. It’s just something to think about.

      • kf November 5, 2011, 3:30 pm

        When you post a reply to redessa, and open it with “Really? Who cares?”, some unenlightened folks might get the impression that you’re responding to redessa, and that you don’t entirely approve of her post, and that the tone of a post is something you’re mostly concerned about when it’s somebody else doing the posting.

        Just something to think about.

      • theattack November 5, 2011, 3:45 pm

        Fair enough. I’m pretty lazy about scrolling up and figuring out where to stick a reply when really the entire conversation is about the same thing anyway.

      • AKchic November 4, 2011, 12:50 pm

        *snort* You don’t even want to know what I was doing or saying at 14. It makes hardened criminals blush furiously.

  • FireStar November 4, 2011, 12:01 pm

    What’s up with your school? Beauty comes in all shades and has all different hair styles to match. Google can show you that in under one second. Your classmates may confuse different with ugly but really that is a comment on their intelligence and not your looks. And while looking your best is always good, Callie is right – the most attractive thing men admire in women is confidence. So go about your life and find the things you excel in. The boys will come after that. As for your crush – why do you like him? Is he kind? smart? funny? do you even know? or is he a cute football player? If all he is is a cute foot ball player you’ve never spoken to then admire him from afar. Nothing wrong with that! If he is more than that and your interests or classes overlap then build a friendship with him and then you can decide if it is worth your time to pursue anything else with him. As an aside, there was a boy that had a crush on me in high school but he started out just being friends with me…and I ended up marrying him a couple of years ago.

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  • plasticepoxy November 4, 2011, 12:12 pm

    TLDR: They’re looking for your attention, ignore them and focus on yourself. Don’t pursue the older boy.

    My take:
    I was teased a lot in high school. The teasers were mostly upperclassmen (not just the boys). I was teased not necessarily for my appearance, the kids in my school were indiscriminate about what they chose to use as a “fault”. Sometimes I was teased about my clothes, my hair, the way I walked, etc. One day my best friend and I were supposedly seen making out in the student center which was off limits to underclassmen. She and I were very confused and of course, our denials just made the teasing that much worse. We even tried agreeing with them to get them to stop (Surprise! Didn’t work).

    It’s been my experience that boys related to girls they are attracted to through teasing/mocking, all the way from elementary school through high school/college. Some of them just don’t know any other way to relate to the opposite sex, and teasing gets them the attention they’re looking for.

    In my situation, some of the upperclassmen probably had crushes on my friend, who was pretty developed for a freshman; I think I was included in the teasing because we were the only freshman in honors classes made up of mostly upperclassmen. She disagrees and has said they were teasing because they liked me. Either way, most teasing wasn’t intended to hurt us (although it did); it was actually inept flirting.

    These boys are still learning too. That doesn’t mean they should get away with being hurtful; please don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself in whatever way is comfortable for you (telling them to grow up/knock it off, telling a trusted adult and asking them to intercede for you, finding different areas to hang out that aren’t around these guys).

    If the teasing is outright mean, then these kids are bullies and should be treated as such. It may not be right, but I found that it was easier to ignore, or sometimes avoid the actual bullies in my high school rather than engage them. I was lucky that ignoring them didn’t lead to an escalation in bullying, sometimes that can happen.

    My advice would be to enjoy the feelings of the crush, but not to act on it; learn what traits you appreciate in the opposite sex and pay attention to those traits you don’t find attractive. Being attentive to yourself now will give you the confidence to make wise choices for yourself in the future.

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  • MsMisery November 4, 2011, 1:03 pm

    Aww. I have no advice beyond keep rockin’ that Afro. And I want to hug you.

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  • cporoski November 4, 2011, 2:04 pm

    OK, so everyone is talking about your self esteem and not your crush. Here is how your should approach this. First, are you friends with any of his friends or do you have any reason to speak to him? clubs, organizations? If you have an in then set up a way to talk to him casually. start with hi and get him to know who you are. If he is in Key Club then join, if your friend dates his friend then wind up at the mall on the same day. Try to keep things small so that he doesn’t feel like he needs to perform in front of his friends. If there is no way to do this, then you shouldn’t pursue him. I was a girl with alot of boyfriends and was definately more popular than most. The worst thing you could do is confess your feelings and find out he doesn’t know who you are.

    If you do get an in then laugh at his jokes and smile. Guys love a girl who thinks he is funny. Also, it is more important to be interested then interesting. So ask questions and get him talking so you don’t have to worry what to say. Then say something like “we should do this again sometime” and drop it. If he likes you, he will follow up.

    Good luck!

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    • 6napkinburger November 4, 2011, 2:20 pm

      Sorry; but I totally disagree. “Following” him (joining the club he does, being at the mall when she knows he is going to) will only fuel the teasing; they will say she’s “stalking” him (even though she clearly isn’t, with any useful definition of the word) and he will probably think so too.

      I have to agree with a lot of the other people; crushes on upperclassemen are fun and make you swoon, but there are not worth pursuing, especially not actively. Best case: he likes you and you start dating, and he’s the kind of guy who won’t pressure you into doing anything, and you don’t feel like doing anything for a good 2-4 more years. (I’m sorry, but I just don’t think 14 year olds SHOULD be having sex. Teach them about condoms and BC in case they ARE, but I just think there is no reason for 14 year olds to be having sex.) Any other case: he likes you and expects sex which you either capitulate too before you’re ready or you don’t and he dumps you, he doesn’t like you and heartbreak and possible public riducule follow.

      The fact that upperclassmen know who she is and are talking about her means she isn’t below the radar. Which means this guy probably knows who she is. She should be confident in who she is, nice to everyone, talk to guidance counselors if it is honest-to-goodness bullying, develop hobbies and interests, and if he likes her and asks her out, yay! proceed with caution but good work. But if not, then just swoon and giggle with your friends.

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      • cporoski November 4, 2011, 5:29 pm

        See, I feel like I put a huge but in there by saying does she know him or is he a love from afar thing. I think I am reading this letter differently then everyone else. Which might make me different or it might make me wrong. I haven’t decided.

        I read this as she has had some things pointed out to her and now she is insecure. She is lumping all upperclassmen together. I think there are alot of generalizations about geeks and football players and whatever. She might be in very similar social circles to this guy and might not. Everyone is assuming she is not. If you remember high school, people walk around in packs of 20. I think if she knows people that know people, then hang out. If she doesn’t then don’t pursue it. But if she joins a bunch of clubs then that can only do good things for her.

        But, you are right, don’t be a creeper.

  • lk November 4, 2011, 2:05 pm

    I used to get teased all the time…actually now that I think about it, I still get teased all the time. I’m a little….I don’t know. Odd. But what people say to me really doesn’t perturb me, though I know it used to.

    When someone comes at me with, “Hey, nice leprechaun shoes!” or whatever (seriously, guys? I’m at work. why are you talking about my shoes? but anywayz….) I just smile really big, laugh if it’s funny & then give them a little gentle tease or – better – give them a compliment or just mention the weather, carry on with my business, & walk away. *Occasionally someone will cross a line* – I’d get this way if someone commented on my skin color! – & I’ll just look at them, raise my eyebrows a little & act like I didn’t hear them or laugh, or say, “Oh, I’m so glad it’s snowing! / I’m so excited that they got a new brand of coffee!” – ANYTHING to just be positive & smile.

    & having a crush is the best way to make going to school fun. Agree with BitterGayMark & others that he is too old for you, so just use him as the excuse in your life to spend a little extra time putting together a cute outfit & fully enjoy the butterflies : )

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  • Painted_lady November 4, 2011, 2:08 pm

    Oh, girl, I was an incredibly awkward high school freshman, and also, I spends good part of each day with high school kids, so trust me when I say you’re not alone. Not at all.

    First issue: the bullying. Callie’s totally right about these people being miserable. There’s a huge part of bullying that thrives on shaming you into thinking this is your fault because there is something wrong with you, which then ensures your silence. Don’t let it happen. Do you see any of these people away from their little cliques? If so, as calmly as possible, tell them how sorry you are that they’re unhappy, but that the only purpose for their comments is to humiliate you, and it makes it obvious to everyone else that they’re unhappy. Then tell them you won’t accept it anymore. Then tell a teacher you trust what’s happening. Most states require by law they give you resources to handle this, and any teacher worth their job will do something. I let three kids eat lunch in my room last year so they could avoid the bullies who were tormenting them.

    Secondly, get involved in an activity you enjoy. I recommend something like art or theatre or music because you tend to find a higher concentration of kids who don’t care about your social status – they just want to perform and create to the best of their abilities, and if you’re with them on that, then they want you around. It also makes you more interesting to talk to; my junior and senior years of high school, I found friends from every social circle and every grade who wanted to hear about the work we did in theatre, and in turn I wanted to know what they did in football/drill team/swimming/student council because it was interesting to know. Which leads me to…

    This guy. Hopefully he’s not one of the bullies. If so, trust me, you don’t want him. If not, what do you know about him? What makes you like him? Is he nice? Does he make you laugh? Have you ever spoken with him? If not, figure out a way to strike up a conversation. Get in the lunch line behind him. Ask him and his buddies – as long as they aren’t the bullies as well – what position they play. If you know nothing about football, ask him to explain. If he’s easy to talk to, keep going and chat with him for a few days. Give him a compliment like, “I had this idea that all football players were jerks, but you seem pretty cool. Thanks for changing my opinion.” If he doesn’t seem weirder out by it – and no decent guy should – then keep up the chatter for another few days. If he doesn’t get the hint, maybe let it go, but as a football player, he will at the very least have some sway over these other awful kids who are bullying you.

    I don’t know if you should ask him out; people are saying he’s too old, but if he’s a sophomore or a junior, it’s not as big an age gap. Just because he’s a football player doesn’t automatically make him a jerk – one of my students is in a wheelchair and needs help doing a lot of things, and her self-assigned helper is a football player who’s one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met. At the same time, one of the biggest bullies in my high school was our star quarterback, and I wouldn’t have trusted that guy alone in a room with anyone under 200 lbs. Use your judgment as best you can here. Does he make you feel safe? What’s his track record? How does he treat other people? One of my biggest crushes in high school was a really popular guy a year ahead of me who captured my little high school heart when my gay best friend flirted with him. Rather than get all goobed out, this guy laughed it off – kindly – and said he was flattered, and also that I was way more his type (swoon!). The way he treats those lower on the social ladder is a huge indicator of character, and don’t go near him if he makes you uncomfortable in any way. My boyfriend freshman year of high school was a senior, and he was a perfect gentleman, so as long as you are careful, honest with yourself, and smart about the situations you’re in, you shouldn’t write him off just because he’s older than you.

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    • L November 4, 2011, 4:24 pm

      Love this. I had some similar thoughts and was going to post said thoughts, but you beat me to it! πŸ™‚

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    • katie November 5, 2011, 1:43 pm

      Perfection, bestie, perfection….

      Lw, I was made fun of in junior high so badly. Not for any particular reason, they just all would say so many mean things to me. All I want to say is that you will find people (and boys!!) That you will click with sometime. Maybe in high school, maybe in college, whatever. Not everyone is terrible and there are good and real friends out there.

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  • 6napkinburger November 4, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Most ethnicities have particular features that are specific to that group. Some are considered “positive” by “society” and some are considered “negative.” (Whether or not we should give in to that societal pressure is a different story.) Some characteristics can be positive but require acquiring special skills.

    I had unruly jewish hair in middle school. It’s very common among those with an ashkenazi heritage. It is almost black, and very thick. I didn’t have curly, mine was only wavy, so I didn’t even get that perk. Boys who have this hair can get a jew-fro. Learning to manage this hair is the difference between looking like a frizzball and getting to have pantene pro-v model hair. It takes trial and error. It takes lots of products, it takes time and it takes money. Some people hate it altogether and get it japanese straightened, or now brazilian keratin treatments, to make it straight. Some people hate the color and dye it. But others (like me!) learn work WITH the hair.

    My point is, I totally agree that she should rock the natural hair look if she wants to. yay afros! (and yay Astrid!). I mean, you can barely watch a commercial break without some beautiful african american woman rocking natural hair, walking around in super stylish clothes, day dreaming about yogurt, or birth control, or cars, or marshalls, or how she can save 15% on her car insurance.

    But when I was 14, I had not yet mastered my hair and it was not pretty. There’s a pretty good chance that this LW has a little bit to learn about making it as beautiful as it can be.

    So Learn! Watch Youtube videos on proper styling techniques (I learned to do a french-twist that way!). Make sure that you are using the best products to “tame” your hair (mine needs to be tamed at least twice a day) and that you are using them correctly. While I know NOTHING about afros, I imagine that certain haircuts enhance the look while others detract (much like certain haircuts make curly hair look amazing and some turn you into a troll doll); make sure you get the right haircut. Talk to your mom about it (assuming she is the same race as you) or some other person whose hair you love and are emulating about how to do it right.

    If they are making fun of your skin color or the fact that you have an afro, these people are to be pitied. But if you are going to shove your afro in their face (as you should metaphorically do), make it a super well-coifed one!

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    • Budj November 4, 2011, 3:10 pm

      Agreed 100%.

      I have unruly hair as well – not fro unruly – wavy hair that likes to loose cork screw only when it isn’t too humid otherwise it just becomes a tangled mess and due to years of swimming and shaving my head once a year I never got to grow it out until these past couple years.

      It does take a lot of trial and error, but you will get it figured out. As a guy it would look really foolish if I straightened my hair so I had to learn to work with it…I have since cut the mangey hair (due to paranoia at work) into a “Bradley Cooper” type do as my hair stylist likes to call it, but the points still stand…(I’ll grow my hair out again if I can ever quit my corporate job).

      Redken Smoothdown is a great product, imo. It really helped keep my hair a little more manageable. Also try a lot of different leave-in conditioners (specifically macadamia oil and olive oil) – they do wonders on curly / wavy hair. One I use often is Fekkai’s glossing cream.

      Without knowing your actual hair type it is hard to give critiques, but a website I have found helpful that might help you with your hair is naturallycurly.com

      Wow I know waaaay too much about hair.

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      • 6napkinburger November 4, 2011, 3:20 pm

        In my old age, my hair has totally changed consistencies, and I’ve managed to stay ahead of it. It’s about medium thickness now, with only a hint of wave. (naturallycurly.com would be lost on me, though I have a feeling you were talking to the LW), and it can’t hold a curl from a curling iron (though it can from blowdrying, which I find mindboggling).

        I go through phases of shampoos; this month is “Brazilian Blowout” Shampoo, and Acai Mask, which I crazily recommend. Kerastase was by far my favorite, but while I can justify 20 bucks a bottle to myself, 40 bucks a bottle is a harder sell. I also recommend Coppola Keratin Complex Infusion (I hate their shampoo and condition, but the “infusion” is just adding back keratin to your hair and it can keep it “healthy” long past a haircut that is due, plus it smells like coconut.) [I did the Brazilian Blowout treatment last year(not the Brazilian Keratin) which I also loved,as it just made my hair pretty, but kept the volume, but its expensive and annoying. I found using the Acai Mask about twice a week with the keratin complex basically did the equivalent).

        Though now I’ve found 7 grey hairs. Its going to be time to start playing with color soon. Stupid premature greying.

      • Budj November 4, 2011, 3:28 pm

        Yes, sorry, should have been more clear that that was phrased to the Lw, haha.

        Fortunately, my “gray hairs” are only turning a light blonde so my hair is getting a tri-color look…hopefully it stays that way till I’m passed 30 πŸ˜›

    • silver_dragon_girl November 4, 2011, 4:47 pm

      OMG, 14-17 are the WORST years for hair, I swear. Mine is curly. Really frizzy and wavy, and it corkscrews up if I keep it short, but back then I was wearing it long and fighting the curl tooth and nail. I always tried straightening and growing it out longer and longer, and it only turned frizzy and damaged. Then I tried dying it various shades of red and lighter brown. *shudder*
      It’s much better now that I’ve stopped fighting it. But yeah, I agree, at age 14, the LW probably hasn’t really perfected her hairstyle yet, and I understand how that can be a source of great insecurity and frustration.

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      • Budj November 4, 2011, 4:59 pm

        Heating and coloring might have added to the frizz!

      • 6napkinburger November 4, 2011, 5:04 pm

        Deva something, in NYC, is supposed to be AMAZING for girls with curly hair. I know several people who went there and came out having great hair that they could re-create on their own (one latina, one cubano-egyptian hybrid and one jewish girl). Not sure if they cater to african american hair though. Though I would think so, assuming we’re talking about african-american curly hair.

    • Christy November 4, 2011, 10:52 pm

      I agree with the learning to tame your hair part. A big thing about being a teenager is learning to feel comfortable in your body, and trying to find ways to make yourself *feel* beautiful is important. It’s giving into society a little but the ultimate goal is to like what you see in the mirror, and then the confidence you feel will shine through to everyone.

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  • Slamy November 4, 2011, 1:46 pm

    This doesn’t have a lot to do with your question, but I remember my days as an incredibly awkward 14-year-old. It sometimes sucked. I didn’t feel pretty or cute, and my hair was lame, and boys didn’t like me back because I wasn’t going to put out for them, and my clothes weren’t cool enough, etc. I got called ugly and a nerd, among other rude names.

    That was (almost) ten years ago. Those people who say high school is the time of your life? THEY ARE LYING! The pretty popular girls from my high school have nothing on me now. I spent my formative years cultivating a personality and a personal style and building self-confidence. (By the way, I think I look awesome. Awkward teenagers often translate into gorgeous adults). The girls from high school who the boys fawned over didn’t have to do that, and it totally shows. “It gets better” isn’t just for gay teens. It’s for all teens who have a hard time. It totally gets better. I promise you. Life is still hard. Being an adult is hard. But I would NEVER go back to high school for anything.

    By the way, afros are freakin’ gorgeous. I love a pretty afro on a woman.

    PS: I had lots of crushes in high school. I ran into one of them recently and MAN am I glad I didn’t marry that guy!!!!

    I want to share something I read somewhere on the internet: “You know those nerds you made fun of in school? They ultimately win. It starts the day you graduate, and ends the day you die.”

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    • Slamy November 4, 2011, 1:48 pm

      where’d my avatar go ;_;

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      • lk November 4, 2011, 2:08 pm

        ohhh cute crying face! thanks! that just made my day

  • Slamy November 4, 2011, 1:49 pm


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  • Jess November 4, 2011, 3:30 pm

    at 14 you should be obsessing over your crushes (even better, celebrity/fictional crushes) and NOT talking to them. the reason you feel so shy/awkward and panicky at the thought of talking to this guy is that you are too young for that kind of thing!! obsessing about your crush with your girlfriends/creating code names for them/listening to justin bieber and watching movies and developing huge crushes on the characters is what you should be doing at your age. Befriend some guys you aren’t romantically interested in. Spend your time on friends and hobbies.

    Later, in a few years, when you’re 16 or 17, you can talk to boys (that you have crushes on). And you probably will find that you aren’t so shy/awkward then, because you are more mature and its just a better time in your life for that.

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  • L November 4, 2011, 4:42 pm

    I had many MANY crushes in high school. Just ask my best friend. She heard EVERYTHING. There were athletes, artists, guys who owned big trucks…and everything in between. *le sigh*

    It’s fun to dream. It’s fun to watch from afar. But in reality, in my situation I would have NOT had very good relationship with those that I was crushing on who I had NOTHING IN COMMON WITH. There were those hot guys who I just liked checking out in the hallways. There were those guys who I just really liked flirting with because they would shamelessly flirt back (I had nothing in common with them though). Or there was the nice, smart, quiet, tall and handsome runner who was my lab partner in physics class (let me tell you he was dreaaaaammmmyyy). The same remains true for you, dear LW. If you don’t have anything in common with this guy and he’s just some hot guy you’ve checked out from afar, keep it at a distance. If he’s a friend of a friend and you might have something in common with him, ask your friend to introduce you. Starting as friends (or at least hanging out and talking to them once in a while) is useful in a relationship because then you are able to hold conversations easier and it makes things more fun. πŸ™‚

    If you haven’t already, something you might want to consider doing is joining an extracurricular activity or two (or five, if you’re me…). Are you into sports? Find one to participate in! Do you like music? Join choir or band! Do you like to take pictures? Join the yearbook or newspaper staff! When I was in high school getting involved helped me to “find” myself as a high school student. It helped me to make a ton of good friends (some who I remain close to even today!) AND expand possibilities for future relationships.

    And my last piece of advice for your high school dating scene is to not rush things. Don’t think just because “everyone” has a girlfriend/boyfriend that you have to have one. Don’t think you need to “keep up” with everybody else. Take things at the pace that YOU are comfortable at and ENJOY your years in high school. πŸ™‚

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  • sobriquet November 4, 2011, 4:54 pm

    Upperclassman Crush, I want to give you a big e-Hug. High school can be SO CRUEL. When I was a freshman I had a gigantic crush on a guy in my algebra class (also a freshman). He was a little out of my league status-wise, but he sat next to me and flirted with me the entire semester. And then one day I heard him talking about me in class with his jerk friend, laughing and calling me ugly. I pretended not to hear them and was so embarrassed that I didn’t even tell my best friend about it. I just went home and cried. I was devastated. It’s one thing to be rejected, it’s another thing entirely to be insulted by someone you have a crush on. Luckily my high school class consisted of 700 people, so I didn’t have to face him after that semester.

    Fast forward to Junior year when I was a little prettier and more confident with myself. Dude stopped me in the hallway one day and started flirting with me. He asked me how I was doing, what I’d been up to, that I looked good, etc. It felt amazing blowing him off.

    I want to offer the advice to keep the crush to yourself unless you really think this guy is interested in you. While I was in high school, an upperclassman dating a freshman was really creepy. So, enjoy your crush, follow Callie’s advice and know that life gets soooooo much better after high school.

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  • The Letter Writer Herself, Ji Lan... November 5, 2011, 11:55 pm

    Hey y’all, it’s Upperclassman Crush…
    First off, I just want to thank you guys, the advice columnist included, for the amazing advice and concern. It really made me aware of myself and the situation, and I really appreciate the fact that you all are listening, especially at a time when I feel like no one else is.

    I decided not to pursue him. So many of you guys are right, there’s so much to be unknown about him, as well as the risks of dating an older guy. My mother would get so angry, and I would feel unlike myself, you know? I want to get to the point where I feel like myself again before I start worrying about boys.

    My time in high school has been getting better. It’s definitely not great in regards to my social life, but the situation has improved. The upperclassmen kids who were mocking me cooled down a bit. You know what’s funny about them? Two of them are twelfth graders and one is TWENTY (he got held back twice!). The kids in my grade, well… It got better in some ways, worse in others. The rude, derogative words stopped (they would call me things like “bitch”), but lately they’ve taken to throwing things at me. I had to go eat lunch in the bathroom the other day when a milk bottle went flying over my head. Yeah, not the most mature kids… But I’ll survive. I stopped hanging around the so-called “friends” who would laugh with the ones who called me “nappy” and “dark as the night” and I joined art club with my real friend. I decided to surround myself with only loving, positive people instead of the crowds of fake that had been around before.

    My mother’s friend did my hair a few weeks ago, she braided it into kinky twists. I really liked my afro, but I love the twists. They make me feel happy, especially since they’re protecting my hair from the wind and the cold. Hopefully I’ll get some length : )

    Sorry for rambling on and on, I just really really really want to thank Ms. Callie, Mrs. Wendy, and all the commenters out there for helping me out. Your words really affected me. Thank you so much.

    P.S. Congratulations Ms. Wendy on your baby! He’s adorable : )

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