The interviews Behind the Scenes of Office Politics & I am a Nerd and Proud of It were recommended to me in response to what I had written in my last blog post, and after listening to them I do as well highly recommend them to anyone who is experiencing difficulties (or not necessarily) in the school/work environment, in the “social aspect” of it. I came to realize many things about myself and my life after listening to these interviews, and I think that most, if not all of us will realize many things as well, because we spent most of our developmental years in school, and later on in the work environment (where many of the school dynamics repeat), so school has definitely had an effect on us at all levels! and in this case I looked at how the “classroom dynamics” has affected how I socialize with others and how I have defined myself.
When I was in primary school, I was very expressive. Since kindergarten I often had initiative and leadership in class, and I used to help my peers to understand what we were learning. I liked to make jokes in class and I often did stand up and spoke up when something wasn’t right, for example the time when one of my teachers yelled at my peer in a humiliating way, and I stood up and pointed out that it wasn’t correct to treat my peer like that, then i asked him to please excuse himself at her (btw, my teacher learned a lot from this and then thanked me to have done that). I was often the top or among the top students in my class in terms of grades, and always liked to help my peers. So, I came to define myself as intelligent, social, leader, mature, funny, social, extrovert, friendly, special, and even lovable – I now realize how these definitions that I gave to myself were based on the response that I received from my environment, from my peers, from my teachers, and from the institution.
Interestingly, a couple of years later, this definition changed to: stupid, not-cool, unconfident, immature, not-special/not-important, non-likable, introvert, not-able-to-fit-in/outcast, and loner! I moved to a totally different and new country, where I didn’t speak the language nor understood the culture, the connotations and the slang. I couldn’t identify to my peers, I felt “out of place” for many years, unable to fit in…and also, in part, unwilling to fit in and resistant to my environment. In the last 6 years of schooling, I have spent most of my lunch breaks and after-school time alone, without friends. And I used to be ashamed to share this, because I defined and judged myself as a loner, and as if being a “loner” was bad or something to be ashamed of, but I now begin to understand the reasons behind this, and after listening to these two interviews I realize that I have defined myself as a loner and antisocial person IN RELATION to my school environment, but in fact, I am neither a loner nor an antisocial person. In fact I have never been alone, as I always had friends and family, the difference was that they weren’t with me at school – and I also wasn’t antisocial, as I have always been social and open to talk to my peers, I just didn’t form any deep/special bond with any of them, and some factors contributed to this, in particular language.
I think that many young immigrants can relate to this, because I have seen it among some people I know who also immigrated in their early teens.