Hello. I am a 15 year old girl. Since I was a little girl, I never really went outside. I always stayed at my home most of the time. I only had one friend with whom I would talk to most of the time. I was terrified of what people thought about me, and I still am. And because of that I avoid people, even my classmates. A humiliating incident happened today. After tuition, my tuition sir’s small girl who is about six years younger than me was playing with me. She then suddenly took a leap on the double-swing seat’s edge and was standing and swinging. I was worried she would accidentally fall and hurt herself. So, I went over and playfully hit her leg and told her she might fall. After that she did something which really humiliated me in front of my friends. She slapped me. I was speechless and I walked away. What’s worse is that I didn’t even tell her anything. What’s even more surprising is the fact that I didn’t even get angry. When I went home, I was only thinking what my peers would say about me after that embarrassing and humiliating incident. I still wasn’t angry on the girl.
Here’s the problem: #1 – I always, ALWAYS fail to stand up for myself. I always think the other person is always correct. Not me. I am really pathetic. #2 – I am always worried about what people might think about me. Because of that, I don’t even speak to any people except for my best friend. Even when I actually speak to people, I get really shaky and fail to form proper sentences. I can’t even think properly and because of that, I blabber out stupid stuff. (age 15, from Saudi Arabia)
I’m sorry that you are feeling humiliated by this experience. It may be that the girl slapped you because she did not take your behavior of hitting her on the leg as playful and she was striking back. In the future, it may be best to keep hands off and just let her know that you are worried that she might hurt herself. I’m not saying that what she did was ok or justified, but she may have just reacted without thinking, not realizing you were trying to help.
Nonetheless, even though you felt humiliated by the experience, I doubt it really caught that many people’s attention and even if it did, they will move on and forget about it. I’m more concerned that you feel so uncomfortable around others and yet care so much what they think of you. What really matters is how you feel about yourself. If you like yourself, others will like you too.
In order to build up your confidence socially, it may be important to slowly work on making new friends and specifically seek out those whom you have things in common with, be it school subjects, hobbies, or even just a similar sense of humor. You don’t have to have a lot of friends, just focus on having a few good ones. This will go a long way in helping you feel comfortable.
It may also be beneficial for you to speak with your school counselor, a therapist or perhaps even a trusted teacher or other respected adult. Getting an adult perspective at this difficult time of your life might help you make progress faster. Furthermore, you can do some reading on self-esteem and assertiveness. There are many good workbooks available, as well as some helpful online resources.
You began the process of sticking up for yourself by writing in and reaching out. Keep up the good work!
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts