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The outsize influence of middle-school friends (theatlantic.com)
268 points by rainhacker 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 161 comments

My memories of childhood friends are utterly bittersweet. When I was ~9, I fell in with a group that played with WWII munitions that we found in the woods. A few years later, two of my younger friends were seriously injured. I was never overtly blamed, but I felt guilty.

And then, about a decade later, now in the US, I fell in with hippies, and got into dealing LSD. But then a couple friends got busted. So I dealt drugs to pay for their defense.

My point, I guess, is that I never really learned how to actually maintain friendships. I am capable of making friends, and doing what friends do for friends. But it always feels like I'm playing a role. Maybe that's why I've become an anonymous coward.

I wonder if you'd find this essay I wrote useful: https://alexpetralia.github.io/2018/04/02/NL-2018-04-02.html

I do very much believe it's a skill that takes effort and investment to develop over years (our entire lives really).

Thanks, that's insightful.

> My memories of childhood friends are utterly bittersweet. When I was ~9, I fell in with a group that played with WWII munitions that we found in the woods. A few years later, two of my younger friends were seriously injured. I was never overtly blamed, but I felt guilty.

Care to share more (as much as you feel comfortable)? That's a very unconventional childhood experience! Thanks!

Basically, quality control was iffy, so an appreciable percentage of munitions didn't work. Or were just lost and forgotten, in the heat of battle. Weapons too.

So it was quite the wonderland for kids who liked to blow stuff up, and play at war. But you had to know what stuff was relatively safe, and what was likely to go off, if you looked at it wrong. For example, you avoided anything that contained picric acid.

But hey, I lived through it. And it was great fun. Overall, it was arguably safer than making acetone peroxide, which I gather does go off, if you look at it wrong.

> But hey, I lived through it.

But would you tell us this story if you didn't?

Let’s get serious here, who would finish writing the story once he’s 6 feet underground and can’t get a cell signal?

IIRC this was (and still is!) pretty common in Europe after World War II.

Tangentially related to this article, but moving/uprooting children can have fairly large negative consequences that affect them the rest of their lives.

Here's one article [1] that found:

"Elevated risks were observed for all examined outcomes, with excess risk seen among those exposed to multiple versus single relocations in a year. Risks grew incrementally with increasing age of exposure to mobility"

Examined outcomes consisted of "attempted suicide, violent criminality, psychiatric illness, substance misuse, and natural and unnatural deaths."

There are many more studies if you search for them that show a range of affects including worse academic performance and one I found that included a higher rate of hospitalization in kids who moved (although the cause was unclear).

It's a traumatic event.

[1] - https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(16)30118-0/pdf

[2] - http://theconversation.com/moving-home-can-affect-your-child...

I would fall into the category of kids who did not do well with this. I was moved a double-digit number of times when I was in single digits of age. Eventually, my parents thought to take me to a psychologist to solve the puzzling issue of why I wasn't making friends. The notes I requested from the psychologist decades later included a line from me that went something to the effect of that I didn't get to enjoy having friends, I just got to miss them.

I absolutely missed some social developmental windows, somewhat like the kittens who, never exposed to horizontal lines during a critical point in the Blakemore and Cooper experiment, were unable to perceive them later on. Nothing I have been able to do in terms of reading, groups, exercises, and the like has been able to grant me the easy camaraderie that comes readily to others. Instead I am typically watchful and quiet, on the periphery of any group. Carnegie, Toastmasters, and all of the glad-handing can provide at best a kind of thin simulation that never takes root for me. I have faked it and been unable to make it, leaving me with a somewhat guilty fear that any charm I may have would be greasily like that of any garden variety psychopath.

Perhaps the most "positive" thing to come out of it would be near-schizoid levels of self-reliance and an ability to acquire local accents to better fit in.

Some kids get over it, some ... do not.

>something to the effect of that I didn't get to enjoy having friends, I just got to miss them.

>I am typically watchful and quiet, on the periphery of any group.

>I have faked it and been unable to make it

I know other people who moved several times as kids, and these are very common sentiments among them (and many other people as well, who didn't move).

I don't have much else to say, other than you're not alone and I hope you find peace with this.

> I don't have much else to say, other than you're not alone and I hope you find peace with this.

Thank you for saying it. The frequency with which I see positive expressions of humanity on HN is a big part of what makes this place special.

Why would you find peace with being stunted and missing out on major parts of life? To be blunt, it doesn't sound like something to be enthusiastic about.

Because the alternative is living your life in misery due to your past, constantly dwelling on something you can't change. People can overcome things to the best of their abilities, and it's normally good advice to at least try.

I think it would be interesting to note how many of you find this an objectionable mindset because of its self-destructiveness, compared to how many of you find it objectionable because you simply cannot stand to be reminded of the wretchedness this world is capable of.

It's the difference between volunteering at a soup kitchen, and recommending the installation of those anti-homeless spikes at your building entrance.

Some of us are stubborn enough that this is the answer. Curse the universe that afflicted me with this, and if I must suffer it, let others know, viscerally, how debilitating it is. Maybe I can be the horrible warning that sparks change.

I may be miserable, but it's misery with purpose.

Would being angry about it make anything better? Could it restore the missing parts, or go back in time and un-stunt a person?

Being at peace with something is not the same thing as being happy about it.

Part of life is shit. Don’t spend the the good parts of life bathing in it.

So what's the best response? Endless rage? Suicide?

life has a lot of parts, major is in the eye of the beholder

That idea of a critical period we're unaware even exists scares me. We know of several critical periods, like an infant with their eyes covered for the first two months of their life will never master binocular vision, a child born deaf can be given normal hearing with a cochlear implant if placed before or around age 2 with effectiveness falling off the later it is implanted, etc. What if there IS a critical period for learning how to develop deep and meaningful personal relationships? Everything about modern child life is designed to pervert and destroy any ability for a child to form such relationships. I have similar concerns about autonomy. Autonomy is a very strong need in all animals, so it would only make sense for this to be true of humans as well and we see plenty of indication of it throughout history and into modern times... but we continue to subject young people to almost total suspension of their autonomy during all of their formative years. What impact should we expect that to have on the kids later in life? The disturbing thing about critical periods is that even knowing you've missed one doesn't help, you just missed it and the most you can do is compensate.

Similar experience: a different elementary school for each grade. It's hard to exactly describe the impact it's had on me, but let's just say I have no problem letting go of friendships. I was an introvert all throughout school, making only a handful of friends.

Things finally changed for me in college, joining a campus youth group which functioned more like a spiritual fraternity. I was able to finally create life-long bonds with people. Weirdest of all was I actually became an extrovert!

Now I have very little problems making friends. Generally I can chat up strangers. I do have to work very hard to maintain friendships, but it's something I work very hard at.

Schooled in 6 different schools before 18. I’m functioning (easy to talk to people) but I lack trust. I always suppose they’ll let me down, and I accelerate the events because I’m tired of even arguing and I know it’s coming (I know I just don’t « belong » in any place, so I know in case my needs collide with someone else, they’ll choose someone else).

Coming back to Facebook, I can’t quit Fb or Youtube because they are my only friends. I have some, but they have girlfriends and kids. I just wanted to highlight that addiction usually come because there is a void, and getting rid of the addiction is not so simple. Same for those addicted to alcohol: Stopping alcohol is actually the easy part; Finding friend who don’t revolve around consumption is the harder step. I insist, I’m a functioning adult, actually founder with 2 employees, but I really don’t spin round.

That’s interesting. I switched ~4 times in the first 5 grades. I’ve never really considered whether it affected me much, but have been highly self aware that I don’t really care about letting go of people. I have a vivid memory of yearbook signing in high school, and just getting tired of it, and when people wanted me to write a personalized message, I just said... eh, and declined to do so.

I wouldn’t have thought this was disruptive, but I also recall manually learning how social behaviors work in 11-12th grade and had always assumed I was just a bit of an aspie

I went to 9 schools in 7 different states thousands of miles apart by the time I went to college, and I didn’t really value some of the things other kids did such as school “spirit” which I thought was stupid. Or rooting for “your” team, nor things like prom (parents were poor and still building themselves up so wasn’t about to ask them for funds to rent or buy clothes for a party) or yearbooks or graduation (didn’t even tell my parents about it, didn’t see why it was even worth celebrating since US high school is so easy). I know zero people from high school still.

I am fine conversing with people and making friends, I actually like to, and I think moving around a lot helped me learn the skills to size people up, but I am also evaluating how useful /enjoyable someone is to me so that I invest my time with the greatest return.

I also don’t care much for personal photos on work desk or other memorabilia and generally dwelling on the past. Just another data point. This is not to say that I don’t care about people, and I do like helping, but I don’t need to get all deep and emotional with anyone. Who knows if it has anything to do with me moving around as a kid.

I moved eight times before turning 18 and relate to most of what you describe. The lack of family pictures or memorabilia in your cubicle sticks out for some reason I can't articulate. I've never done that either and I don't understand why people do, like a pathologically tone deaf person who doesn't understand why people listen to music.

> I don’t really care about letting go of people.

This really does seem like a common thread among us who were uprooted and move around during elementary and middle school.

Having had the same rootless upbringing and these same kinds of feelings, I think the word that comes closest to describing what happened to us is dehumanization. Yes I can sever relationships very easily, and I will never truly miss them. I might think about them, but I will never make an effort to reach out or reestablish the relationship under any circumstance. Normal people suffer through these things and never sever. They also miss individuals who have left their life. Those are normal human feelings. We don’t have them. We can’t fake them. It’s tragic.

I would suggest looking into Pesso-Boyden Therapy, which deals with such "holes in roles" - the missing experiences at the right age with the right person - by creating synthetic memories. It's quite an intense thing when a person suddenly gets exactly the experience they were missing for years, just by giving people, in a therapeutic setting, roles to act out.

That sounds extremely icky, to say the least. "Synthetic memories"?

It does sound weird, and it was a thing I was cautious about when first reading about Pesso therapy. But the "synthetic memories" in no way replace your true memories just as someone who you ask to - in the therapeutic setting - take on the role of an "ideal parent" or "ideal partner" does not replace your real parent or partner. Instead, what you get is a real world experience of how the things could have played out differently, and this experience releases some tension that continued to influence your later interactions..

As an example - if a person was bullied in school, and has subsequently built up impenetrable walls in relationships, it could be helpful to re-enact an act of bullying in a safe setting. Only this time, the person is fully in control and can create an alternative ending - e.g. by letting an 'ideal friend' or an 'ideal parent' join in and stop the bullying. Now a synthetic memory is created - sure, it does not replace the old memory. But now you've got to experience that there are different outcomes possible, now you feel more protected.

The power of this method lies exactly in the experiencing. Before being exposed to this approach I thought my problems would go away, if only I could really really understand them. Now I see that experiences can be quite a bit more powerful than words and concepts. I can also see where all the rituals in human cultures are coming from.

Yeah but still - that is not a thing which actually happened. It is just systematic self-delusion, and an altogether pitiful approach. "I am not happy with the way things turned out so I will pretend they did in fact not turn out that way."

No no no, at no point does anyone claim that this is in any way a real memory. Your actual memories are part of you and need to be respected. They should not be repressed.

What is created is the knowledge that a different experience is possible. Not just textual knowledge, but lived knowledge. Examples of the correct behaviours that you may see in movies or read in books or even witness in your friends are still not your lived experiences. This approach changes it.

I only moved once, after my parents got divorced. I changed schools in 4th grade and didn't end up having any "best" (they weren't actually good to me) friends again until 8th grade. I remember almost nothing about middle school, especially 7th grade. This week in therapy I was asked if my parents ever played with me or took an interest in anything I was doing...I realized they didn't. I'm so used to be being alone that I never considered this and I think it sucks more than the lack of friends. My parents were so emotionally unavailable they didn't notice any problems, not even when I became severely depressed in high school. It took more than 8 years for me to finally have a breakdown, 8 years for my mom to finally realize I needed help.

I've been diagnosed with Schizoid Personality Disorder. It's uncomfortable knowing I fit in so well I'm basically invisible and when I'm not, it's more often that I'm being judged for having flat affect which I think is only exacerbated by being female. I don't know what emotions I'm not showing, I don't know any other way.

Thank you for writing this. I was the outsider kid who didn’t move on when all of his friends did. My friends were all military brats. Years later I reconnected with one and he didn’t even remember the two years between 8-10 we were inseparable. If there is a flip side, I have family members that can make friends with a brick wall and they are an open book to everyone they meet - charlatans included and they constantly wonder why they are being taken advantage of.

Had to make an account just to comment on this:

When I read your post it felt like you were describing me! You're certainly not alone in this. I've long thought that instability of this sort in your early years makes it more difficult to form lasting bonds with people, but on the flipside it also makes you so much more independent. So great to see someone mirror that thought! The psychopath thing has bothered me as long as I can remember - obviously I can't be one, as I do have compassion for others, but the outward behavior still feels like I'm "playing a role".

This resonates a lot with me. Were you bullied as well?

Perhaps the worst part of constantly being uprooted was that as the new kid in class you are a natural soft target for bullies.

It lead to the vicious cycle of: I'm new and afraid of my new peers, so I'm on my own most of the time, so I'm an easy target for bullies, so they go after me, so I become more withdrawn.

It was relentless and it has made me very anxious of social settings with new people. You eventually learn to fake it, but the emotional scarring remains.

It happened to me three times, once in middle school. The final time it happened to me was just before high school. I never quite felt like I managed to settle in to a group of friends in high school. It felt like I was "new" the whole time I was there. The trouble was that everyone else knew each other from middle and elementary school. I did start over with friends at my university but those people ended up being nowhere near me after we graduated. From what I can tell a lot of people never really left their friends from high school and kind of remain with these people through life but I don't really have any so I just have felt lacking for so long and wished I had that. But on the other hand I know it's not impossible to find new groups of friends.

I would definitely say the moves were very difficult. Leaving the old and the shock of not knowing anyone at a new school had a deep effect on me.

How do they rule out the correlation that families that move a lot might not be as stable in general?

In the part about limitations, the linked paper says

> Although several important confounders were adjusted for, the observed independent associations may nonetheless have been prone to residual confounding. This is because many salient adverse childhood experiences, including most instances of abuse and neglect, are not routinely registered. The underlying reasons for residential change, such as family dissolution, were also unknown. Furthermore, socio-economic trajectories among the cohort members beyond their 15th birthdays, which could have mediated the observed associations, were not examined. Selection of potential confounders was essentially restricted according to their availability, which is a common limitation of many studies conducted using administrative registers. An unknown degree of reverse causality bias may also have been present. Earlier unregistered problematic behaviors among older children and adolescents may have motivated some families to relocate to start afresh. However, it seems unlikely that these hidden biases could wholly explain the strong links observed between residential mobility in early/mid-adolescence and subsequent adverse outcomes. Finally, the findings may not apply universally beyond Denmark, although it seems likely that they are relevant to other western societies with similar drivers of residential mobility.

Shhh... let's just continue to self-diagnose traumatic childhoods when there are many potential confounding variables

I quickly skimmed some of your comment history. You are clearly capable of writing much more constructive comments than this. I encourage you to do so :)

It isn't a great look to snidely put down people who have experienced difficulty and are simply trying to understand themselves better.

It often surprises me when I hear about parents who are considering job-hopping and moving when they have children that are in the critical 11 - 15 age range. I had read ages ago, back in the late 90s I believe, that the chance of suicide skyrockets if an early adolescent is separated from their friend group. In my later reading and reflecting on my own experiences and whatnot I've come to believe that prior to the advent of agriculture, when most of humanity were nomadic hunter-gatherers (mostly gathering), when the single universally shared concept was of shared fatherhood, and when most children were raised in-common by the tribe, that friend group formed in early adolescence most likely functioned very much like your second family. First you get the tribe of adults, the family you're given, then you get to choose one and build it yourself. We spent the vast majority of human development at that stage, so it's a bit presumptive to think we can suppress it without significant consequence.

Anecdotally moving abroad in high school saved my social life. I was a shut-in and never adjusted in the US, but moving abroad gave me a fresh start and let me develop into the person I am today. I'm very appreciative for the opportunity and would never trade it for anything.

Guess I'm lucky?

For what it's worth, I moved several times during my childhood (my father was a diplomat, so it was to different countries, not just different states) and frankly I loved it.

As you say, each location is a new start, a break from earlier expectations, and a chance to reinvent yourself. I strongly feel the benefits outweighed any negatives.

I am friends with some folks who have lived in a single area their entire lives, and while they do have a feeling of 'roots' that I will never have, they also have a smaller worldview. Not their fault, in the sense that you can't expect someone who hasn't experienced something to understand it, but I'm glad I lived the life I did.

Not to diminish your experience, but I would infinitely have preferred moving abroad vs. bouncing around domestically. Doing so gives you a free pass in some ways, since it’s expected that there’ll be some element of friction for you as you adjust to the culture shift.

If you have friends who immigrated at a young age, I highly recommend talking to them about the experience of returning back to their birth countries (if they’ve done so). Especially for those who no longer speak the language, it’s often a reverse culture shock.

Hmmm, perhaps you don't even need uprooting: I spent many formative years in an American-run school overseas, which had high student turnover, perhaps in the realm of 10-30% per year.

Now I wonder what implicit lessons I may have taken away from being one of the few "old timers" as everybody else kept cycling through.

Returning to the US, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that some kids went to the same local schools their parents had.

Are you me?! Seriously though, I was in this exact same situation growing up and I can certainly relate to the other comments around not being great at maintaining long term friendships. Just another data point, but I do think there’s a similar effect in this sort of counter-scenario.

I wonder how the ability to easily stay in touch with people after moving through social media, and the increased normalcy of online friends, will will impact the affect of geographic separation from friends of kids who move a lot

Thanks for those! It just so happens we're deciding right now whether to move our daughter into a school with a better TAG program, but it'd mean starting 7th grade in a new school.

As someone who moved nearly every year as a kid, most of the problem comes from entering school mid-year. Friendships and routines are cemented, and unless you have well developed social skills (I don’t), it’s incredibly hard to fit in and not feel awkward or left out.

Moving before the school year starts isn’t as bad. Half the kids in class don’t know each other and it’s a great chance to start fresh. You don’t really feel left out at as much.

This is a really hard call. My parents moved to a different district at about that time, and it quite beneficial overall for me. But, I wasn't really leaving many friends behind, so that was less of a question.

As an adult, I somewhat accidentally ended up moving step-kids (a bit older), and I deeply regret it. They had far better educational/career opportunities in the new place, but I think they probably would have ended up happier hanging out with their goofball/stoner friends for a few more years.

How does your daughter feel about it? It's probably good to involve her in the conversation too

'We' includes her, of course.

I put on a happy face when my parents asked if I wanted to move away in the 6th grade. I was a 'good kid' and didn't want to say no. But I didn't want to move, and moving was a complete wreck emotionally for me.

So be cautious. How likely is she to say 'no' if she knows that you want her to say 'yes'?

Heh, not a risk in this case.

I don't mean to suggest that moving is never the right decision, but yes those results personally give me pause in whether it'd a good idea to move. Also it seems in general more thought is needed around what can be done to help kids with the transition when moving.

I moved to a better school for grade 7, and it really helped me, but I wasn't having a great time at the old one.

Are TAG programs a big thing in middle school? At the schools I went to TAG programs in elementary school automatically tracked you into the honors classes in middle school and then high school, but a lot of kids who weren't in TAG funneled into honors any way.

When I went to school, they were an elementary school thing. Apparently they go through middle school now; after that high school has a enough tracks to not need it, I guess. AP classes and such.

Especially if middle school starts in 7th grade rather than 6th, this is the perfect time to change. In most cases middle schools mix in multiple elementary schools, so the kids are all making new connections anyway.

Two of my best friends growing up relocated in late elementary and then middle school. Not sure how they did afterwards as I didn't keep in contact much (harder in 90s) but being more introverted myself it certainly affected me negatively.


Your comment suggests that you were fortunate enough not to experience frequent moves and social issues during your childhood. At the same time, you seem to lack empathy towards others' pain. I am sorry for people around you.

For people in reasonable but not stellar circumstances, the "don't blame others, own your life" advice is probably appropriate. For others, that advice amounts to insidious gaslighting.

Personal experience and reading points to the opposite conclusion. Trivia: amongst successful actors a disproportionate number of them had parents who had jobs that caused the family to move around a lot (traveling salesmen and the like). Out of the people I've met, those who were moving around a lot as kids had a different quality in my eyes. They also often continued moving around in later life. When you grow up in a single environment you find it harder to differentiate what is a feature of this local culture, and what is a feature of the "wider world", because you're stuck with only one data point.

Anecdotes about personal experience, people you've met, and unsourced trivia don't disprove studies about populations as a whole.

Celebrities may have a much higher rate of suicide (2.9%) vs the general population (.013% in the US): https://www.researchgate.net/publication/13524696_Suicide_in...

That doesn't seem like the opposite conclusion to me.

I wouldn't be surprised to find out that moving could possibly give you skills, deficiencies, and desires that make it more likely you become an actor either, but that seems like a little more like speculation at this point.

Depression is common among highly successful and/or popular figures. I read that depression was common among astronauts after they completed their missions. Virtually nothing that they (can) do later in life compares with the scope of their past missions, and that leads to depression or worse. These days, part of the astronaut training includes planning for their post-mission goals.

Same for combat veterans.

Don't discount anecdotes. World views, even if found to be supported by studies, are often rationalizations of inner state.

A lot of the more successful, worldly people I know were "army brats" who moved around a lot. It gave them a different view of the world and a greater sense of independence and the need to do things for one's self.

This might not be a fair comparison. One of the risks of moving during vulnerable age is being seen as an outsider and excluded from groups at every new place. But army brats tend to cluster as parents get deployed to a large base, and having other somewhat friendly kids in a similar state can be a big help with avoiding exclusion.

Successful actors are lottery winners.

Millions of people are affected by problems in childhood. There are 500 people, tops, on the planet who have monetized the resulting personality disorder into some kind of mass-media fame.

Why do you think there are only 500? I'm not challenging the observation, just curious about the casaulity you see.

Johnny Depp came to my mind as well reading that. Perhaps it's not such an opposite conclusion, though? I don't want to suggest most actors have personal problems, but having listened to a lot of the more successful ones it seems like there's often a void that's yearning to be filled by fame and adulation.

So by Middle School, your social persona has ripened and you spend more effort on socializing than non-social play. And because of the bias we give first impressions, we form the strongest opinion of how we fit in socially during Middle School.

Makes sense from personal experience. I went into Middle School with some asocial traits, which ultimately lead to very painful ‘friend’ betrayals... and the next 40 years I spent minimizing the importance of friends.

> and the next 40 years I spent minimizing the importance of friends.

Do you regret that now?

Well I don't do regret, but now that this article has helped me realize I probably have a bias against investing in friendships, I can take action to compensate going forward. Put reminders in my phone to call people I know on a recurring basis etc.

"But there is also a dark side to the social world of middle school, as anyone who has been through it will remember. Sixth graders who do not have friends are at risk of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. About 12 percent of the 6,000 sixth graders in Juvonen’s study were not named as a friend by anyone else. They had no one to sit with at lunch and no one to stick up for them when bullied."

Very relate-able, unfortunately. In many ways, it set the tone for my life.

This is going to be perhaps the least popular comment I've ever made on HN, but I will relate to you the advice my parents gave me when I was a socially awkward, introverted, bullied middle-schooler:

Dad: Suck it up. Mom: Get over it.

Being bullied in school doesn't mean you have to be bullied for life. As a kid, things can be stacked against you. You're surrounded by people who are older, stronger, more powerful, and more capable than you. But you don't have to be bullied as an adult if you don't allow it to happen. Adulthood is a much more even playing field than childhood. You have resources (HR department, change jobs, change neighborhoods, police, social services, lawyers, etc...)

I know there are people who as adults are bullied. I know some of them. But in every case I've seen they've allowed a history of bullying to make them believe that they are powerless to change their circumstances. They're not. They choose to remain in that position because it's familiar, and change and confrontation are scary. But sometimes you've got to suck it up, act like an adult, and do adult things. And that sometimes means standing up for yourself.

Your experiences don't translate well to anyone I've know who was bullied. I was bullied in junior high. I was told to stand up to the bullies, to defend myself. I was 5'6", 125lbs. The bullies (three of them) were all 50lbs heavier than me, and were on the football team. I stood up to them once. Kicked one in the balls. The other two, beat my ass and held me down til the third recovered; he beat on me for a good ten minutes. This went on for several years until they got bored with me and discovered girls.

Sucking it up and getting over it? Yeah, I sucked it up. But you don't get over something like that. At my current job, my boss is a type A manager who encourages "competition." I have a family to finish raising, so yes, I'm powerless to change my circumstances. I suck it up everyday for the paycheck, knowing that my kids are fed, my mortgage paid, and my retirement is being funded.

But to blithely state that people should suck it up and get over it minimizes the cost of that type of treatment. I have few friends, I'm incredibly cynical, and I'm probably a bad coworker since I have a sense of snark that I frequently voice.

For what it's worth you should be proud of yourself for standing up to them. They on the other hand are absolute cowards.

> knowing that my kids are fed, my mortgage paid, and my retirement is being funded.

FWIW you have your priorities straight, and that counts for a lot.

> I have a family to finish raising, so yes, I'm powerless to change my circumstances.

Where do you live that changing teams or changing employers can’t be done until you raise a family? No offense, but in every case I’ve heard someone use that explanation, it’s just been an excuse to avoid the effort of change.

No offense taken. I live in the Midwest and work for a non-tech company. I'm also over 50, which drastically limits the jobs available. Changing to a different company would result in a lower salary, and arguably less stability. I'm consciously choosing a stable company until retirement. I had an opportunity to move to a smaller, more agile company when I was 40, but opted to stay put my wife through grad school as well as keep my kids in the same town.

Agreed. Unpopular opinion: few things are as detrimental to one's success as seeking comfort. Success is built on sweat, blood and tears.

As someone who is satisfied with the success I've found in life -- you forgot a whole truckload of luck being involved.

One of the few things I think Scott Adams has right when is he says we can influence our luck. But at the end we play odds, sometimes despite our sweat, blood, tears, and sometimes in spite of their lack.

I don't disagree. I thought about including luck, but thought that would take away from the things that we can actually control, and I wanted to contrast "seeking comfort" with "seeking sweat, blood and tears".

Not true.

Most successful people come from successful families. They sought comfort for the basics so they didn’t have to worry about the game.

Hard work is necessary for a lot, but it’s usually a low-cost-of-failure work. Failing at a startup usually means getting a well paid job.

> Most successful people come from successful families

Define success. I think the better version of that sentence is "Most wealthy people come from wealthy families", but I'm not so sure about success.

Success can also be built with a rich family supporting you. Either rich family, or blood sweat, and tears, you always need luck on your side. But you can buy more luck if you have a rich family.

Why would you even want to be successful at something incompatible with comfort?

"Hello dear, how was work?"

"Oh you know, some of my larger coworkers pushed me down to the floor and told me how much they hated me. But I sucked it up"

"That's great, get over it!"

"I will - until tomorrow, of course, when it will happen again."

"Just keep sucking it up and getting over it and it will all turn out fine!"

I don't know how it is we think children should be able to deal with things that would be unthinkably intolerable for adults.

Compare shoving at age 2, age 12, and age 22.

What makes these situations different is:

A. Maturity. We expect developmental difference and if they don't happen, it indicates a problem. Normal but undesirable behavior at age 2 would sociopathic if done at age 22. Toddlers don't get arrested if they bite someone, while adults do; I would claim that is justifiable.

B. Destructive potential. Mature people are faster, stronger, and smarter; a bar brawl has a greater chance for broken bones, concussions, etc. than a playground fight.


That said, there are things in relationships you have to suck up and get over at work; they are different than for a middle schooler though.

> B. Destructive potential. Mature people are faster, stronger, and smarter; a bar brawl has a greater chance for broken bones, concussions, etc. than a playground fight.

That isn't even destructive. Broken bones heal and you're healthy again. Bullying a child, that is destructive.

Learning to stand up for yourself is more than "Suck it up". I think your comment is in good faith, because sucking it up is the correct response... for someone that is able to do it. But before then a change of mindset is required, and that can be a large undertaking for some people.

What that helped me: - Fitness (starting with simple yoga to learn appreciation for my body, then progressing with weights) - Stoicism, Letters from a Stoic Seneca, Meditations Marcus Aurelius - Committing to memory basic social skills and nuances, The Charisma Myth - Hypnosis and self affirmations

Also I think I prefer "Onward" rather than "Suck it up". If you have any resources that helped you, particularly in social skills, I am always looking for more resources.

It's sounds like a cop out, but everyone's experience is different. Being bullied in middle school can be vastly different experience if your home life is pleasant and supportive vs. unpleasant or unstable, if you're academically gifted vs. prone to struggling academically, if the school is well staffed and safe vs. otherwise.

I grew up in a loving home and attended good public schools in a fairly upper middle class school district. Both my brother and sister were subject to some serious bullying, and there is no question that it made their school life miserable for a time, but it was not the formative episode of their youths.

On the other hand, its not hard to see in a worse situation how easily it could be.

For me bullying stopped when I started martial arts. I still wasn’t popular but people knew they shouldn’t mess with me (I never had to fight but the bullies knew I could) and left me alone. If I had kids I would definitely try to get them into jiu Jitsu class or similar.

This physical confidence still carries me until today even in professional circumstances.

>For me bullying stopped when I started martial arts.

This is so true. At the end of the day, we are primal animals, and knowing that you can physically dominate (or can be physically dominated) has a huge influence in personal conflict. Not only that, martial arts are great exercise, which is one less thing you can be bullied about.

It's obviously not a bullying "cure-all", but it helps.

I think this is good advice, though it never would have occurred to my parents (or me).

Emotional bullying is a different problem. If I could advise my younger self, it'd be that when the line is crossed, you have to lay down the law: This stops, or I'm out of here. And put on your adult hat and follow through.

For me it was judo. You can't really hurt others but they can't hurt you either.

> Adulthood is a much more even playing field than childhood. You have resources (

> HR department,

There to protect the company, not you and definitely not to admit any kind of abuse because that is a liability

> change jobs

Looks very bad on your resume if done after a short period of time or frequently

>change neighborhoods

Makes you look shady and like you are dodging responsibility. Ties with the previous point.

> police

Comprised by mostly ex-bulies. I'm sure that will go well.

> social services

Here you face real repercussions for what will be seen as you not accepting your lot in life.

> lawyers, etc...)

As long as you have money...

> And that sometimes means standing up for yourself.

Remember: Appeasement never works.


I've experienced one side of this and seen the other side of it first-hand. I am the guy that stuck up for myself, both in middle school and high school, and as an adult. Police got involved many times, I was punished despite everyone involved agreeing I had acted in self-defense. I was unable at the time to afford adequate legal representation and the only advocates I had sided with the government/police. Later in life I had similar situations but was wealthy enough to afford adequate legal representation and things went much better for me.

I've also observed a friend of mine being bullied as a kid, a teenager, and then as an adult go to the police because that's what he was taught/told by his parents. As a child they did nothing and made the situation worse by causing the bullies too know he'd reported them without actually taking any action to improve things. As a teenager they bullied him too, called him weak, basically told him he deserved it. As an adult, he was arrested and charged although the charges were dropped because all his wounds were defensive, because the bully was a woman.

The police, at least in the US, are not your friend. Most cops are ex-bullies or current bullies. Many people join the police force explicitly because the badge allows them to cover up their own misbehavior and empowers them with impunity in their actions. Don't be so ignorant as to believe otherwise, the evidence is plain and available for all to see, and anecdotes support it much more viscerally.

But, yes, thank you for your victim blaming narrative. As if someone is making up cops being bullies... as if.

>Now you're just making things up. But it's OK, I understand. People who are being bullied will grasp on to any excuse they can to keep themselves from changing their lives

Nice ad-hominem. I'm not being bullied but I've seen many of these scenarios playing out in real life.

Your victim blaming is now here in full display for anyone to see.

This is the most shit-tier advice I've ever seen posted on Hacker News, and I've seen a lot. Basically you are implying "fuck you for being bullied, don't come to me for advice or sympathy." And you are their parent. Isn't this how pent up rage develops? Are you trying to turn your child into a school shooter?

There is some weird thinking about bullying, where the victim has to take care of it by themselves, the bullies are allowed to do whatever they want, and everyone who isn't a victim or a bully is just not involved.

I was lucky, I hardly got bullied, but it always bothered me seeing other kids get it, and I used to be friendly with them as much as I could. This might sound like a pretty weak thing to say, I didn't manage to confront the bullies in some dramatic fashion (although the opportunities to do this were very few in my school at least). But I think it made a difference to show a bit of solidarity with kids that were getting bullied, some of them told me this much later.

Sometimes as an adult you need to suck it up and provide for your family, working in a small industry, at a small business, getting bullied at work every day because unless you retrain, there are no their options.

I've been in a similar situation, and it does truly suck. Things can be changed, but it can take quite a while and be rather painful.

One thing that's helped me some is the realization that I can simply walk away from almost anything. Kids are the primary exception, and I think as a parent or guardian, you have a deep duty to suffer whatever you must to try to give them a good start in life.

You are correct. I've been there. But these circumstances don't last forever. Life is constantly changing. Sometimes you can make the change. Sometimes you just have to wait.

The article explains the danger of this approach, with reasonable science. It seems to have worked in your case but is more risky than other strategies.

I didn't see that in the article. Maybe we're interpreting it differently?

It is critical for adolescents to learn to deal with hard things and to approach problems in positive ways. Love the martial arts training ididntdothis mentioned - increase the child's ability and confidence, then even without using the martial skills, the bullying stopped.

I think your comment is missing the point of the previous person's post.

Its not that they've been bullied for life, its that the effect of them being bullied is ongoing and pervasive.

He didn't mention bullying actually, he was just referring to not having friends due to "anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem".

I can relate. I wasn't bullied in middle school, but I had no social skills and no confidence, so I didn't really have many friends. Telling a kid like that to suck it up obviously doesn't change anything. I do however agree though in the context of being bullied.

« Suck it up » means « Don’t have feelings » which make me get highly cynical, and cutting all affection ties with the outside world, which makes me want to commit... bad things. To others. So no, getting cynical isn’t the solution. We need feeling towards our next of kins.

I think it depends on the severity and nature of the bullying, the personality of the child in question, and the parents can be gentler in delivering the message.

On the whole I agree with you. My parents were similarly tough on me (except the one time I was bullied by a teacher, as they recognized the difference between annoying peers and someone abusing their authority and I certainly appreciated it) - however, they were not as tough on my siblings and more protective of them because they had very different personalities and it would have affected them more than it did me.

Reasonable. Although I have been bullied some, it was really the overall quote that spoke to me.

Everyone "wakes up" early in life and starts to realize the cards they've been dealt. It would be really nice if there were a lot of thoughtful adults around to help them to adapt to that, but the world just isn't like that. Some things can be improved, but in the end, as the ancients knew, life is ultimately suffering and sorrow.

Doesn't "suck it up" mean to bear it and ignore it? That seems at odds with the rest of your post's advice which is to stand up for yourself.

No, suck it up means find a way to cope, which can mean suffer through it or make changes.

No. Sucking it up is acceptance of the situation, the very opposite to making changes

It doesn't seem as if the first reply to the top comment agrees with you.

For me it absolutely set the initial tone, and that tone continued for more than a decade. Its incredibly hard to work through, and it won't ever go completely away. One plus is it gives you an "outsiders" perspective on a lot of things, which can mean you get to be correct a lot when other's can't see patterns they're caught up in.

The hardest part for me at the moment is that the feeling of friendship is so fleeting, and it turns me into a people pleaser when its not necessary. I trick myself into believing that if someone isn't actively enjoying my presence, they are souring on me or are reconsidering our relationship. That belief also means its hard to keep up friendships since I often think a relationship is "over" when it could be kept up.

I’m sorry to hear that. I was relatively well-liked in my school and college years, yet as an adult it has been very, very difficult to make friends.

Thanks. Must have been nice, but I suppose the cost was experiencing the change to the way things are as an adult (which I think is a very common experience). In my case, I've long since adapted to a near-solitary existence, and I'd say it doesn't particularly bother me anymore.

Indeed, that may very well be true. Ironic, isn’t it, that we are more connected than ever and yet lonelier than ever.

Here’s an idea for a founder looking for a startup: a Tinder-esque platform for meeting and making friends with similar interests. I’m sure this has been done before but certainly hasn’t become mainstream.

> yet as an adult it has been very, very difficult to make friends.

Isn't this a common experience for most people now. I feel like I frequently articles highlighting loneliness in adults. I've had the same experience.

I think it's very common, but in my experience living the city helps a lot (San Francisco in my case, compared to say the south bay).

There's a selection effect where people who live in dense areas are more open to meeting new people. (There's also a culture of drinking which I'm mostly over, but it's still a net positive IMO.)

Quite frankly, middle school sucks.

I don't know of anyone who liked that time.

Friendships are more mature than in elementary school, and no one has gained confidence enough to find their own place in the world.

Listen, I hate to make random generalizations but I have a few observations about school as described by Americans on the Internet (I did not attend school in America). I'm only saying this because it makes me somewhat nervous about bringing up a child in a standard school in America. For conciseness I'll say "Americans" or "people" but I mean "Americans who I've seen comment on Reddit and HN". Here's what I've seen:

* People say "Kids are cruel" or "Kids are little shits" or stuff like that. This is very far from what I recall school being like. Sure, some people would make fun of you, etc. but that's just banter and the process of growing up is that. You can choose to join the norm (which I saw lots of people do) or violate that norm openly (which I also saw lots of people do) and you could do that for some norms and not for others.

* People say that kids made fun of each other for their clothes. We had uniforms. Everyone wore the same clothes and the same shoes. No jewelry. No cell phones. Everyone used the same tools.

* People say that kids would harass them by sitting next to them and constantly belittling them. We had assigned seating. Teachers would rearrange seating based on whether you're being disruptive, whether you're making other kids uncomfortable, etc.

* People say that school sucks. But I recall all school being pretty fun, even the negative feeling of heartbreak of crushes unrequited, games lost, or embarrassing moments in front of class are not feelings I carry negatively with me.

* People say they were made fun of for their hobbies. People would make fun of other people. I'm not going to lie. But someone who was the class's best CS 1.5 player was celebrated for that. And the top kids in each subject were heroes.

I know this usually comes off offensive but perhaps it's the structure of American schools that the complainants went to that influences the problem?

FWIW in school my classmates would describe me as "eccentric" or "weird" pretty often, but ultimately they didn't hurt me in any real way. And here are some other related facts about schooling that I notice isn't the case in America:

* Most people would go to school by public transit or transport themselves on non-motor vehicles: bicycles were okay but no one was allowed motorized transport.

* Teachers had substantial control over the class. There was very little disruption. And when it existed it was harmless.

* There were no weapons of any sort on campus.

* There were drugs (I smoked weed - which I regret mildly because I suspect it made me stupider) but it wasn't a complex organized trade and the hard drugs weren't present.

> even the negative feeling of heartbreak of crushes unrequited, games lost

Look, if you had heartbreaks that means you were in the girls game and you were 10 miles above the people we’re talking about here. You don’t seem to feel what it is to be excluded from the group, it’s an entirely different feeling from being rejected by a few girls and having enough support and love from your family around that it’s not a problem. I’d say 60% of the class don’t belong to the core group, and 20% are extremely solitary. Extremely solitary people also have double problems because they are not supported at home. And surprisingly, lack of love at home creates both the bullies and the victims.

Those people really need help. I know I did. It’s not a condescending tone, I’m just saying that some people are invisible and we need to learn to « see ». I’m 37 and I still have murderous thoughts. I have literally enlightened the lives of a few hundreds people around me by talking about men’s issues and describing them so people can articulate them and eventually get people who support them, and I keep fan mail on a wall at home because they help me see I’m useful to this world. But I never myself received the help I needed.

People need to learn to see. Sometimes you can’t believe how someone sitting next to you can be alone.

It's a cultural thing. Painting in broad strokes, America is more aggressive, abrasive, and racially diverse than other industrialized Western nations.

If you want a school like you had, definitely look at private or charter schools. Because they require application and admission, they can create their own culture and approach to education.

Private and charter schools may be nice for the individuals who get to go to them but from a macro perspective they are terrible. They suck money away from the public school system. We need to have a country were education is for everybody not just rich people.

Problem is, not everyone can agree on what the utopian education system is.

So, as with many other things, we solve it with personal choice; i.e. charter schools.

Thanks for that tip. That's what many of my friends say too.

Went to school in the UK so not entirely the same experience as our american cousins, but absolutely nothing like you describe.

The main points are:

* any class that wasn't segregated on ability would usually have at least one individual who didn't want to be there. They would typically disrupt the class. jump up and swear, push over desks, attack other students or the teacher, spit in other students faces, throw chairs at the windows or doors, etc.

* Every time you changed class you had to walk in the corridor. A packed corridor filled with students. If you pass the student or students who don't like you how can you stop one of them sucker punching you? you can't. Tripping you up and kicking you one after the other before quickly moving along to their class? that too, etc.

* Going to the toilet also presented problems. I am male so used urinals, but what if that gang of students who don't like you see you go into the bathroom? if you are using a urinal they can punch you in the back of the head, or grab you and throw you to the ground and put the boot in before you can even react. Taking a dump in a cubicle? be prepared to have bottles of piss, bricks, etc thrown over the top at you, get the door kicked in and punched, door kicked in and a bottle of piss sprayed in your face, etc.

* Walking home from school? hope a gang of people who don't like you don't beat you up and steal your bag/money/shoes ( this one didn't happen to me, but repeatedly to a friend).

The complaints that you have outlined are absolutely minor and tame.

Bullying in school is a problem for the same reason it is in adult life, that is, being punched/kicked/ hit with a brick/ prevented from going to the bathroom without risk of physical assault in an environment that you have no control over can be distressing and harmful.

FWIW, my American experience tracks well with yours. Yeah, middle school was difficult, but that's because being a kid going through puberty is pretty difficult across the board, I'd expect.

I don't at all doubt that others had bad experiences, and I sympathize with them. But also "if it bleeds it leads" follows in online comments (especially on places like Reddit, which I often find to be rather negative). You aren't hearing the people who just think, "yeah, middle school was okay."

Are you sure you're describing a school and not a prison? I notice that the kids have essentially no choice in anything - can't choose clothing or seating and thus friends.

Also, are you sure that bad things didn't happen or could you have just missed them? You say that school "was pretty fun", which goes starkly against my experience. I didn't have the negative experiences other people in this thread had, but it was just incredibly boring and you had to be there. That alone made it suck.

There are ways to get out of this rut. I suggest therapy and/or therapeutic brain drugs.

My middle school years were pretty miserable due to family drama stuff. I'm only in touch with two friends from that era (via FB). I contrast this to my kids, who went to a really great charter school from grades 7-12. Their core social groups are still made of their junior high and high school friends - my daughter (age 25) was just an attendant for one of those friends' weddings, and another one of their jr high friends was also an attendant. For someone in their mid-20s to have a whole social network of friends they've known half their life amazes me.

Same boat for me. Solidarity.

My son who is on the autism spectrum always had difficulties making friends at school. Because, of sustained bullying in 6th grade we have kept him home and started home schooling. He loves the flexibility to learn anything he wants, and the lack of social anxiety. BUT, off late he has started interacting more with our neighborhood kids more and he is really starting to enjoy their company.They do a lot of outdoors things and they actually make things. SO, it does seem like kids(esp boys) tend to make more meaningful relationships right around middle school some of which tend to last a long time at least until they go separate ways after high-school. Just my own experience with my son.

"I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12 - Jesus, did you?" --Stephen King in his short-story "The Body" (which became _Stand by Me_ the movie.)

Totally relate to that.

As an aside, I consider this a strength of Stephen King's best stories. The boys, their friendship and the kid-logic they employ in stories like The Body and It. By the time he wrote Dreamcatcher it had become a little hackneyed, but still.

Relating to the article, that quote always makes me sad. I moved at 12, I didn't have friends. I feel like I missed something I can never get back.

I moved after 2nd, 6th, and 9th grade. Luckily I have brothers close to my age. It's definitely impacted me and made close friendships confusing. I talk to people easily in public or when I run into them, but I don't think I'm on anyone invitation list outside of family.

I've made the concious decision to keep my children in the same school, despite moving several times in the same area since I rent.

Growing up I had problems fitting in and also experienced this sense of loss; not having the same shared experiences as people around me. I wonder now how other kids who "didn't fit in" for whatever reason (orientation, intelligence, economic status) feel? Or is everyone alienated to some extent, and just hides it?

I feel like I fit that grouping too. I didn't fit in most places as a kid (I never really figured out why, which still scares me), but I had a pretty good group of friends in elementary school who bonded over that fact. Unfortunately our middle school split each grade into two "teams", and I ended up on the wrong one. That meant I had none of the same classes, my locker was in a different hallway, and I had a different lunch period. Essentially, it was like I had moved. Thanks to that, middle school is the most forgettable time of my life. I sort of made a few more connections throughout those years, but nothing that lasted at all, and any time i've talked with those people since has been pretty awkward because we never really knew each other.

Luckily that changed with high school, where more freedom was offered and so I found new friendships easier to make. I was eventually able to make at few friends, one of whom has been lifelong, by random happenstance of lunch tables. Interestingly, my wife had roughly the same experience of losing all her friends at the start of middle school and not really rebuilding until high school.

> “Middle school is about lunch.”

I never really thought about it, but 30 years out, pretty much the only memories I have from middle school are lunch time. I remember a few other things, but at least 90% of what I remember from middle school happened at lunch.

Telling your child "you'll make new friends" seems to be about the least helpful and least sensitive thing you could say. As though friendships were some fungible substance of social interaction, none of any more value or special quality than another.

Though I do wonder if the trauma of severed relationships is helped these days by social media, cell phones, video chat, etc. When I was growing up, even long distance phone calls were too much money for regular use to stay in touch. Moving away, or having a friend move away, was for all practical purposes similar to losing a friend to death. There was a very good chance you'd never see them again.

Happened to me. My best friend went to the private school and I had to go to public school. It definitely impacted my grades. I had asked my parents to send me to the private school too but it wasn't in the cards. And by best friend I mean someone who was a peer with similar work ethic and intelligence so we learnt from each other. That was traumatic. I had made that friend after moving to a different state in the 5th grade. I remember leaving my friends as being somewhat traumatic but not as traumatic as the different high school thing. I sort of owe my career to him and his family since they were software entrepreneurs in the 90s.

Lunch in middle school was absolutely the worst part of my life ... reading this article, I'm amazed that I didn't grow up to be a serial-killer. My family also relocated for my eighth-grade year and, returning in ninth grade was especially horrible. I like like the tag-line of the Mortified podcast - "We are freaks, we are fragile ... and we all survived". Now I'm wondering how many of my misfit acquaintances didn't actually survive.

“Friendships take place in this larger context where there’s a status hierarchy,” she told me. “Kids know very well which kinds of kids are friends with one another and where they stand in that overall status hierarchy.”

Huh. I never knew such a thing existed.

That's a very insighful comment. One of my ex's (who was otherwise a rather terrible person) absolutely poured herself into making sure that her daughters were well-liked and did well in this game. I think it's one of the best things she's done.

How do you practically put this into effect? What steps can you take to help the kids without being a helicopter or intrusive patient.

At least in Australia, being great at sport is a pretty reliable way to being popular as a teenager. You have to get kids into sport much earlier than middle school though to get them great.

For starters, make sure that they're reasonably groomed and dressed in whatever the current style is. I didn't have this and paid a large price.

Encourage them to take up sports, or whatever group activity. Meet their friends parents and maybe host a Haloween party, etc.

You can't do it all, but definitely you can do some.

I had a male friend with a mother that did that. As a child I didn’t recognize it, but as it was explained to me in adulthood, the reason he played guitar, got quarterback lessons, and started to hang out in groups with cooler kids (or at least larger and larger groups of kids) was because his mother was orchestrating the whole thing to make him more popular.

I’m pretty sure that put enormous pressure on him and filled him with anxieties. Last I heard he dropped out of undergrad, and his sisters all look like they have eating disorders.

I wouldn’t try to touch my kid’s social status with a ten foot pole, aside from perhaps ensuring they have at least an average level of wealth relative to their peers. If anything popularity needs to be downplayed

Even monkeys and primates have it. Humans definitely have it, there are cliques, in-groups, out-groups, trying to get into various groups...it's obviously a culture at each school, but since it's observed in monkeys and primates, we know it's somewhat natural for humans.

I wonder if theres a link to the result of studies on children that are forced to move around:


On the radio I heard the result of a Danish study mirroring this result.

So I only moved twice during the school years. This is a lot less than some but I really think it did me no favors at all.

The first was at the end of the third grade. Company town shutting down. There wasn’t much choice here.

I moved to a bigger but still small town and even though I moved between school years I still found pre-existing and entrenched friendships. Like many commenting here in never has the greatest social skills to begin with and I don’t think I ever really fit in.

Moved again after grade 7 (At the time years 8 was the first year of high school). It was a horrible place and I deeply regret efforts by my parents to send me to boarding school.

But I fell in with people who themselves were outcasts and I learned the lesson that even outcasts can climb a rung or two by throwing other outcasts under the bus.

After a year of that I actually visited my old town and friends but there just wasn’t much attachment there and I realized just hope much had changed in a year of separation such that I never visited them again. I don’t hear them Ill will, to be clear. We had just diverged.

I don’t miss anything snotty high school. I don’t miss anyone from high school. There were some nice people but none I was close friends with. My own limitations played a part in that but it is what it is.

There was one more move in high school but it didn’t result in a change in high school. It did however lead to a loss of independence and power. Previously I rode my bike to school. After the move I had no choice but to take the school bus (more opportunities to be bullied) and the way this worked was I arrived at school 40 minutes before it started and had to stay 40 minutes after it finished.

Compounding to that the friends I did have just didn’t live near the new house and I lost the ability to visit them without being driven.

I think I hated that more than any of the moves.

A lot of people who go to college (as I did) get their lifelong circles of friends from college instead. I don’t think I ever learned how to do this so kind of missed out on this too.

I don’t know how much of this I can blame on moves. Luck on who else is in your peer group must play a huge factor. All I know is it didn’t help, I didn’t enjoy it and there are literally zero people I have any contact with from the school years.

My middle school years consisted of being bullied: verbally and physically abused.

I’ve been grinding my teeth since the first physical violence incident at age 11 that involved numerous full blast blows to my head. My response meanwhile was regretful bullying of a few other kids in response. The cap to this was additional physical violence against me before entering high school, in the presence of law enforcement who stood aside and allowed the punishment to be inflicted, likely due to the perception of me having been a scumbag to a popular kid in sixth grade, and/or an old school non-interventionist attitude.

By the end of middle school, the lifetime of suicidal ideation was cemented. The end result was extreme social immaturity entering high school and a downward spiral of an unwanted life drifting towards destitution and homelessness at middle age. My neighborhood peers were religious tribalists who looked down upon me and essentially formed my perceptions of the world as a religious outsider threatened by promises of eternal torture for non compliance. I dream of suicide around the clock and remain afraid of death and have zero desire for anything but preparing for death.

Needless to say, I don’t find this species to be very pleasant or deserving of my time or participation and certainly not of any offspring. This, of course, is sugar coating the reality: I think this species is total rubbish, and regardless of how many nice people exist, there’s been a never ending string of low quality people that I’ve encountered over the past 30 years, myself included. I remain fearful of facing the unknown of death despite decades dreaming of dying. Zero desire for help of any kind; I inherited a fortune and gave it away. I pray for forgiveness and mercy in the afterlife and remain eternally fearful, having been indoctrinated by peers with promises of eternal torture as a consequence for failure to engage in a particular belief system (coupled with the tribal violence by participants of said religion).

Fuck this species. Sorry: the solution is for me to die and wash away my broken brain. Some people simply don’t want to be helped. The natural laws of evolution are met with my lack of procreation and my suicide washes away my broken experience so others can have a better chance. Accordingly I’ve given away my inheritance and gone homeless in preparation. So thankful it’s almost over and infinitely scared nonetheless. At some point soon I’ll simply ask God or the universe to forgive me for failing to be “strong enough” to “overcome” my little not particularly uncommon tragedy. Sorry.

You're a survivor of repeated trauma. I wish society could have rescued you and shown you a different life. I'm sorry that didn't happen.

The wish breaks the natural order. Some people bounce back and prosper, rise above it. Their genetics are superior. Mine were not. It’s natural that I die now. It’s correct that I didn’t procreate.

And, of course help was offered yet I reject it. I gave up in middle school when it was happening.

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