June 26th, 2002

firesea: self-portrait


When someone says "I don't care what X thinks of me", 9 times out of 10 they mean "I don't care if X likes me." They do still care if X *respects* them.

Everyone wants to be respected - that shouldn't surprise anyone. But the connection I just made explains why it hurts so damn much when someone looks down on you, even (especially!) someone you dislike.

When you come home from school crying because the kids were teasing you again, you're told that you shouldn't care what they think. It's made to seem so easy. But teasing, at least schoolkid-style teasing, strongly implies lack of respect, and is actually a thinly veiled way of ordering status. Not reacting to teasing means that you're accepting your place at the bottom of the pack. No wonder it's so hard to do.

When I was in 4th grade, I convinced my classmates I was from another planet (no, really). I thrived on that, because even though they thought I was a weirdo it was a kind of respect. Far better than the girl in 6th grade who manipulated me into starting a fight with a boy who had made fun of her, and then laughed when I got beaten up. To her, I was entertainment at best, a one-use plaything.

So the question is, how do you make someone respect you? What does incur respect? An interesting thought experiment is to think of people close to you - a list of qualities you like in them will probably come to mind fairly easily, but what do you *respect* them for?

(and to anyone who might be wondering, this wasn't spurred by any particular recent events - just some thoughts wandering through my head.)
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